Most of what you’re reading online about sales prospecting is bunk — tips, tricks, hacks. Mostly nonsense. For example, every expert under the sun agrees to focus on customers’ pain points or how you can solve a problem for them.
Not so fast. These common “best practices” aren’t. They often sabotage.
What tends to work is often kept quiet. Effective tactics are effective for a reason. They’re innovative, new, fresh … uncommon.
Below, you’ll find what I’m learning from my most creative, diligent students.
Instant Results are Often Possible
I’m not going to lie to you. We live in a world where online guru charlatans promise instant results. But the truth is results are, sometimes, nearly instant for sellers I work with. It’s possible to, in a few days, dramatically improve your ability to spark conversations with new customers… from cold.
I often provide tips in articles like this in ways readers apply. The results are nearly immediate.
“Within a week of changing my communications technique, I got a positive reply from an unresponsive prospect that I’d given up on,” says Julie Cohen, CEO of Work.Life.Leader.
Javier Cazares of Softtek received a response from a large, U.S. retailer’s CEO with a simple provocation: “There is an unusual but effective technique you may be overlooking.”
His target took the bait and replied asking what’s so unusual and how effective is it? But was it bait — or was it a challenge to ask Javier to prove his claim?
Just this week, Duncan Raeside of Guardian Wealth Management told me his new communications technique is starting more client conversations and helps close them faster.
Here’s what many of these sellers have in common:
- Their prior email/voicemail/call technique was so weak even a small adjustment produces significant gains in response.
- They are open to radically changing what they say and when they say it.
- They simply don’t know what to do — to psychologically trigger response in buyers.
Once You Know, You Know
When I coach folks, it’s always exciting. But it’s most thrilling when eyes open widely and heads nod furiously up-and-down. Many of us simply don’t know a better way to be starting conversations. Why?
Nobody ever explained a few effective options.
Once you know, you know. It seems obvious. Many of my best students feel invigorated, liberated. Because they always felt “what I have been doing is wrong-wrong-wrong. And now I have sensible options.”
Better ways to provoke response, spark curiosity and start conversations.
Maybe you’re crafting cold sales email subject lines and messages … or have in past. Where did you learn how to write in a provocative way? You probably tried to figure it out on your own. Or your marketing team may have provided words. You cut-and-paste them into email messages and send to prospects.
But success with cold prospecting depends on a number of factors. The primary being communications technique. This, and a few others, will drive your near-term success at starting new conversations.
LinkedIn Might Be Causing Your Failure
Asking to connect with a prospect is becoming less effective because it is a tactic used by low-skilled sales practitioners. Are you reaching out to prospects by asking for a connection? Why?
When I ask people this question the response is always the same: Why not? Or isn’t this what I’m supposed to do?
No. Instead, use LinkedIn as a research tool — not a primary communications device.
Here’s the skinny:
- Everyone is using (and abusing) this tactic
- Most accepted connection requests are followed immediately by a terrible sales pitch
- After a while your targets will (accordingly) accept fewer connection requests
- Being connected on LinkedIn is not necessary (ever) to start a conversation
- You see an accepted connection request as a positive indicator (when it is not)
Remember: You’re a stranger. As sellers are rushing into LinkedIn social selling decision-makers are:
- Hiding their authority on LinkedIn
- Accepting fewer (not more) connection requests
- Not accepting “just any” connection request
- Responding to problem-solvers not meeting-request spammers
Use all other options. The phone and voicemail. Standard email. Postal mail.
I know this sounds obvious. But are you limiting yourself? You want exceptional results but are your tactics exceptional?