I swear if another person says, “Most of the buying decisions are already made by the time decision-makers meet with sales reps” my head is going to explode. This is true. Got it. But how does a seller get a meeting with decision influencers during the early phase?
How can you get invited to discuss buyers’ challenges as they are discovering they need a solution?
Stop asking for meetings. Literally. Start attracting the meetings to you. Provoke your prospect to start the chain reaction.
Get them curious about you. Curious enough to invite you to the discussion, in its earliest stage.
They Need You, Badly
You’re selling a B-to-B product or service that people need — yet they keep declining the invitation to meet, discuss their situation. You know they need a remedy to a disease they have — or will soon have. They need to act.
They need to meet with you. But they keep saying no.
Maybe your solution pays for itself. Or it will bring growth to buyers who implement it. It can change things for the better, fast. It’s good!
In your email, phone script or LinkedIn InMail approach you mention this to them — only to get turned down or ignored.
The truth is, they don’t care about the promise you (or your competitors) make. They only care about themselves. You are not attractive to them.
“Social Selling” Is Not the Answer
Customers need to discover, for their own reasons, why they need us. Not our reasons — theirs. Is how you’re using social media focused on helping them do so? Usually not, and it’s not your fault.
We are constantly being told what to do. None of it works.
- Engage with insights
- Share valuable content
- Stop pitching and start connecting — make deposits before withdrawals
- Build a social sales funnel
- Help customers become sales advocates
- Use personal branding to establish your reputation
These tips are what you want to hear — not what you need to know.
What you need to know is not simple. But it is effective. It’s what the top 5 percent of digital sellers are doing.
Here’s why you may be failing. What you are most receptive to trying (what you want to hear) doesn’t work. It’s a human thing. For example, on LinkedIn:
- Share someone else’s update and give them credit
- Comment on someone else’s update
- Comment on a discussion in one of your LinkedIn Groups
- Comment on someone’s new profile picture
- Start a discussion or share an article in one of your LinkedIn Groups
- Congratulate someone on a new job
- Share your blog posts with your network
- Wish your contacts a “Happy Birthday”
- Thank people for endorsements
Any fool can take these actions. They’re often touted as effective by people who couldn’t sell there way out of a paper bag.
These tips sound logical, doable and simple. Hence, the appeal.
But they will not move you toward what you want — the appointment.
Stop Asking for What You Want
You want the appointment. But what you need is an invitation. You might think I’m playing with words, but this is vital to your success. It’s critical to stop asking for what you want. Focus on what you need.
You need to be invited to the “cool kids club.” And while social media likes, shares and comments may be helpful, they’re not the key.
Your goal is not to book a meeting when making first contact with a prospect. Using InMail? Standard email? Connecting on LinkedIn first?
Beware: Starting by trying to get an appointment will get you rejected by 90 to 97 percent of perfectly good prospects. I learned this from my own experience, but Sharon Drew Morgen really drove it home for me. She’s got 20 years of experience herself.
When you go in cold, with an email or call, most buyers don’t know what they need at that point. Or they do have a need but aren’t ready to buy yet. Other buyers haven’t assembled the decision-making team, yet.
Setting an appointment with a seller will happen —but not with you. All because you asked for it too early.
The key that unlocks the door to your appointment is an invitation to talk —not discuss need. Being invited takes attraction. And sometimes attraction takes provocation — to spark a bit of curiosity in your prospect.
Provoke to Grab Attention
You cannot just show up on someone’s screen with an article containing information they already know. That’s a social selling pipe dream. Instead, attract the potential buyer to ask you for the meeting, demo or face-to-face.
Get invited to discuss a challenge, fear or goal your prospect has. Provoke them. Remember, if you aren’t provocative in a way that sparks curiosity, you aren’t getting to step one — a reply to your email.
Because decision-makers are filtering emails on-the-go. They’re mobile. Getting a reply demands that you are brief, blunt and provocative.
Start by using your first email message or cold phone script to provoke a “What did you mean by that?” or “How, exactly, did you do that for your client?” from a potential buyer. Use the chance to push on a pain point — or surface an unknown fact the prospect needs to know about before they can make an informed decision.
Get on the radar of decision-makers by asking for permission to facilitate discussion, not discuss need — and certainly not discuss your solution.
Sharon Drew Morgan puts it this way. “Help buyers navigate through the early part of their internal decision journey, much like a GPS system helps drivers navigate their route.”
Get started today by giving prospects an irresistible reason to talk — to flip on that GPS.
Attracting a prospect to you requires saying just enough in your cold email to get the conversation started — a short chat about what’s meaningful to the other person.
Then, allowing the other person to do most of the talking beyond the first, cold email.