Sell Chief Executives With This Email/InMail Template (Part 3 of 3)

The “experts” say executive officers aren’t open to being pitched via email and LinkedIn InMail. But they’re wrong. You can you spark conversations with chief executives. Discussions about them. Their pains, fears and ambitions … and bold public statements they make. Then, gently ask permission to connect that discussion to a new solution-what you sell.

The “experts” say executive officers aren’t open to being pitched via email and LinkedIn InMail. But they’re wrong. You can you spark conversations with chief executives. Discussions about them. Their pains, fears and ambitions … and bold public statements they make. Then, gently ask permission to connect that discussion to a new solution-what you sell.

You’ll get some yeses and some nos. It’s all part of an effective, repeatable social selling process.

Hyperpersonalize: An Effective InMail Template
Many of my students are brilliant. They take a bit of wisdom I give and run with it. Recently, my student Sam combined one of my InMail copywriting approaches with a hyperpersonalization technique: Using email recipients’ own public statements.

This approach stops busy chief executives in their tracks, and gets them to reply to his emails.

Let’s have a look at Sam’s practice so you can give it a try. I’ll turn it into a email/InMail template of sorts.

Follow These Guidelines
Sam crafts a handful of short email messages for testing using a few guidelines. He writes messages that:

  1. Are three to four sentences long maximum.
  2. Apply the words “I” or “my” minimally.
  3. Quote and compliments the chief executive in context of a hot industry issue.
  4. Align that meaningful quote with a conversation he would like to initiate.
  5. Ask for a brief email exchange to qualify a larger phone or face-to-face meeting.

The approach works. Because it is so personal, so authentic it busts through gatekeepers whose job it is to block unsolicited emails from pouring in.

It gets seemingly unreachable executives to invite discussions about issues that (ultimately) relate to what Sam is selling.

An Effective Email Template
My student, Sam, is a real person. He asked me to avoid sharing his full identity for competitive reasons. But he wants to help others, so I’ll describe his technique in a way you can copy. However, please don’t copy this template verbatim. Use your creativity and experiment with variations on words.

Create multiple versions of this approach using different kinds of quotes and issues. Discover what gets the best response and do more of what works, less of what does not.

Here is the template:

Hi, [first name].

Your quote in ___ magazine was stunning. Your perspective on _____ [burning issue] is vitally important to all of us working in _____ [industry]. Have you considered enhancing _____’s [target company] capability to ________ [insert challenge to overcome]?

There are alternate means to achieving ___ [goal]. Would you be open to learning about an unusual yet effective approach to ____ we use with clients like ___? [your current client].

Please let me know what you decide, [first name]?

Sincerely,
[your name & signature]

Beware: Don’t Threaten the Status Quo
Use the above template as a guide. Create your own, provocative email approach to a CEO, CIO, CTO, CFO, etc. Don’t limit yourself to quotes in magazines—leverage trade show speech quotes. Don’t limit yourself to the issues you believe are important to buyers—make your approach using what they say is vitally important.

Then, gently position yourself as a thought-provoker. Beware of being a cocky thought leader. That’s not your job. Your approach must not threaten the status quo or the way your prospect currently views the world. It must compliment (via the quote) and then gently nudge.

“Have you considered enhancing …” is a nudge. It’s less assertive than, “Have you considered replacing …” or “Would you be interested in talking about …”

The Experts Are Wrong
Once again, the claims of “experts” sabotage our ability to succeed. They say you can’t use LinkedIn’s InMail or standard email to sell. Why? Because chief executives “aren’t on social media to be sold to.”

But effectively written messages can get chief executives to stop, listen, respond and converse with you. There is a proven technique to increase InMail response rates.

Yes chief executives are difficult to sell to. But you can you spark conversations with them using email, InMail and LinkedIn. Not about selling. Instead, make your message about anything that matters to them. Literally.

Then pivot. Connect your conversation to what you sell—if and when appropriate. What do you think?

3 Steps to an Effective LinkedIn Sales Strategy

“How much time do I need to invest in prospecting on LinkedIn each day?” The answer may surprise you. Getting more response, and earning leads, means developing a LinkedIn sales strategy that sets aside the time investment question. Instead, focus on applying an exceptional, proven approach to LinkedIn. Make sure everything you do on LinkedIn has one goal in mind: getting prospects hungry for more details, answers, short-cuts or satisfying experiences.

“How much time do I need to invest in prospecting on LinkedIn each day?” The answer may surprise you. Getting more response, and earning leads, means developing a LinkedIn sales strategy that sets aside the time investment question. Instead, focus on applying an exceptional, proven approach to LinkedIn.

Make sure everything you do on LinkedIn has one goal in mind: getting prospects hungry for more details, answers, short-cuts or satisfying experiences.

Put response at the heart of your LinkedIn sales strategy using a better idea: Make everything you put on LinkedIn create irresistible curiosity in what you (or your team) can do for prospects. Make what you say, and how you say it, foster hunger inside prospects. Then give them a way to act on it. Here’s how to do it in three simple steps.

The Argument for a Better Way
Nothing says “ordinary” like the approach most of us are taking to LinkedIn profiles and groups. Hey, I’ve been there. I know what does not work: posting my latest blog article in groups and putting all kinds of bells and whistles on my profile.

Yet “LinkedIn experts” (most of whom never held a sales job!) say putting videos and multimedia is the key to success. No, it’s not.

Videos, multimedia and words that grab attention, hold it and give prospects a reason to become a lead is one of a handful of keys to success.

Generating leads is not about video, Powerpoint decks or links to your blog. Your success relies on how (or if!) you structure these tools to create response-leads!

Step 1: Attract Prospects by Provoking Responses
Here’s where to start. The idea is to start LinkedIn group discussions (or answer questions inside existing discussions) in ways that provoke questions and create opportunities to generate leads. The same strategy can be applied on your profile page.

LinkedIn is filled with people just like you. They have problems to solve or goals to reach. They’re ambitious. They’re hungry.

They need your help.

Your potential customers are craving better ways to:

  • avoid risks
  • compete better or create market distinction
  • make faster, smarter decisions

Start by kicking off a magnetic LinkedIn group discussion that gives them what they want. Use this practical formula:

  • Focus on a nagging pain prospects are suffering from,
  • quickly suggest a specific, genuinely new/unheard of remedy and …
  • ask for group members to give feedback on it.

Use your discussion title and first sentence of the description to appeal to the emotional frustration of prospects. Then say, “I know how to solve this problem” (and make that pain go away). Appeal to the emotional end result prospects are longing for.

For example, in the Linked Strategies group I asked, “Why isn’t LinkedIn generating LEADS for me?” in my title. My description presented a dramatic take on the issue, suggested a compelling solution to the problem and invited others to comment on it.

When writing the description of your discussion you’re trying to encourage prospects think, “That sounds important for me to understand. I wonder what, exactly, he/she means by that?”

Present your remedy in a way that encourages readers to ask for more details. Leave out most of the important details. You’ll get to them in Step No. 2.

Step 2: Getting Prospects Hungry for Your Answers
Remember the last time you needed something fixed urgently? You were impatient. LinkedIn users are the same. So get right to the point when starting a LinkedIn group discussion.

Don’t make readers wait for the solution you promised.

However, when it comes to ALL the juicy details of your remedy take it slow. How slow?

Slow enough to encourage more questions. Be specific. Be action-oriented. But avoid being so complete that readers become totally satisfied with your words.

The idea is to satisfy the curiosity of group members for the moment.

The success of your LinkedIn leads strategy hinges on holding the attention you worked so hard to get. But you have another goal: Creating hunger for an increasing number of “the details.”

As the discussion unfolds, keep revealing more-and-more tips and advice … BUT do it in ways that:

  • prospects can act on yet also …
  • leads them to ask more-and-more questions of you … and …
  • creates hunger for a BIG SHORT-CUT to what they want.

That short-cut will be a free video tutorial, whitepaper, checklist or e-book that you will trade in exchange for contact information. I call these “knowledge nuggets.”

This is where you get a business lead!

Step 3: Make Calls to Action That Give Prospects Choice
The final step of your new LinkedIn leads strategy involves making simple calls to action. This gives everyone a place to put all that pent up hunger for your “knowledge nugget.”

Here’s how: As you continue to reveal more-and-more there will be a point where it feels natural to offer prospects a short-cut. Think of it as giving them access to a bunch of the answers they’re craving in one fell swoop.

This is where you link to an elegant, focused opt-in lead form page on your website. I recommend doing this once and absolutely no more than twice within a given discussion.

WARNING: Don’t be crass, but do be direct. You’ve worked hard to get here. All that is needed is a clear, text-based call to action that is:

  • casual in tone (are not pushy) and suggestive (“this might help you if you are serious about _____”)
  • in context with how the discussion is flowing
  • promises free, step-by-step instructions, a way to learn a new skill, avoid a risk, make a decision etc.

Here’s a trick I find to be VERY effective: Tell them that the decision is theirs.

Present the call-to-action confidently. Let prospects know you’re doing this because it will help them … BUT … be sure to reaffirm your prospects’ freedom to choose. Doing this indirectly says to them: “I am not threatening your right to say no. You have free choice.”

Want exceptional lead generation results from LinkedIn? Stop practicing ordinary tactics and dallying over how much time to invest in a LinkedIn sales strategy. Most sales people experience ordinary results on LinkedIn because they don’t know about an exceptional approach. This one. Let me know how it works for you in comments!

Attribution and the ‘Mail Moment’ in the Multichannel Mix

At its Sept. 13 meeting, the Direct Marketing Club of New York hosted an engaging panel discussion regarding the use of direct mail in a multichannel world, and the panelists included representatives from Citigroup, Gerber Life and The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks. … Hearing from two financial service brands, and an agency that services brands in several markets, packed the house. I’m not sure if it was the topic or the brands who spoke, or both, that was the draw—but the information imparted prompted lots of audience interest and questions.

At its Sept. 13 meeting, the Direct Marketing Club of New York (DMCNY) hosted an engaging panel discussion regarding the use of direct mail in a multichannel world, and the panelists included representatives from Citigroup, Gerber Life and The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks.

The representatives included Linda Gharib, senior vice president, digital marketing, for Citi’s Global Consumer Marketing & Internet division; David Rosenbluth, vice president, marketing, Gerber Life Insurance Company; and, from the agency side, panel moderator Pam Haas, who is both vice president, sales, for agency services at Harte-Hanks (and first vice president for DMCNY), and Michele Fitzpatrick, senior vice president, strategy and insight, The Agency Inside Harte-Hanks.

Hearing from two financial service brands, and an agency that services brands in several markets (tech, consumer package goods, automotive, insurance, pharma and more), packed the house. I’m not sure if it was the topic or the brands who spoke, or both, that was the draw—but the information imparted prompted lots of audience interest and questions.

First, customer acquisition—at least in the financial services area—still appears to be very dependent on mail. At Gerber, Rosenbluth said, as many as a third of new business policies are still generated by direct mail, even as the brand is “omni-channel”—digital (including web site, search, display ads, email), direct-response television, as well as direct mail. For Citi, the brand is positioned No. 2 in the nation by Target Marketing in its “Top 50 Mailers” ranking for 2012 (which is ranked by overall revenue, not mail volume), Gharib said, solidifying its importance in both acquisition and retention.

Fitzpatrick agreed, noting that in financial services, where marketing is modeled most precisely for risk and performance, direct mail remains an acquisition workhorse, particularly on new product launches. For automotive and pharma verticals, however, where as much as 80 percent of transactions are researched anonymously beforehand online, digital media is used for hand-raising, and direct mail may be then used to deliver a brochure of other information in a highly segmented way to close the deal. “Consumer preferences [for media] are situational,” Fitzpatrick said.

Who gets credit for attribution, when a multichannel communications mix produces a desired response? At Citi, Gharib said, such discussions are a “work in progress,” where the final interaction point currently gets the credit, whether that is chat, direct mail, email or some triggered communication. Adding to the multichannel attribution discussion is the mix of advertising purposes—some are pure branding messages, while others are intended to elicit a response, but both may compel or influence customer behavior in some discernible (or indiscernible) manner. Hence, there is complexity in the attribution discussion.

Yes, indeed, says Rosenbluth, where “allowances” are given for each channel in regard to the brand’s most importance metric to manage: total costs to convert a policy. Currently, “last touch” gets the attribution on response, but the policy conversion metric is the bigger-picture measurement, where everyone gets to take some credit.

Fitzpatrick pointed to recent Forrester research where “fractional attribution”—first touch, mid-touch and last-touch on the path to purchase share credit—and “engagement” is modeled, rather than response (alone). Every brand should undertake a channel impact study to determine, as best it can, the impact of incremental sales as a result of a multichannel customer experience, while also researching receiver reaction research. Clearly, direct mail, email, chat and other channels can be both or either “conversation starters” and “conversation extenders,” but analytics is the only way to know the role of the channel for any given customer.

“There’s credibility in paper,” Gharib remarked, “that helps with both the brand and its consideration.” Where email is cluttered, direct mail largely is not.

At Gerber, Rosenbluth, there really is no brand spend, all market spending is intended to produce engagement.

Fitzpatrick sees almost all “below the line” spending getting a branding blend—branding and direct marketing have come together. All the panelists agreed: it’s really about the consumer experience across channels, and having a database that enables customer recognition and a full customer view. Having tons of data is not enough—it’s having technology and processes in place for customer data integration and analytics to create smart engagement rules.

The verdict? Direct mail is and will remain a vital part of the media mix—because it’s an anchor in the consumer’s experience and brand consideration mix. As digital gets more clutter, boy that mailbox is looking pretty.