Learn from Social Selling to make your e-mails hot

It has happened fast, the shift from using social media in your daily selling. Studies such as this from CEB and Google tells more than one-half of the sales process is gone. Or, more precisely, customers run their buying process at least 57% before they get in touch with a sales rep, in some cases much longer than that.

Conclusion: There’s not much time left to make some impact on your prospects’ decisions.

New social media techniques are therefore essential for your sales success. However, one part of your sales lead production is still left to be traditional, such as sending a prospecting e-mail. It may not be a great part of your sales work and it will definitely be decreasing. But you’d better not ignore it in a foreseeable future.

The challenge is though, partly because of the mentions above, it’s getting harder to create sales leads from traditional methods. So what to do?

Why not turn the knowledge transfer the other way round? Why not learn from recently learned social selling skills and apply those best practise on traditional prospecting as well?

Social selling to e-mail

To do so, you need to define what elements in your social selling that are key to your success and map them to traditional selling tasks. The very best experts in this area is Barbara Giamanco. My own key elements are these five:

  • Curiosity
  • Relevance
  • Value
  • Expertise
  • Ease

Curiosity. Most of us are crazy curious about things we are interested in. You might be interested in discussions in your specific marketplace and what your competitors are doing right now. Social media lets you see what they are discussing and bother about for the moment.

Relevance. In today’s overflow of information you need to be mega relevant when you discuss things. Don’t bother participate in social media discussions or write articles if you’re not relevant.

Value. Only pure customer value counts in social media. Value is measured by the customer, not you.

Expertise. Customers are doing a major part of their buying process without contacting you, but they still need information. They turn to their personal contacts and relevant public information to make their decisions. In social media, it’s easier than ever to be their “personal” contact and provide in depth relevant information.

Ease. In social media you cannot sell. Your only “sale” is a “like”, comment or an accepted invitation on LinkedIn. Easy actions from prospects are connected to a sort of “cost” for them, but it’s affordable low, such as “Yes, I can like this article”, “Well, I should comment on this” or “Fair enough, I can afford to be his friend or contact”.

OK, I will now try to apply my social selling key elements to a traditional prospecting e-mail that turns it from cold to really hot. For some years now I’ve been able to test a method using these social selling key elements in traditional prospecting e-mails with extraordinary results.

In 96% of the cases I’ve got contact and a booked meeting with the right people, access to the decision maker and a list of people that have an impact on my sale.

My method uses both phone and e-mail, and requires three prerequisites:

  1. Cell phone number to the most top manager you can get
  2. E-mail address to the same
  3. At least one success story this top manager can relate to (a competitor to his business is ultimate)

Prepare a short manuscript for leaving a short voicemail (because he will likely not answer your call) to the top manager when you call. Don’t forget to finish with: “…I will also send you an e-mail summarizing what I’ve said for your convenience”. This is just a heads-up when the e-mail arrives and connects to your first sentence in your e-mail.

Now it’s time to compose the e-mail.

Subject line. The only purpose of the subject line is to make the top manager to open your e-mail and should consist of two things and in this order: Relevance + Curiosity. The part of the subject line “Heat Exchangers” makes Relevance (if e-mail sent to top manager in a industrial construction company) and the part “Competitor X” stimulates Curiosity (“what have they done that makes relevance to us…?”).

Example: Heat Exchangers to Competitor X

First sentences in Body. The first sentences in the body will do two things; connect to your voicemail and pitch Value. These first sentences are maybe the only few the top manager will read, so plan your words very carefully. The sentences have to be short and describe the value generally so the top manager easily can understand it. The value has to be relevant to his role, challenges he may struggle with and in words such as money, bottom line, etc.

Example: “I was trying to reach you earlier today but didn’t succeed, so here’s a short summary of my voicemail. As you certainly are aware of, the Challenge B has become a major concern to companies in your industry. As I mentioned in my voicemail, we’ve been working together with Competitor X and by implementing our heat exchangers with our unique feature Y, Competitor X has decreased their total cost by 20% and improved their bottom line with more than 15%. I would like to discuss with you how we’ve been able to achieve these improvements related to your specific business environment”.

Middle body. This part has to be written pretty complex. The reason is that when the top manager starts to read it, he may understand what it is about, but need to involve expertise to determine if it’s interesting enough to spend time on. What will he do?

Yes, of course the top manager will distribute the e-mail to whom it belongs to. And this is exactly what you want!

You want other people impacting your case to be engaged. Also, when anybody later on get in touch with you it might be by forwarding your own e-mail message. If so, you can just scroll down and see all relevant names by reading cc:s etc.

The body should further explain what you’ve done at Competitor X and what more value they’ve got by implementing your solution. You have to show your deep expertise. But please note, I don’t encourage you to reveal competitors’ business critical details and break non-disclosure agreements. Your text in the body should therefore consist of industry details that the internal experts or department managers can relate to and judge to be true and credible, without having you to reveal secrets.

Communication should be in context of “from one expert to another”. This part of your e-mail has to win those experts’ hearts. They don’t easily change their minds investing in new partners or technology, because they’re not embracing change and are definitely prioritizing low risk above most other things. But they also are pragmatists and may be convinced by market leaders. That’s reminds me of the most excellent book in marketing strategy I know, Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A Moore. It tells the higher relevance you have to their needs and greater market leadership you may prove, the higher chance you’ll get. Maybe you’re not the well-known market leader, but nobody says how tiny markets should be defined…

Finish. The finish will call for action, but in bite size. It really should be “at no cost” to further engage with you. That makes the Ease for them to engage. “Why not, a meeting with this guy only cost us the time of one hour…?”

Example: “I’d like to schedule a one hour meeting at your premises, anytime that fits your schedules and of course entirely unconditionally, where I may further explain what we’ve done for Competitor X and other companies in your industry”. You see, you conclude your message with curiosity as well to improve your snakebite rate…

Now you have to wait. Don’t disturb the process for a while by calling them too early to follow up. My experience is that a minimum “radio silence” of three weeks are necessary for their process to execute. Think about it; there are lots of things you may have set in motion on the prospect’s side: e-mails that have to be forwarded, internal discussions, meetings etc.

So just wait. Your social selling boosted e-mail is hopefully just getting hotter than ever.

 

 

Don’t Ask The Customer: Do Your Homework

Today was the third day in a row a sales person called and made exactly the same mistakes, ended up too suddenly.

Hi, I’m Paul. I’m calling from The Company X. Can you tell me who is responsible for Marketing in your organization?

Just a short sentence. I heard some background noise as well, imaging he was in a room where many people were doing the same as him.

It wasn’t abnormal. It was a typical sales call, but ended up in the same way as the other recent calls I got this week. I hung up. I never do such otherwise, except if I’ve not having time at all. I learn from bad and good sales people, just spending a few minutes, to get a fresh experience of how sales reps are working nowadays, to get the stories of behavior and to perfect the advice I give to sales and business leaders.

research

This week wasn’t a bad one. And I wasn’t in a bad mood at all. Still; I couldn’t stand the way these sales persons called. It was so many faults.

So, can you “Find Five Faults”?

First.

When you call, go to a quiet place. If I hear other voices, I think of two scenarios – both are bad. Either the working environment is too bad for the person calling: “are they really so many employees so close to each other?” or – and more obvious: it’s a call center guy with a list to call. So my feeling is that I’m devalued, only being a row in a list. If he doesn’t catch me, it doesn’t matter, he’s just going on calling…

Second.

He didn’t know my name. Addressing by pronouncing the receivers name means he want to speak with me personally, not my role or position.

Third.

Don’t ask for anything if you’re not giving something first. The sales rep asked me to give him the name of my marketing manager. Why should I? What do I get in return? A ticket to the cinema or theater? It connects to the Third as well: He don’t want to talk to me, just my role. To bad for him, since I am the marketing manager…

Fourth.

Do your homework. You may find most information about my company on the internet. As a sales rep, if you don’t have the time to spend a couple of minutes scanning my web to get who is the marketing manager, you probably not are having time to help me either. You will take my money and go away. I understand, sometimes the information on the net can be somewhat scanty, but again, that’s no problem. There’s lists to buy. If you can’t afford buying a list of names – I recognize that as a not solid enterprise you’re calling from.

Fifth.

Begin your call by mentioning a pain you know – and I mean really know – the prospect has. Even if most of the sales process is gone nowadays, the buying process is still ongoing. Take part in your prospects’ searching for help and best practise, using social media channels. Learn to be a helping star and you will get close enough to hear their biggest pains.

Don’t take me wrong here. I really care about you sales reps out there. I’ve been a rep by myself and I know the hard work you have to do. But why are you walking a path full of thorns?

Good luck out there!

 

 

 

Get 100% Prospecting Response. How?

This post is also available on the Blog Radio.

Every sales rep is looking for maximal response on his actions taken. But much of his actions leaks out with no revenue. The result is higher sales costs per time unit and a lot bad buzz and frustration among sales people, stressing around trying to reaching quota by using quantity measures instead of quality in actions.

Wouldn’t it be relaxing if you know that every action you take will lead to a certain goal? What would such actions be? Is there some sort of best practise?

I’m not sure if there is a sort of best practise. However, I’ve been using a technique that works every time with perfect results. But it’s like walking on the tightrope; if you do one detail wrong you will fall hard.

Tightrope

Some requirements are needed, but surprisingly few:

  • Cell phone and e-mail address to the prospect’s highest level top manager
  • At least one great success story describing a competitor to the prospect

See, it’s not much. If you don’t have sold exactly the same product or service to the prospect’s competitor, it’s not a big problem, but it will be a little easier later on. The important is, however, that you’ve sold anything to the competitor.

But maybe you say: “it’s a lot of work to get the cell phone and e-mail to a CEO…”. Well, it depends on how you see it. Is it better to waste a hell lot of more hours spent on actions that not lead to anything more than nothing, so go ahead…

OK, so you got the cell and e-mail? Good, now why. Here’s a common misunderstanding. That the CEO will answer when you call or reply to your e-mail. He will not. And why should you then spend much energy search for his number or e-mail? I’ll try to explain.

First of all, prepare a pretty detailed e-mail – but don’t sent it yet! Everything has to be in the exactly right order as I tell you!

The subject have to include your competitor’s name. This is really important, don’t miss that. The body text in the e-mail should in detail describe what you’ve been doing at the competitor’s side and the positive impacts they have got thanks to your solution. Write the text as it was targeted to the business user of your prospect. If you sell CRM systems, the detailed body text should be written for a sales manager, not the CEO. If you sell heat exchangers for industries, the text may be targeted to a maintenance manager. It’s important that the text describes advantages that helps that type of business user.

When you’re ready, save the e-mail (still do not send!). Now it’s time for preparing the phone call. Prepare it for a voice mail situation, because the CEO will not answer when you call. He’s too busy.

The phone call voice mail have to be informative. Not only who’s calling, your number and please call back. Remember, so far you’re a complete stranger to the CEO. You have to present what your reason is for contacting him and – for God’s sake – don’t forget to mention your competitor’s name! It’s also important to end with the phrase: “…to sum up, I will also put together an e-mail for you”. That will legitimates to send it and also, even if the CEO has thousands items in his inbox, in some sense makes him aware that “I haven’t got to remember all of what this stranger might say right now”. He will also have the feeling it’s so much info in your voice mail – and his competitor is mentioned – that he definitely will keep an eye on his inbox.

Easiest is to simply write down on paper what you’re intending to say, so you’re not having a black-out when it comes to “…please leave a message after the beep”.

So, after you’ve prepared the e-mail and the voice mail, it’s time for action. Pick up your phone and call the CEO, have your prepared voice mail text available. In 99% of the cases, the CEO will not answer, but if he against all odds does, don’t be afraid: You’re well prepared to say your message.

When the voice mail is recorded, don’t wait to send your prepared e-mail to the CEO.

But then you have to wait. My experience says about 2-3 weeks before any response. This is opposite to all other sales techniques that require pretty immediately contact. But I’m sure you have to wait much longer. Why?

Because this will happen: The CEO scans his unread e-mails, typically at least once a day. He reads the subject line only and most of the e-mails he just leave as unread or moves to trash. But when he comes to your e-mail it’s different. He stops because he read his competitor’s name in the subject line, which causes him to open the e-mail of two reasons; he is – as everybody else – curious and he is afraid to miss anything about his marketplace that would cause him to be left behind in the business race. He feels it’s worth the price to read your e-mail.

Since the e-mail is not written for him – it was written for the business user  – he may think the e-mail is too complex to understand or he will understand, but sees instant action is required. Both cases are good for you.

So. The CEO hasn’t got time to act himself, but he thinks it has to take action upon. The e-mail is therefore forwarded to the business user, sometimes with c/c to several more people in the CEO’s management team. Count on that you will be contacted within some weeks by the business user or somebody else in this group.

Congrats! Your topic is brought to awareness in the entire management team, the further contacts with your prospect is supported from the highest level and your name is presented to all of the people you need to talk getting your deal closer.

And now. Your real sales work can be started.