Sales Pros Benefit By Leveraging Digital Footprints
Back in the day – before technology infiltrated our lives – warming cold calls took time, effort and ingenuity. You know, the old-fashioned (believe it or not) in person networking, gaining referrals and getting to know a prospect in advance of that first meeting so you could drop a name, gain instant credibility and ideally connect on a personal level so you weren’t just another salesperson trying to sell them and the call wasn’t so cold. Gaining a little knowledge about the person you’re trying to build a relationship with – do they hunt, fish, yogi, vaca with the family at Disney World each year, or whatever – was and is an icebreaker above and beyond the “how-do-you-do, I’m so-and-so with such-and-such company and we do blah-blah-blah”. Hard to believe that impersonal, uneducated intro ever worked effectively for anyone but even today so many sales pros do exactly that. Relationship building doesn’t happen overnight and quality over quantity has always been my mantra. Quality relationships begin with a foundation to build upon and I’ve found the strongest foundation is in getting to know the person as a person before attempting to connect – i.e. warming the cold out of the call.
But the playbook on getting to know someone has changed, and not just a little but a lot. In the new millennium the old-fashioned trade-shows, Lunch-N-Learn, Business Before Breakfast and Business After Hours just aren’t part of the equation like they were once upon a time. More than ever though it’s essential to connect with someone on a personal level or that relationship you’re hoping to build doesn’t stand a chance. Good news is it’s never been easier or taken so little time getting to know someone like you can today and all thanks to our narcissistic society and an individual’s resulting digital footprint. Surprising thing is so many sales professionals don’t seem to know this, and those managing them either don’t know what their reps are doing or themselves don’t know how to warm a cold call in the digital age.
91% of professionals check their email daily but most emails fall short.
Today email is the predominant channel for building relationships with the majority of buyers preferring email over voice calls or in-person visits. Unfortunately email preference is also the ideal scenario for sales reps who’re outside their comfort zone contacting people they don’t know or those who lack experience and know-how on warming the cold out of a call. Email insulates from the sting of rejection and if you’re sending a gazillion emails each day you can honestly tell a manager you’re doing the job and have a robust sent folder to prove it. Never mind the abysmal outcome of sending cold emails.
On any given day I receive dozens of impersonal, one size fits all, quantity over quality cold emails and all start out something like –
(gosh I hate it when they don’t even take time to learn my gender)
I’m so-and-so with such-and-such and we offer blah-blah-blah.
Would you be interested in…..?
The so-and-so, such-and-such and blah-blah-blah obviously aren’t the words used but honestly those are the words I see in each message despite the real words written, and I never read past those 5 words “Would you be interested in..” but I’ll take less than 5 seconds to delete with no afterthought to the sender’s name, company or what they’re trying to sell.
Maybe your intro emails aren’t completely cold and look nothing like that but you’re still not achieving the hoped for response – here’s how to go about leveraging our wonderful culture of narcissism.
Spend a few minutes seeking out the social channels your prospective customer spends time on and get to know a little about them before sending a relationship building email. Get a sense of personal and professional interests and any challenges the person might be facing.
For hints on things they’re interested in or what they might be looking for or need help with, search for questions they’ve posted then email a link that provides the answer and introduce yourself.
What type of articles or links have they liked or shared? Based on those interests, what can you share that might also be of value to them?
Learn what they like to do in their spare time. Clothing worn in photos can be very telling like camouflage with orange hat is a dead give-away (no pun intended) or logos could indicate college or sports teams they support while t-shirts with last year’s charity run/walk could point to a particular cause or life-choice commitment. Can you make a personal connection with similar interests?
Facebook’s About tab could inform where someone’s lived or life events like birthdays or getting married. Although public profiles can sometimes be limited there’s usually at least one golden nugget to be found somewhere, if not an entire goldmine.
Professional channels such as LinkedIn can prove enormously informative providing
♦ Employment history and roles they’ve had
♦ Endorsed skills and colleague recommendations
♦ Schools attended – did you go there too or know anyone who did?
♦ Do they volunteer?
♦ Who do they follow and what groups are they aligned with? Do you share any?
Google the person for publications or events they’re possibly mentioned or featured in. You may even find someone authors a blog of their own and have the chance to engage with a comment or gain attention by sharing their posts on your social channels. Then your warm email could start with “I really enjoyed your blog and shared it with my peeps”. I’d continue reading an email that opened with that line <hint>.
Digital footprints inform which information your prospective customer finds most meaningful. And guess what? What most find most meaningful is often ego-based. Truth is, that’s always been the case but sales pros have never had the vast amount of resources at their fingertips like we have today. Actual touch-points for relationship building hasn’t changed all that much but the means to relationship building most certainly has. E-socialization is the easiest, quickest and best means of learning what drives interests and egos. Leverage the pervasive narcissism in our culture today, stroke egos when need be and above all care enough to learn about the person as a person (especially their gender for crying out loud) before clicking send. Ditch the cold, impersonal email for one that’s warm, personal and relationship building. Do more than sell someone something – compose messages that bring value to an email conversation and thereby the relationship. DON’T pitch your product and ask for the sale in that initial email. Engage first and save the ask for future messages once they’ve gotten to know and trust you.
A bit of social channel research can go a long way toward building quality relationships that in the end improve sales performance.
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