In the business world it’s a casual phrase that’s tossed around all the time.
- I thought I’d reach out to tell you a little bit about our company.
- I thought I’d reach out to see if we could set up a time to chat.
- I thought I’d reach out to give you one of our new white papers.
- I thought I’d reach out to introduce myself and make sure you understand my company. And then you can buy something!
OK, that last one was over-the-top. But more broadly, “to reach out” means to initiate contact with someone, with the implied implication that the contact will be helpful or beneficial to the person being contacted. The problem is your targeted audience doesn’t believe you. They’ve been conditioned to understand that it’s not going to be beneficial for them because those messages typically result in the one-sided outcomes they’ve experienced time after time. In fact, in all the many ways I’ve been “reached out to” I remember very few occasions where the implied purpose of a first meeting was to listen and learn about my situation. Too bad, because shifting from “me-focused” to “you-focused” is not that difficult, and it yields a much better first impression.
Just how might a “you-focused” message sound? Probing statements or questions that open people up and eventually enable you to answer the ultimate thought that every prospect has on their mind; “what’s in this for me?”
- I’d really enjoy hearing about your company.
- I’d really enjoy learning about your career and particularly your work at XYZ Company.
- I’d be interested to see where your application fits in the various markets.
- I’d be interested in any background information you can share about the changes facing your industry.
Wait a second Alan; those aren’t typical qualification questions. How can those statements be helpful to my lead generation strategy? Also, why should an executive feel compelled to bring me up-to-speed or educate me on her career or company? Really, I just want to immediately work through my BANT process:
- Do they have a BUDGET for a project?
- Does the person I’m speaking to have the AUTHORITY to sign the deal.
- Do they have a NEED for my solution?
- Have they established a TIME FRAME for their decision?
Yes, I know the example above doesn’t necessarily reflect the order or all the questions that you might want to know for your particular situation. But the point is you’re currently trying to jam every encounter into your sales process and have dismissed the thought of nurturing prospects to tease out important information and to build a trust-based relationship over time.
I hate to break the news to you, but your prospect is just not that into you. If you’re hoping your prospect is “struggling” with [blah blah blah] and that they’re losing sleep and will instantly anointed you as their “trusted advisor” … well, as they say, “hope is not a strategy.”
“I thought I’d reach out” or “I just wanted to touch base” messages are best sent once you’ve earned trust. Otherwise they are viewed as just another gimmick to try and gain attention.