Paying Attention To The Cues/Clues


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It’s pop quiz time. Be honest, don’t scroll down to get the answer. Here we go:

You are a seller, you get a notification that I have downloaded a research report offered on your website. The research is the results of a market study on sales performance.

When you call to me to follow up, what do you think I might be most interested in?

A: My interest in the market research and whether I might want to learn more.

B: Your products.

Maybe, you decide to spend 5 minutes doing some prep/research before calling me. You might look at my website, which was on the form I filled out. You might look at my LinkedIn profile. You would learn I run a consulting company. I write a lot about, and hold strong opinions on selling and sales performance.

Adding that 5 minutes of research on me, what do you think I might be most interested in talking about?

A: My interest in the market research and whether I might want to learn more about that research?

B: Your products.

Maybe, you want to be well prepared. You happen to search for me or my company in your CRM system, you find that we are already customers and use several of your products. And we’ve been a customer for years.

With that deep insight, what do you think I might be most interested in talking about?

A: My interest in the market research and whether I might want to learn more.

B: Your products.

Final question. If you had to make a wild assed guess what were the actual follow up voicemails and emails that I got were about?

I’m now trapped in their follow-up sequences. Each outreach is always the same, “I’m reaching out to you about your interest in our products and would be glad to help you with any questions you might have about them.” Even worse, they are all the same.

Yet nothing in that interchange indicates any interest in their products!

It doesn’t take a lot of detective work or insight to figure out, “Dave might be more interested if we started the conversation with his interest in the research. He might pick up, he might respond…..”

Somehow, that seems too obvious and simple. But of course to reach that conclusion you have to think about “what might the prospect be interested in, what clues do I have about the potential interest?”

Instead, we are scripted to focus on our interests, talking about our products.

I download a lot of research from this sales/marketing technology company. I always get the same follow ups, always starting within 15 minutes of the download, “Why are you interested in our products. How can I help you.”

It’s worse, 100% of the whitepapers I download on market research, industry issues, from any vendor, always get the same type of outreach. I have yet to be asked, “What is your interest in the research, can we help you learn more?” Those are conversations I will always respond to–and they might lead/should lead to how the company addresses the issues raised in the reports—and might lead to my interest in learning more about those solutions.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out what I might be interested in, based on this single interaction. In fact, one of the neighbor kids was at my house. He’s a high school sophomore, I hired him to do some weeding. I posed the same quiz to him–at least the first part. He thought a moment and said, “I’d probably ask you about the research!” Gold star–there is hope for the future!

Sadly, we waste so many opportunities to engage our customers, even when we have clues about what they might be most interested in. We rush to talk about what we are interested in, our products. And that’s why customers don’t answer our calls or respond to our outreach, even when their actions initiated the sequence of follow ups.

It’s stunning that we use the same script, regardless of what the customer has asked for. It seems to me that it’s very easy to train our people: “If they download this paper on market research, you should probably ask these questions…..If they download this paper on industry issues, you might go down this path….If they have downloaded a paper comparing product features and functions, you should probably ask these questions, maybe then offer a demo….”

Some years ago, I worked with a SaaS software company. It was enterprise based software, but they offered a free 30 day trial for prospects to explore the solution. Originally, for every trial request, they reached out to the prospect within 60 minutes. They always calleed to talk about the product and when they intended to make a decision to buy. Response rates to these calls were less than 20% and conversion rates on those that responded were less than 30%.

We made a simple change to that initial conversation, based on the “clues” we could discern in signing up for the trial. We thought, “Why don’t we focus on the trial, we know they have an interest in doing that?” We called them, thanking them for starting a trial. Then we asked, “What are you trying to learn? Are you looking to test for something specific? What are your objectives? How can we help you achieve these objectives?” The shift was helping the customer get value out of the trial, not getting them to buy.

We had an 85% response rate to those queries, and 60% of those resulted in orders.

Even the simplest interchanges give us a lot of clues about what our customers might be interested in. Whether it’s what they are downloading, their title/role in their company, their companies, the questions they ask. If we just paid attention to figuring out what they are interested in, what they are trying to do, we might be more successful in engaging them.

Are you paying attention to the cues/clues?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.


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