Obvious to many people in the sales trade, the time of smile and dial is far behind us. Still, I frequently come across sales people who are beating themselves up (not to mention their prospects) with old school methods of prospecting.
Yes, selling is still a numbers game. But, buyer mentalities have changed and so must the sales strategy. Here are 4 basic tips to improve your sales efforts in today’s market:
1. Find a common interest
Sales really has no excuse for NOT finding a common interest or connection with a prospect in today’s world of LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Blogging, Online Groups/Forums/Communities, etc. Do your research and call out the common interest to gain some personal relevance.
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2. Leverage marketing content
Good marketing content has a specific audience, pain point and solution in mind. Offer relevant content to prospects to show that:
-You want to help them
-You’re interested in uncovering whether there’s a “need” before “selling” them on something
-Your company has experience solving the types of problems the prospect is likely experiencing
Check out Howard Sewell’s post on packaging offer content for higher response.
3. Don’t assume they’re a suspect just based on demographics
Just because someone is a CXO at the type of company you work with, don’t assume they’ll fall all over themselves to hire you or buy your product. Maybe they have a need, maybe they don’t. Maybe they’ll have a need later. But, you’ll turn off most prospects by aggressively following up with calls and emails that all have the standard “Just following up with you on my last (insert boring follow up tactic here).”
Instead try continuing to offer helpful tips or offer to connect them with people in your network that they might be interested in meeting. But don’t make them commit to something before they’ve engaged with you. Let the initial engagement be on their terms.
4. Listen (online and offline)
If you’re not “listening” to conversations online as well as offline, you’re losing out on potential opportunities. Your prospects are offering information about their needs all the time – yet many sales people are too focused on “selling” to listen.
Use resources like LinkedIn Groups and user communities to your advantage and “listen” for pain points that you can address. In following up, instead of responding in the community forum with a solution, sometimes it’s better to reach out personally with an offer to help. It seems less “salesy”. Even better, ask a client or partner that’s in the group or community to endorse you.