One thing I noticed with high tech world we live in – few people actually plan their customer or prospect contacts. Winging it is ruling the day due to the instant or urgency tendencies of text messages and emails.
GEEZ! Winging it is a bad thing. It does not work with b2b sales presentations and it definitively does not work with phone calls, texts and emails. Okay, you Xer’s are laughing too hard about the email comment. Old Boomers enjoy calling the most, emailing next and texting is new to us.
Okay, some of you are possibly wondering why should you be planning your contacts. Look if you are planning your face to face calls, it is not very different. With the exception of being even more strategic with your phone calls, emails and texts.
Here are some facts to remember…
- Your best prospects and customers are very busy.
- These people are prioritizing WHO they return a contact
- There needs to be a real business related issue for them to move your call up the list.
- Unless you have Rock Solid credibility with a trust based relationship – they will not call or write back to you.
The above items are real in today’s b2b sales world. Things have changed since the 80’s and 90’s when people would automatically take your call, return a strangers call, and there was no email or texts to deal with back then – with the exception of the fax machine which was an earlier version of the email and text systems.
So why plan your touches with customers? Because you still need them to know you, trust you and buy from you when they are ready to buy.
It is harder to make contact with potential customers today – especially for us boomers who enjoy direct contact (visits) with the opportunity to get to know each other. Things have changed big time.
Today you have to think strategically to get potential customers involved with you. So here are five ideas to use in making better contact with potential customers.
- Identify Real Business Issues
Busy people will call you back when you give them the right reason to contact you. Have a list of possible issues, problems and trend information for them. Here is where having a written agenda of business issues and problems is critical. Every time you leave a message use another possible trigger for them to respond about. Also, write a script for your voice mails, have templates for your emails and another list of ideas for those short text messages (you can only use 140 characters and multiple texts is not good text etiquette.).
- Call During Off Hours
The best time to actually catch someone in the office is during off hours – such as before the office officially opens, lunch time, or after hours. Any other times of the day you will either get their voice mail – be prepared to leave a scripted message – or a gatekeeper type. By the way, I find the so called gatekeepers to be gate openers if you are polite and courteous to the human being doing their job.
- Be Short and Direct
It is time to be clear and thinking summary rather than a full report with attachments. Again, planning out your voice mails, introduction phone script and scripted templates for email and text messages will keep you on track. Winging it is a losers game.
- Use Curiosity Statements
Several years ago I learned to use curiosity generating messages. Sometimes they include statements whereby they are the only person who can answer my question. It was amazing how fast I got return calls using this “planned” method. Create your own list of curiosity questions or statement designed for them to take action. Key here is to always have a very good questions about a business issue planned and practiced.
- Do Not Sell Anything in Your Message
The interesting thing about today’s new world of b2b selling is you cannot actually act or sound like a sales person when you contact them. The number one individual a potential prospect does not want in their life is a pushy sales person. Pushy sales people are viewed as time wasters with no value added to help a business person improve their situation. Now they want business people who have insight and expertise to deal with their specific issues and challenges.
Your Goal is to be prepared with scripted and well practiced voice mails, email follow-up templates and a list of text message friendly items ( another reality check – you can only text message someone who is in possession of a cell phone – and you have the cell number. )
Another method you could use to get information to a potential customer is to find their Twitter and LinkedIn accounts and use direct messages or DM’s as the Xer’s say. Again, you need to have a clear plan of action with practiced scripts and templates to be more successful.
So enjoy the new world of b2b selling. Be a planner to join the ranks of the B2B Sales Superstar.