We live in a time of instant connections, instant information and – potentially – instant gratification.
We live in the era of Facebook Messenger, iMessage, and Whatsapp – and while these new apps and social platforms do offer you instantaneous contact, they’re not forgiving. Stalker Sarah can’t pretend that Beau’s lack of a response is because he hasn’t read her message – Facebook shows a check and alerts her that her message has been seen. iMessage shows her message as Read and tells her exactly when he read it. And Whatsapp (I know, girl is persistent!) presents her with two green arrows.
We live in the era of Snapchat – not only does Sarah know that Beau saw all of her snaps (and continuously chose to ignore her), but she can see that he likes someone else (one of her Snapchat friends – the scandal!) better than her.
Establishing A Relationship
We live in a world that grants us so many opportunities to make instantaneous contact with an interest of ours that we oftentimes are not strategic about our approach (hello, Stalker Sarah above). In doing so, we risk missing out on what could be a beautiful relationship. Very often, we are too hasty, we are too persistent, and we go about things the wrong way. Take Stalker Sarah for example: Maybe she could have waited until they both swiped right (right?) before sinking her claws in him, letting the charming pickup lines of Tinder make magic happen.
Unfortunately, when we look at Sales Sally instead of Stalker Sarah, we see a woman going through the same struggle, trying to figure out how to best make contact with an interest in a way that will create a beautiful, fruitful relationship. Sales Sally has to consider the same things – how to make contact, when to make contact, and what to say – except for Sales Sally, not doing something right can cost thousands of dollars, as opposed to just a bit of pride. And believe it or not, once you know you’re going after the right person, success can come down to a few details.
How Do You Reach Out?
Let’s be clear; in today’s Do-Not-Call meets Spam-Blocker world, you don’t cold call. While it may have worked for Lloyd in Say Anything, it probably won’t work for Stalker Sarah, or for you. People respond to stimuli differently now – they don’t just up and buy the first thing they see. In fact, it now takes eight cold calls just to make contact, whereas in 2007 only 3.8 were required.
That’s not to say calling can’t be effective – it can be, but only if you’re expected.
When deciding how to make your first follow up, consider this: the natural, open-ended flow of a personal conversation can accomplish more than an email, whose results are already limited. Phone calls allow you to:
- Garner an opt-in – actual permission to send more information
- Discover whether your recipients are influencers or decision markers
- Discover your recipients’ roles
- Understand exactly what they want to know
- Adapt your sales process to their buying process
- Actually build a connection
Once these foundations are built and a connection is established, your name will be recognizable. Thus, sending follow-up emails from your name instead of a generic sales@ address will have a better chance of actually getting opened, read, and clicked through.
When Do You Reach Out?
In the age of instant information it may be tempting to reach out to a lead as soon as your Sidekick notifications pop up showing that someone has viewed your site or your content. But don’t do it. Don’t be Stalker Sarah. In today’s world, people buy differently than they used to. They want to be the ones to do their research and come to their own conclusions. In fact, in today’s world where the buyers have the power, they want to be nearly 60% through their own buying process before they are approached by a salesperson.
Where your customers are inbound buying, you need to be inbound selling.
But, you say, as a salesperson, I need to reach out soon – like, within the hour soon.
While this may seem a bit Stalker Sarah-ish, it’s actually key to being an effective salesperson. Research by South Korea’s Sungkyunkwan University (included in the Harvard Business Review) states that companies that try to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving queries are nearly 7 times as likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision markers as businesses that try to contact prospects even an hour later.
So the key is reach out within the hour – but only reach out once the lead is qualified. Wait until they’ve downloaded pieces of your content that demonstrate their progression through the buyer’s journey. Don’t just jump on the first poor soul to view your website. Be strategic, Sales Sally! Have patience and wait for qualified leads to come in – and then act intelligently.
At this time, only 37% of salespeople respond within an hour. Do you?
I’m not trying to harp on Stalker Sarah, but she and Sales Sally are practically soul sisters. They’re both in very similar positions: Each is trying to create a fruitful relationship with a person of interest. The only difference is that Stalker Sarah uses every possible way to create a connection and does so all at once, whereas Sales Sally uses each channel of contact, but uses each at different points, each with a different objective.
Because Sales Sally takes the time to understand her interest’s wants and needs, and targets those specifically, Sales Sally is on the road to inbound sales success, and soon to be in a committed, mutuallly beneficial, sales relationship.
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