If you feel like something has shifted with sales communications, you are paying attention. We have more ways to communicate with our prospective clients than ever, yet it is more difficult to reach them on the phone. And just try to get a prospect to read an email, let alone respond to one. I read a statistic that, worldwide, there are 4 billion people with email. Every day we send 293 billion emails. Many of them are related to marketing and increasing automated prospecting sequences.
As more people leave the office and work from home, no one answers the office phone. You may have also noticed that voicemail inboxes are full, and increasingly your contacts’ cell phones can’t accept another message. This week I missed a text from my daughter because I had so many messages coming through that I couldn’t keep up with them all. We need to evolve a new set of best practices for sales communications.
Because sales is a conversation, it is the only vehicle for creating value and scheduling a first meeting. But the concepts and ideas here go beyond prospecting alone. In this article, we’ll explore trading value, ensuring our communication is relevant, the importance of an insight-based approach, and how to turn a push approach into a pull approach.
Trading Value, Not Just Pushing Products
Between salespeople and automated prospecting sequences, buyers and decision-makers are overrun with poor sales communications—to the point that they tune them out. Your email asking a contact for a meeting is one of many that will die at the hands of the delete key. Whether you are communicating via email, the phone, or a face-to-face meeting, you should trade value for your client’s time and their commitment to a meeting. I call this, simply, the Trading Value Rule, which you can learn more about in The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales. The rule states that any time you ask something of your client, you are responsible for trading enough value that it is worth the client’s time.
Most appeals for a meeting are nothing less than a sales pitch for the salesperson’s company and their products and services. You can test your sales communications by counting the times you say we. In face-to-face sales conversations where the legacy approach is still used, the salesperson communicates that their company, and their solutions are the best. This is what we mean when we say sales is broken.
My pitch for a meeting is built on trading value. I ask the prospect for 25 minutes to share with them the trends that will impact their business results in the next 6 to 12 months. I promise to give them the slide deck and a set of questions we are asking and answering with our clients. In that 25-minute meeting, there is no mention of my company or our offerings.
This approach is an extreme, other-oriented approach. It has a single focus, specifically using value creation strategies that proves to them that it’s safe to agree to a second meeting. Your first change in your sales communication should be to create value in every interaction.
Relevance Is Key
Slothful sales organizations and salespeople flood their contacts with irrelevant communications. You need only to open your LinkedIn InMail to find people pitching you for a meeting about something that isn’t remotely relevant to you. The spray-and-pray approach that died decades ago has been reanimated, and the people who use it might as well be the walking dead. Few of these communications, written, spoken, or delivered over the telephone, lack relevance.
Personalizing sales outreach is no longer enough to make it relevant. You need targeted sales messaging that earns your prospects’ attention. To provide an example of relevance, we will swerve into the next concept: insights. Here is an example: Gartner’s latest survey found that 75 percent of buyers now say they would like a salesperson-free buying experience, with 64 percent having bought a complex solution without a salesperson. This sends a clear message to sales leaders and sales managers who already recognize something has changed for the worse.
Salespeople who recognize how a modern approach can fix this problem, quickly learn that their messaging needs to be productive while encouraging action. A communication that isn’t relevant to the person receiving it is spam. Dave Brock offers this challenge: What if you only have 100 potential customers? His point is that reach isn’t the way to win your dream clients.
The Importance of Insight
No buyer, decision maker, or executive needs a meeting with a salesperson drone who has nothing to add to the decision-making process. The salesperson with no business acumen is of no use to these stakeholders, unless they are trying to transact.
More and more, decision-makers are not interested in salespeople who lack knowledge in their industry and who have no understanding of the prospect’s industry. It is poor form to ask a client what kind of problems they have, and to ask about the implications. For a moment, consider it from their perspective. The salesperson sitting across from you has said that their solution can help you, then they ask you what problems you’re facing. As a salesperson, you communicate with a prospect to address the challenges they face. This is insight-driven sales communication. You can improve your sales communications by building a set of insights that create value, are highly relevant, and are of interest to your potential clients. This is good sales communications.
To learn about your clients before communicating, search the internet for the trends in their industry. If you cannot help your stakeholders with an understanding of what they need to consider and what they need to do to succeed, selling will be difficult.
Use a Pull Approach, Not Just a Push Approach
Many of the ways salespeople communicate rely on a push strategy. In the future of sales communication, there will be more of a pull approach. As we create new sales strategies for sales communication, it will be important to trade value, relevance, and insights that are not widely known. People don’t love being bored by sales pitches, but they enjoy learning something that will help them improve their results. If you pay attention, you will find that reading a contact’s body language can tell you how you are doing. Our sales communication skills will need to evolve to let sales teams use effective sales communication strategies. It also means a change to our sales workflows, sales process, and messaging and sales teams that are informed, engaged, and productive.
It isn’t easy to use a pull approach instead of a push strategy, but it is going to be increasingly important, especially in the coming apocalypse of cold outreach and poor sales experiences. The importance of trading value is a best practice for sales communication and providing engaging sales conversations.
Best Practices for Sales Communications
With the overwhelming sales communications most knowledge workers receive each day, your contacts have little trouble blocking them out. To break through the noise, you need to communicate the value you can create for your clients. Your communication needs to be relevant and provide insights that enable decision-making and change management.
Rethink your sales communication strategies and what messages you are sending to your contacts and prospects. Answering the question about what your client might benefit from your sales communication will put you on the right path with effective sales communication strategies.