Several months ago, while shopping at my favorite clothing store, a sales associate approached me asking if she could help me find anything. She eagerly greeted me by the door, as it was slow and I was only one of two customers at the time. Normally I would probably pass up the help and say I was just browsing, which is usually the case when I go there. I like to look around and see what’s new, what’s on sale. However, that day I had gone in there with a purpose; I was looking for a particular pair of jeans that I was unable to find online. I knew the jeans fit and looked decent, which is why I kept coming back. The sales associate informed me that they no longer had them, even though they had carried the style for a few years before. Whatever they had in inventory was the last pairs they’d sell. After she pointed out several pairs of the most expensive new jeans that I thought looked tacky and wouldn’t fit properly, I asked her if she could check the back to see if they had any of the old jeans still left in my size. She came back after a few minutes with a pair of the style I liked, but two sizes too small. I walked out the door without saying a word, and have not been back to that location since.
Could there possibly have been a similar pair in a slightly different style somewhere in the store? Most likely. But the sales associate conveyed to me two things; she didn’t care enough to ask me what I really wanted to suit my needs and help me find it, and she was desperate to make a sale.
Being on the receiving end of a cold call is much like being approached by an associate in a clothing store. You know that sales person is trying to sell you something and instantly you’re a bit guarded. This is part of why coming up with effective messaging for a sales or marketing campaign can be a difficult challenge. What is going to grab a prospect’s eye in their inbox to make them respond? How do you convey to a prospect exactly what you do, and why you can provide value in a few messages or in the first few seconds of catching them live on the phone? The answer: you don’t.
People are naturally curious about what they don’t know, and they are quick to come to assumptions about things they think they do know. If you give away a part of what your solution can do too soon that is not what the prospect needs, you may have them qualify themselves out before hearing what they might be interested in. People also like to talk about their interests and needs more than yours, and if they feel you’re not listening, they will walk away. Let the focus be on wanting to learn your prospects’ needs, and then tailor what you can do for them after you have an understanding of their environment.
You can do this by eliminating the word “I” whenever possible in your emails, voicemails, and introductions. Don’t leave the name of you product in your messages, either. Your prospect may have an assumption about your product already — possibly a misguided one. Ask open-ended questions instead until you hit the pain point. Your solution will still be a mystery, which will peak your prospect’s curiosity. Once the pain point is revealed, ask your prospect how helpful it would be for them if there were a solution that could solve that pain. Let them come up with the idea of needing that solution. With this approach, you can become the trusted advisor of how your solution could work to fit your prospect’s needs, and your prospect will be more receptive to hearing about it.
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