Rethinking the business development process: Some thoughts about sales techniques

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sales brain

In recent archives, you can read how I arrogantly brushed off a good customer because I took him to be an intrusive, inbound salesperson. This big error, demonstrating a lack of courtesy and human communication skills on my part, belied a deeper general problem about the sales process. It is this: most business owners/decision-makers (and gatekeeper personal assistants and receptionists) can smell with their “spidey sense” a salesperson a mile away — and their defences go through the roof.

The challenge, of course, is that “salesy” behaviour is reasonably common and natural to a salesperson — and it seems (at least for me) the spidey sense rejection reaction can happen even when the salesperson is actually a client.  I know I need to be more careful about this stuff, obvioulsy, and still try my best to be good in taking inbound calls, but this leads to the second problem:

Most inbound calls and uninvited emails come from marketers and salespeople trying to pitch something or another, and so (by default) almost ALL the emails and calls are mentally screened even before they are read (or answered).

In other words, if my personal perspective extrapolates properly to other business owners and decision-makers, business developers face two big hurdles even before they make first contact with a potential client: Their initial method of communication will send out warning flags, and their natural communicating style will deliver the killer blow to genuine rapport/relationship building.

How do you get around these problems, then?

Although I think Ari Galper may set excessively high fees for his paid services (he has the perfect right to charge whatever the market will pay, of course), he provides some clues about how to approach the proverbial cold call in this posting, No More Selling Scripts? 5 Ways to Be Yourself Again. 

The concept: Be more natural, engage in conversation, don’t force your deal and message forward . . . all of these make a lot of sense, but I think only really work effectively if you’ve done enough reserach or have enough “natural” linkages with the potential client to avoid the scripting culture/behaviour.  And even then, your natural “sales” voice inflection may give the game away.

Another approach to consider may be a combination of hard and soft.  Our company’s primary salesperson has started finding business by sending marketing materials to discrete lists (a few dozen or at most a hundred or so names), framed around certain themes and messages. These eletters are definitely advertisement emails and certainly qualify as “unsolicited commercial emails” under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (though they are perfectly legal to send in the US under the perhaps appropriately named US CAN-SPAM laws.) Sure, this is junk email, but it doesn’t stress things out too badly, and the mailings are small and targeted enough to avoid serious spamblock problems. And a  few readers bite.

Once the outbound call turns into an inbound response, the selling dynamic shifts, and it is much easier to manage things. If potential customers CALL and get a “salesy” response they aren’t nearly as offended as when they answer an uninvited sales call.

The best approach, if you are in the good position to have a natural place in the marketing universe, is to take it easy, look for genuine opportunities, and if you are going to pitch anything, base it on some unique and absolutely relevant messaging.

I can’t give you the wording or even the specific “step by step” approach to creating this type of communication here — because that would quickly turn into a script. And, as we know, that will lead to rejection and even more scripted responses.

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