We all need more customers and if you’re a small business or startup, you know better than anyone it is essential to succeed. So why does prospecting seem to be so tough? Without the big bucks for marketing, we rely on cold calls and cold emails to generate interest. It’s a numbers game, or so we’re told…but after all the time and energy spent, the few responses you get don’t cut it. That is why sales experts are recommending Account Based Sales Development, they are worrying less about the volume and more about the quality.
The most difficult transition into Account Based Sales Development is justifying taking the time and energy to research your prospects in order to tailor your message. It can feel like you are wasting precious time and missing out on getting in another dial. In B2B sales, the clock doesn’t stop and when the pressure is on it’s easy to revert to cutting corners and using automation tools to just get it done.
The key is playing sales as a value game; not a numbers game. Keep in mind the most important reason we call and email strangers all day: we know that we can help by solving a very real problem. That all begins with an email or a conversation that doesn’t get brushed off, but engages your prospect enough to see what’s in it for them. It’s not rocket science, the only way an Account Based Sales approach delivers results is when you have laser focus, go the extra mile and add VALUE. Here is a start:
Never send an email without personalizing 100% first
The concept and benefits of personalization is a no-brainer; it’s the execution that trips us up. The shift from quantity to quality can be overwhelming at first; we get caught up in the details and get stuck on what to say. Don’t overthink it and remember your prospects are people, not robots.
- Re-craft your email templates in a way that forces you to tailor each message. Take away the option to get lazy and hit “Send All”. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be, nail down the pain points that will hit home with your prospect based on their title, function industry or other easily identifiable traits.
- Dig into your prospect’s LinkedIn page or Twitter – Don’t be creepy! But if you both run marathons, cleverly tie that into your subject line
- Be aware of content your prospects share and start a conversation. Read an article they shared – let them know you liked it
To paraphrase #GaryVee,“It’s all about depth, not width”. An Account Based Sales approach will be impossible if you don’t specialize. Have specific accounts already in place in verticals where you can become an expert.
Focus on building relationships: Add value, don’t sell
Being an altruistic sales rep may be in your best interest. Mark Williams reiterated this on the Andy Paul’s Accelerate podcast with a version of the saying “Salespeople are too busy selling to help their prospects”. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your quota, your dials and your pipeline that we forget: It’s NOT about us. It’s about solving a real problem for our customer. If we shift the focus back to the customer and how you can help them, everything else will fall into line.
Salespeople often have the audacity to ask something of the busy executive they are cold calling, most likely asking them to take time (like they have any). We have no credibility or rapport with the prospect, yet time and time again we are confused or disappointed when the response is a big fat ‘NO’.
Shift your focus from selling to adding value:
- Share a relevant article.
- Leverage your network and connect your prospect with a lead.
- Be active on LinkedIn and Twitter – you are the expert in the space you sell into and your insights are more valuable than you realize.
Once you are able to add value, something magical happens. Your prospect trusts you. Now you’ve earned the right to ask them for their time if they haven’t already come to you.
Think outside the box
If you want to get noticed amidst all the noise, you can’t be like everyone else. Stand out from the pack and ditch the cheesy “did you get eaten” emails. Be genuine and think outside the box. A handwritten note introducing yourself or after a good conversation has a lot more impact than a generic email. Don’t forget about good ol’ fashion Fed Ex…living in an age where everything has become so instantaneous, sending some creative or interactive collateral will capture your prospect’s attention and next time you call – they’ll remember you and want to take your call. Headed to a conference? Take advantage of the face time with prospects that will be attending and invite them to dinner, sports or entertainment event.
Most importantly, don’t panic if you don’t have the most dials that day. Have patience! Keep focused on adding value and building relationships with your prospects… and watch your response rate and success rate skyrocket.