A quick Google search reveals that we are exposed to around 5,000 ad messages per day.
To add some context around this, exposure to advertising in the 1970’s was around 600 per day! And in a B2B environment, 90% of customers are starting their search online, where they review an average, 12 sites in doing their own research.
Today’s cluttered communications environment has the effect of making it harder than ever to cut through the noise and get your prospect’s attention and engagement. In fact, your prospect is probably actively avoiding ads and unwanted messages. So, when you manage to gain their attention, you really only have a few seconds to gain their interest enough to get a follow-up conversation.
Given this, what are the best approaches to cut through this noise and connect with your prospects in the journey to become leads and customers.
7 steps to better connecting with prospects by cutting through the noise.
1. Make it personal
We live in a world where individualisation matters. Just think about those emails you receive that you know have been sent to another 200 contacts. People are savvy to mass emails. The good news is that a little personalisation can go a long way. The same goes for cold calls.
The key to personalisation is doing your research before reaching out to contacts. Generating some useful insights will not only enable you to better understand their needs, but the prospect will see more value in talking with you.
Research is not all facts and figures. You should tailor your message to the prospect and illustrate why you are qualified to help them. Use your value proposition to validate yourself and seek ways to show that you are credible and they can trust you. One approach is to find common points of interest or common connections that you both know. Then, using your research insights focus on communicating value by addressing a pain they’ve likely experienced and how you can resolve that for them.
Another, relatively new approach is a personal video. There’s nothing quite like receiving a message in your inbox that someone took time out of their day to create just for you in a medium that not many are using for outreach.
With crowded inboxes and over communication, a personal video message can be an amazing way to cut through the noise. Use a whiteboard with your prospect’s name or company on it or some other way to personalise the video. Then embed a personalised video thumbnail in your email. Personalised video, is currently exhibiting 5x higher click-through rates and 8x higher response rates. It’s worth a try!
Check out this example from Gordon, below:
Listening is perhaps the easiest skill to master. You simply shut your mouth and open up your mind to what you are hearing. In practice, most people struggle to listen and they find it very difficult to bring an open mindset. Listening starts with respect. Trying to understand a prospect’s objections to your call - perhaps they’re telling the truth or maybe they aren’t, however you are the sales person not a judge. Outstanding salespeople know they should never ignore their prospect’s feelings, and this is true from the very first call to the on-boarding meeting.
It is easy to interpret silence on a call as a sign that it's not going well. When a lull occurs (and it will), don’t be tempted to rush in to fill it as you will be interrupting your prospect’s flow without even knowing it. Who knows, the prospect might have been about to say something but your silence filling monologue has cut them off. And while it's acceptable to interject when someone you know well is talking, interrupting a buyer you've never spoken with before creates a poor first impression.
3. Research, immerse yourself in their world
Prospects love hearing that you have gone out of your way to experience their brand. It is essential for gathering pertinent information and identifying hot buttons you can build rapport with on the first call or email.
For example, if I was approaching a kitchen making company, I would visit the local showroom, talk to the designers and sales team about their issues, review their displays, understand who they are targeting and review their approach to advertising and promotion. I would also extensively review their website and their competitors and search for reviews and social commentary about their service.
This research and immersion phase will allow you to create and share content that’s helpful and relevant to your prospect. This is a great way to show them that you’re relevant to them and builds towards your goal of being a trusted advisor to them.
4. Provide value before you extract value
No one likes to be sold to, but they do like to buy! Selling too hard when prospects are in the research stage of the buying cycle will switch them off quickly. In the world we live in today, prospects are empowered to investigate and research products and services themselves and engage a sales rep only when they are ready.
Our role in the prospecting phase is to nurture customers by responding with relevant and engaging content suitable to the stage of the buying cycle they are in. Using marketing automation to track and adjust campaigns in response to customers actions is a great way to provide customised value.
There’s a lot of rhetoric around customer centricity these days, and success prospecting requires you to truly focus on the customer needs and situation. So, if your opening line to a prospect is, "Hi, I'm [name], I'm a salesperson with [Company name], and I'd like to talk to you about [benefit]," then you are missing the point of connecting with a prospective customer.
So, ditch the I’s and embrace the ‘you attitude’…it’s about them! And while you are at it try and be charming and curious – remember flattery gets you everywhere!
5. Be in your prospect’s world
Simple things like knowing the right times to contact leads can increase your ability to cut through with prospects. For instance, Wednesday and Thursday’s are the best days of the week to make contact with a lead, while 4-6pm is the best time to call.
Of course, connecting with your prospects on LinkedIn is ideal, however again remember not to just go straight in for the hard sell without expecting to be ignored. Build a rapport with a nice share of relevant content and don’t forget to comment on their posts, or congratulate them on a career move. These actions are all part of the process that lead to a personal connection, beginning a professional relationship, and hopefully a closed deal.
6. Don’t over complicate
In this content driven world brevity can often be in short supply. Prospects can find the product information they need by doing their own research. However, they still need to engage and trust a supplier beyond their functional needs. Your sales story should be succinct and imbue confidence.
7. Make the emails and calls
Just do it!! We are living in an age where a direct conversation is confronting for many people. Don’t use digital communications as an excuse to hide behind your computer. Dealing with prospects via email, text and enquiry forms only is a sure way to commoditise and de personalise your value proposition - almost guaranteeing that your prospects first question will be, “how much does this cost.”
We all want to stay one step ahead right? By picking up the phone, you’ll be one step ahead because most people fear the phone as they don’t know what to say. Having a well-defined process for your sales prospecting calls can reduce this fear as you’ll know exactly what to say, and when to say it.
This process needs to cover your follow up. Remember you are not annoying the prospect! If you have researched their needs, your follow ups will be seen as enthusiasm and interest in helping their business. Again, your follow up pushes you ahead of the pack – most don’t do it with a process or at all!
Finally, getting cut through with a sales prospect can seem overwhelming given the over communicated and busy world we live in. And yet, armed with a process and a pinch of courage you can successfully cut through with prospects and grow your business.