Streetfighter Selling

for Sales Professionals

  • Nov

    Email, as we know it, will soon be obsolete, replaced by modes that are more dynamic. In the meantime, we rely on it. A lot. Just ask the U S Postal Service. But the speed and frequency of that use is costing a lot of people a lot of sales. The reason? Undue expectations and unintentional misuse.

    In recent months, I’ve compiled more than a dozen “do’s” and “donts” when it comes to email in sales.

    Here, for your consideration (and further business development) are the topics that fall into the assumption category: things we take for granted:

    #1: We ‘assume’ the customer demands it

    Especially with prospects we barely know, “just email it to me” is the phrase of the day. It’s also the equivalent of the famous line “send me something.” Translation: you’re not one of their vital concerns, and getting you to take a passive action, without their participation, is an easy, diplomatic way to express it. The bigger problem, though, is that we’ve come to convince ourselves that it means “I’m too busy and will not, under any circumstances under the sun, plan a face-to-face visit with you.”

    When told “just email it to me,” go ahead, but use it as leverage to get a more in-depth discussion, whether by phone or in-person. Agree, then ask questions (“Sure, I can do that, but let me ask you this….”) Clarify more about their needs/usage. Then, (assuming you’re in outside sales) go for a meeting. “…we have options that can make it more cost-effective.”

    Tip #1: suggesting a date/time that is several weeks out is more likely to get the green light than the immediate future.

    Tip #2: If you’re in telephone sales, go for planned telephone time. Emailing information or prices without doing a needs analysis is usually a waste of time.

    #2: Assume they’re reading your email message
    Congratulations on reading this article. It shows you’re a pro. But, if there weren’t money-making ideas here, you’d have hit the delete button 10 minutes ago. So will your prospect.

    Be relevant. When you do send basic information or (against my better judgment) unsolicited pricing), add some sizzle. Your subject line must imply ‘take a look at this…it can help!’ Sales expert, and author of SNAP Selling, Jill Konrath has some excellent advice in this article

    #3: Assume it’s a great primary new business tool
    The best prospects are the busiest prospects. They’re the people most likely to delete messages that aren’t of prime importance. And that includes you. If you’re counting on email to get their attention and make a great impression, you’re in trouble.

    Have a multi-pronged plan of attack. With the potential for rapid, and often dramatic turnover in customers, it takes a strategy of multiple prospecting streams to consistently create new sales.

    #4: Assume it can replace personal contact
    You can tell I’m a big fan of face-to-face sales, as this one is similar to my first point. I talk by email all the time, and it’ great. Like texting, it saves both parties a ton of time. Just remember…and this is huge….that is NOT always A GOOD THING.

    The average business email message gets banged out in less than a minute. Preschoolers can do it. Zap…click…boom….done. Who doesn’t like the idea of zapping off half a dozen ‘sales calls’ by email first thing in the morning. Makes anyone feel productive! But it can breed the habits of emailing instead of calling.

    For the casual comment or response to an inquiry (“how late are you open?”), you don’t need prose and poetry. But if you’re developing a sale, the time you time you put into it should be commensurate with the dollar amount of the sale.

    Once again, I’m all for using email. Love it! I’ll add any technology that helps me increase contacts or efficiency. But the one common thread in selling….the one that, with any sale that matters….is still human contact.

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