Sales professionals, marketers, and business owners rely on email and LinkedIn cold messaging more than ever, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The business world has grown more accustomed to communicating through these channels, and professionals are increasingly using them to grow and communicate with their networks. This doesn’t mean that everyone is using these platforms with equal success, though.
Some professionals turn prospect after prospect into paying customers with emails and LinkedIn messages, while others barely receive any responses at all. The difference is in the approach.
In this blog, you’ll learn how to create and send B2B messages that actually start conversations. You’ll also learn how to keep the conversation going to lead to the sale
How To Do It?
Get to know your prospect’s LinkedIn and other business profiles
When you have a product or service to sell, it’s tempting to contact your prospects right away to tell them about your fantastic offer. After all, the faster they hear about your amazing product or service, the faster your sales and income will pile up, right? Not at all.
In fact, 79% of decision-makers won’t engage with a salesperson who does not take the time to learn about them and their companies first.
That means that if you contact them without learning about them first, there’s almost a 4 out of 5 chance they’ll ignore you.
They’re correct to do so, given the wealth of information that’s right under salespeople’s noses. In less than five minutes, you can review the prospect’s title, profile summary, professional experience, business and organizational affiliations, achievements, recommendations, and much more.
The time you spend reviewing this information could be the best time you spend as a sales professional, because it gives you the opportunity to stand out from the crowd of other marketers and salespeople clamoring for your prospects’ attention.
If a prospect’s LinkedIn profile provides links to external resources, such as company websites, corporate bios, or other social media accounts, be sure to review those resources as well. In many cases, you’ll learn interesting and useful facts about your prospect that can prove useful in later conversations.
Reference something you’ve learned about them or their business in your first message
The point of all of the research is to dig deeper than competitors, so that you can show prospects you actually understand them. More than half of decision-makers stated that they were likely to consider an offer if the sales professional correctly understood them.
The easiest way to show understanding is to relate your opening conversation to something unique you found in your research.
Unfortunately, many people who try to do this don’t put much effort into making that reference meaningful. They’ll open with something like:
“I see that you are in the business of manufacturing skateboards.”
Restating obvious information isn’t going to get responses or win customers. In fact, a low-effort observation is more likely to brand you as a “spammer,” virtually eliminating the possibility of capturing a prospect’s attention in the future
Instead, dig a bit deeper and create a connection with something that’s not quite as obvious. For example, you might discover that your prospect is an avid cyclist, or that their team helped build housing for the homeless last year.
Then, add your own insights, experiences, or appreciation. For example:
“I noticed in your profile that you’re an avid cyclist. What’s the most scenic journey you’ve taken?”
“I found a news article about your team’s role in the Houses for People project. What an incredible display of support to your community. How many families were you able to help?”
Be honest and authentic in your communications
Not too many decades ago, marketers and sales professionals were taught to assume the position of “heroes,” delivering their prospects from pain to delight. They sought to “wow” prospects with huge promises and overblown benefits, promising that their products and services couldn’t possibly be matched by the competition.
Today’s consumers – including B2B buyers – aren’t interested in grandiose claims or other forms of sales puffery, though. Instead they want to do business with those with whom they feel a genuine connection.
That’s why it’s important to present yourself in an engaging, friendly manner in your emails and LinkedIn communications. You don’t want to address business prospects the same way frat brothers would greet each other at a college frat house, but you do want to create a level of comfort that opens prospects to later sales conversations
Your prospect should feel like the message is coming from a trusted advisor, not a salesperson.
Trust is an often overlooked but critical piece of the sales puzzle. In fact, 35% of decision makers say that the trustworthiness of the seller is more important than the return on investment (ROI) the purchase could provide, and even more than the price of the purchase.
Make it easy for prospects to learn about you and your company
In a perfect world, if you offered a “perfect fit” product or service to a B2B client, and the prospect understood the benefits, that would be enough to close the deal.
Even the world’s best sales presentation, though, won’t stop prospects from doing their research on you before they commit to purchases.
Decision-makers want to know more about you and your company. They’ll visit your LinkedIn personal and company profile pages. They’ll follow links to visit your website, check out your podcast interviews, and discover the books, blog posts, and other content you and your company’s other leaders write.
If they find a hastily launched LinkedIn profile with no information and a profile pic that looks like it came out of a high school yearbook, they’re not likely to take you seriously. Of course, that means that they most likely will not do business with you.
Your LinkedIn profile, website, and other resources represent opportunities to craft your story the way you want to present it to potential buyers.
By filling it with accurate, current, helpful information, you can help increase trust before you and your prospect ever have your first conversation.
Invite conversation with your prospective buyers
As shown in examples earlier in this blog, initial communications should focus on creating conversations with buyers. This means getting them to talk about themselves, rather than focusing the conversation right away on what your offer can do for them.
Use what you learn about your prospect to ask strategic questions. Ideally, this means fewer “closed” questions – those that can be answered with “yes,” “no,” or a similar short answer.
Instead, focus on “open questions” that invite the prospect not only to answer the message, but to freely share their thoughts, opinions, insights, and frustrations.
“What do you think about….” is a powerful way to begin a strategic question, because it immediately places a high value on what the prospect values most – their opinion. No matter how fair and balanced people perceive themselves to be, their own opinions are always “center stage” in their minds.
Exploratory conversations can quickly lead to one-on-one meetings. It’s important to keep these meetings about getting to know each other. If the prospect asks about your offer, products, etc., then share as much as they want to know. Otherwise, keep the conversation away from selling your product.
Keep it short
Less than 25% of sales emails ever get opened, because recipients fear they’re in for a long-winded sales pitch. If you want to get your emails opened and read, the ideal length is between 50 and 125 words.
If you maintain this length, recipients will be much more likely to open your emails. They know that you’ll get straight to the point without wasting their time, so they’re more willing to trust you with their attention.
Ask, but don’t sell
Every email and LinkedIn message you send should have an “ask” – that is, a prompt for the recipient to take a certain action.
This doesn’t mean that you should ask the recipient to buy a product or schedule a demo right away.
Instead, think “micro-commitment.” It might not be the right time to ask for the same, but it could be the perfect time to ask them to check out a short video, answer a question, share an insight, follow a social media account, or something similar.
“Micro-commitments” are low-resistance because they don’t require much thought or effort – you can compel people to reflexively follow these suggestions simply by asking.
Gaining a micro-commitment is the first step to welcoming the person as a long-term, loyal customer. Once they’ve agreed to a small commitment, they’ll be more likely to agree to increasingly bigger commitments. Eventually, these can include purchase commitments.
Again, it’s important not to sell during this phase of the conversation. Your prospective customers and clients will let you know when they are ready to move to this phase.