Not Enough First Appointments? Combine Strong Selling With Content Marketing
For most small- and medium-sized B2B companies, word of mouth is key to new opportunity. Our good reputation precedes us. We depend on introductions to build our network, our pipeline and our sales. We network, attend appropriate trade shows and seminars, and “build relationships.”
But do we ask? Are we proactive or reactive, waiting for those organic behind-the-scene introductions?
Too many salespeople are social sellers in the sense they want people to like them. Business sellers want to earn the right to profitable business.
We need a combination of both business and social selling. When social selling predominates, we don’t sell, we don’t close, we don’t secure introductions. We form social relationships. (Note: One of the best ways to encourage a buyer to like us is to reduce our prices.)
Too many salespeople don’t ask existing, delighted customers for more introductions. Imagine if each salesperson with a book of business brought in one introduction a week, or even one a month.
This is a critical check-in point. Are you maximizing your best selling asset? Often, salespeople treat customers as “private property,” saying: “I don’t want to take a chance with ‘my customer.'” They see it as risky to both ask for introductions and ask the right way. So, a network remains untapped. As opposed to accepting this as standard operating procedure, it seems like a hanging offense.
And even if we do ask, we face a danger: Our network dissolves over time. I know two business owners who lost their B2B business because their networks went away. Key customers and contacts aged and retired; entropy set in. These owners didn’t develop enough new productive nodes in their network.
Effective marketing can fill this gap, opening new customers and developing new network nodes. Yet, SMBs that sell B2B have limited marketing budgets and even less tolerance for spending that doesn’t have an ROI.
Many of us embrace content marketing, providing knowledge to improve prospects’ well-being and demonstrate our expertise and mastery. Unfortunately, all too many content readers are content consumers only. They don’t want to be prospects, they don’t want to be sold to. They appreciate your agreeing to be an “unpaid consultant.”
You know they are content consumers from your e-letter metrics. The “heavy users” might have 10, 20 to 30 or more opens. Yet they never call you and they never respond to outreach when you turn them over to salespeople as prospects.
It can be frustrating.
Here’s a relatively low-cost technique, which generates incredible results: Send a hand-written note. Select prospects you want to sell to who are heavy users of your email content and worth your effort. Then craft laser-focused, short, hand-written notes. Send three a day by FedEx. Tell the prospect who you are and what problem/challenge you can help them solve.
The combination of the formal FedEx letter and personal hand-written note creates a breakthrough. It is disarming. Prospects actually call you. They know who you are from your content marketing. The note is like a spark; the resulting fire is an appointment.
Be prepared to send up to 10 notes like these to a key prospect. It won’t work every time, but the results are amazing with first meetings. They can even include meetings with Fortune 500 companies.
It is the unique mixture of formal and informal, expertise and bedside manner, social selling and business selling, that delivers the result.
Article written by: Andy Gole0