Are you on the “Do Not Call” list? You know, the list where you can opt out of telemarketing calls on your home phone. If you still have a home phone, odds are that you have opted out at some point. Why? Because you don't want to be bombarded by pushy telemarketers trying to sell you things you don't want.
Then why do we do the same thing to our prospects? The reality is that we don't tend to think of the prospect’s mindset as part of the sales equation. As salespeople and managers, we focus so much on activity volume and our own goals that we don't stop to think about how our approach is received. And so we often end up with sales activities and messaging that are at best ignored, many times irritate, and at worst completely turn off the prospect to the point where they won't even consider doing business with us.
It doesn't have to be this way. In fact, it shouldn't be this way. Before we perform any sales activity, we need to consider how our prospect might receive it. And to do that, we need to understand what their mindset (and ultimately their decision criteria) is when getting a voicemail, email, or any other type of message from a sales person. Here is likely what your prospect's are thinking:
Don't waste my time – Your generic voicemail and request for me to call you back for no reason does just that
I hate being interrupted - I'm pretty busy, so when you cold call me, sorry but I may not receive it that warmly
Acknowledge that I'm busy – This isn't a sign of weakness or opportunity for me to blow you off, but rather a nice gesture that most sales reps don't bother with
Don't try to trick me – Misleading email subject lines or vague voice mails may catch my attention, but they don’t endear me to you
Don't pressure me – This is why I am on the Do Not Call list at home. I don't like it any more at work
Respect my timeline, don't force me into yours - I'm sorry you are short of your quota this month, but that's not really my problem
I want to work with someone that is credible and trustworthy – How do I know if you are reputable when the first time I've ever heard of you is when you cold called me?
And someone I like – unlike other parts of my work, I have control over the vendors I work with, so I'd prefer to work with ones I actually enjoy being around
I need partners that help me solve problems – I don't need just more vendors to manage
I don't want to look bad by picking the wrong vendor – so the more you can convince me that you are a good bet, the more interested I'll be in talking with you
I need less work, not more – How are you going to make my job easier, not harder?
I don't have time to meet with every sales person that wants to meet with me (which is all of you) – Give me a reason to agree to spend time with you
Now some of these might sound harsh, but think about if you were in their shoes. You'd most likely have many if not all of the same thoughts. So how do we adjust our approach to better align with the prospect’s mindset? First we need to be honest with ourselves and determine if we are guilty of some of these unwelcome behaviors. Then we modify our message so that it addresses what the prospect wants, and excludes what they don't.
My top recommendation is to not ever make a “cold” call. It's just too difficult to align with your prospect's mindset when their very first exposure to you and your company is an unanticipated interruption to their day. Don't misunderstand me; I'm not saying you don't make sales calls. What I'm saying is that you need to lay some groundwork before that first call. Emails, blogs, networking, and mailings are just a few ways to introduce yourself to a prospect and build credibility prior to the first call. Once you've established some brand awareness and perceived value, then the call isn't so much an imposition.
It's harder than ever today to get appointments. By understanding your prospect’s mindset and aligning your sales approach, you'll find more doors open for you.