It's the beginning of 2013, and with it comes the traditional flurry of demand generation/business development/sales reps sending me emails on why I should buy their product/service. I can assure you: I really do read every one of the emails I receive, even the ones that end up getting trapped in my SPAM filter. I'm always fascinated to learn why a rep thinks I would be interested in purchasing their product and gauging how far off the mark they are. Yes, it's sadistic, these poor sales people are just trying to make a living; but if I were in the business of being nice I'd have become a pre-school teacher.
At the end of each email, after the salesperson has detailed all the boilerplate reasons why their product/service is awesome, many conclude with some variation of the following statement:
"If you are not the right person for me to be working with at your organization, please provide me with the contact information of the person who is."
Dear Sales Rep: We are not best friends - why would I give you that information? Why would I do all your prospecting work for you? With all the resources and tools at your fingertips, in this digital age, you can't figure out on your own that I am, or I am NOT, the right person?
Selling is hard, tireless work. It's distressing to see that something so easy and powerful to do is getting ignored. So here is my public service announcement for all you salespeople trying to get my (or your target buyer's) attention:
1. Do Your Research. If you are trying to sell IT software, don't reach out to the head of sales training. Or, learn about why the head of sales training would be interested in IT software, and approach your messaging from that angle. That's what LinkedIn is for. Or Twitter. Or Google. Yes it takes time and effort; but the payoff is much better than getting ignored and ridiculed in a blog post.
2. Personalize. Maybe you only have the head of sales training's contact information. That's okay! Using something like LinkedIn's TeamLink feature, you can see how you and your connections are related to that person, or how that person is connected to your target buyer. People buy from people, and they pay attention when a colleague's name is mentioned. Leverage that personalization to have your message resonate with the target buyer.
3. Don’t Sell; Teach. I don't care about your product. Telling me your product is wonderful won’t help me at this very moment. Provoke me into thinking differently. Tell me a story about how my world will be a better place if I consider partnering with you. Teach me something that I don't know, that your product immediately addresses. Make me go, "hmmm, that's interesting, tell me more!"
I guarantee that following these three simple rules will get me (or your target buyer) to respond to your email. What have YOU done that uniquely got you noticed with a buyer?