In 2007, the New York Times wrote: Anywhere the eye can see, it’s likely to see an ad.
“We never know where the consumer is going to be at any point in time, so we have to find a way to be everywhere,” ad executive Linda Kaplan Thaler told the Times. “Ubiquity is the new exclusivity.”
And that was over 10 years ago. Since then, our exposure to ads has likely increased ten-fold. From commercials, to print ads, to metro ads, to ads on our phones and computers, digital marketers estimate that Americans are exposed to around 4,000 to 10,000 ads every day.
This means the buyers you’re trying to target are being bombarded with marketing content all day long. So you have to find ways to stand out from the noise.
Catching buyers’ attention all comes down to one essential ingredient: value.
If you’re not sharing new insights or providing actually useful information, you’re not going to close the sale. Here’s why value is the name of the game for attracting the prospects your business needs:
Value is the key to building strong customer relationships.
Sales is all about building relationships. This means reaching out, actively listening, and responding with something of value.
But keep in mind, value means different things to different people. Some people want connection, some want information, and others just want to feel heard. Whether you’re communicating via phone, email, or on social media—pay attention to what potential clients are saying rather than just rattling off a sales pitch. When you listen, you’ll notice they provide little nuggets of information regarding their wants, needs, and general interests.
And when you follow-up with clients, try to piggyback off an earlier conversation. Maybe share a news article or blog post relevant to their industry. Or you can mention recent industry news and say you’re that you’re curious to catch up and hear their take.
Show that you’re knowledgeable, understand what they need, and that they can view you as a resource.
In my job as the sales director at a thought leadership agency, I get plenty of practice making meaningful connections with would-be clients. I was recently on a follow-up call looking to chat about next steps with a prospect. Throughout the first half of the conversation, I listened to his concerns, validated his perspective, and talked him through how I would handle the situation if I was on his marketing team (a role I’ve played a number of times). It clicked for him. We’ve now moved our starting timeline up.
When you pay attention to these clues, you can find out what value means to each particular client.
When you’re in sales, follow-up is key.
Whether you’re trying to land that first meeting, or looking to move your prospect down the pipeline, you can’t make one call and expect to win the business. Studies have shown that only about 2% of sales will close on the first interaction. One or two calls or emails won’t make the sale—80% of sales are made on the 5th through 12th attempt. This means you need to continually follow up with the prospect until they are open to buying.
If you’re worried about annoying your prospects or feeling like a stalker, here are some tips:
- Choose the right channel to reach out. There are pros and cons to various approaches. Email is visual, and gives potential customers some time to think through what you’re saying. But emails are also easy to lose in the fray of the thousands of emails business-people receive each day. A call can grab a prospect’s attention more quickly and immediately establish you as a human, versus a spam-bot. The best strategy often involves a combination of both.
- Communicate carefully. Whether you choose to reach out via email or phone, your message should be concise and attention-grabbing. Make sure to communicate why you’re contacting them specifically—make it personal—and why you’re contacting them now—make it urgent. Finally, you should ask for something you want that’s easy to complete, such as a short call at a scheduled time, or to be referred to a certain person at the company.
- Try a “break-up.”After the third attempt, you may want to consider a “break-up” email. This lets the prospect know that you’ve tried to get in touch with them, and you don’t want to bother them anymore. Ironically, this is the email that gets the highest response rate for many salespeople. This is because prospects often do want to talk to you—they were just busy when you first tried to reach them and assumed you would keep trying.
And if you don’t prevail, try not to take it personally. There are a number of reasons prospects don’t bite.
In the end, sales is largely a numbers game.
Use social media to show customers you care.
Social media isn’t just for ads—it’s also a great way to show your client you’re thinking of them.
Phone and email are often the default methods for connecting with new prospects—they’re direct, and they work. But social media helps you get in touch with prospects in a way that allows you to be persistent without crossing the line. Make sure to follow your prospect, their organization, and other relevant industry trends on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
That said, try not to go “like” happy.
If you just like everything they post, it doesn’t add any value. And it comes off as more annoying than thoughtful. Instead, comment or share relevant material when they post. Show that you’re paying attention, and thinking critically about your engagement. Regularly sharing insightful content is a useful way to position yourself as an expert on social channels. Focus on helping find solutions for people’s business problems or needs.
No matter what social network you prefer, make sure you’re using it to its full potential for generating new prospects, building relationships, and hopefully closing that next deal.
Whether your goal is to book a call, sign a contract, or to elicit an email response—always make your communication relevant to the prospect’s goals, expressed timeline, or industry. If you’ve done your part to add value all along the sales chain, odds are good you’ll get a response—and ultimately, win their business.