Sales Pro, Are You Stuck on the 'Safe-to-Ignore' List?
You reach out to a potential buyer. Nothing happens, so you reach out again. And maybe again. But then you start to feel discouraged. Or you get busy. Or you see another shiny lead that looks promising. Your contact attempts taper off, then stop.
A few months pass. Either inspiration or desperation strikes. And you reach out again.
I see this cycle again and again in the market. Salespeople engage in sporadic and random outreaches. Potential buyers ignore the salespeople. Salespeople complain about being ignored but keep doing the same thing.
It’s time to break the cycle. If you are in sales, getting ignored, and are willing to do something to change the outcome, here are the areas to consider.
Are you going after the right contact? Frankly, it is hard to tell today, so I recommend looking for multiple contacts at an account.
Are you touching people often enough? Infrequent contact is a recipe for failure. To win, you need enough buyer mindshare to be considered as a possible vendor. To achieve and maintain that level of mindshare, you must touch leads at least three times a month.
Breaking through the buyer’s protective bubble takes a lot of hammering. Let’s look at a typical scenario. You send an email. The buyer skims it and hits delete. You send another email. The buyer skims it again. This cycle repeats itself. At some point — usually somewhere between email five to nine, exposure works in your favor, and the buyer recognizes your name and company logo. Congratulations! Most salespeople quit before this point.
Generalities get ignored. Telling buyers who you are and about your company doesn’t work — unless the buyer woke up needing to find a print or promo distributor. Being specific about the problems you solve adds critical relevance to communications. Relevance snags a buyer’s attention and is more likely to motivate them to respond to your meeting request.
Novelty sets you apart. Buyers get loads of emails. To stand out, mail, call, or add social selling to your outbound efforts. Be different and interesting!
Commit and be consistent. It takes effort to work leads. Focused action is more likely to pay off than an occasional sporadic attempt to get meetings. Decide how many leads you can actively work. Commit to working on your leads for the next six months. Put in effort — at least three touches a month, and then assess.
So, what’s the bottom line? Buyers get lots of communications from salespeople. Whenever they see one from you, they ask, “Why should I bother?”
If you want to be a best-in-class business developer, you must be prepared to do more and do better to get the buyer’s attention. Otherwise, you end up on the safe-to-ignore list.
Last thoughts ... Don't just be another name in the buyer’s inbox; be the reason they engage. Rise above the noise, elevate your game, and quit being ignored.
Linda Bishop is the founder and president of Thought Transformation, a national sales and marketing consulting group helping printers and other companies achieve top-line growth through a combination of strategies, tools, training and tactics.
Her expertise includes all aspects of outbound selling and account acquisition, account retention and development, solution selling, marketing, and aligning sales processes with marketing strategies.
Before starting Thought Transformation in 2004, Linda sold commercial printing for seventeen years, working as a commission salesperson for the Atlanta division of RR Donnelley Company. She was one of the top performers in the Atlanta marketplace and had annual sales exceeding $9 million.
Linda has a BS degree in accounting from Purdue University and an MBA in marketing from Georgia State. She has written several books on sales topics, speaks nationally on sales, marketing and customer service, and has published many articles.