When All Else Fails, Be Human
I had stopped by, called, emailed, connected on LinkedIn……. AND sent multiple messages. I was following up and offering what I felt was a compelling reason to meet. Why wasn't he meeting with me???
The organization was a private art college located in New York City, it also happens to be one of the top design schools in the world. For a few reasons, I had a particular affinity to working with them, and the person I needed to meet with was the SVP/CIO-- not necessarily an easy person to set a meeting with. He had responded that he was busy, that he had presentations coming up, but to follow up at a later date. As he kept pushing me off, he revealed to me that not only had I not piqued his interest, but more importantly, I hadn't become human to him. There were probably at least 50 other sales reps reaching out to him weekly, maybe more.
My boss at the time really emphasized the importance of thinking outside of the box by creating nostalgia, and in following his advice I mailed to the SVP (I’ll call him Mr. A) a thoughtful, handwritten note. I still had to shoot a "Happy Thanksgiving A" LinkedIn message to trigger a response, but after months of calling on Mr. A, I finally see this in my inbox:
I got the card you sent. Could we meet next week? There is an opportunity at our school for your help.
I will have my assistant reach out to schedule a time.
Wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Throughout my career in sales, I've been given a ton of advice, both solicited and unsolicited. I've read the top books, had world-class training from Fortune 500 companies- you name it. Some of it worked for me, some of it didn't, some of it I probably didn't even give enough time to see if it worked. Now that I am a sales trainer nationally for a Fortune 500 company, I've found that as long as you have a proper selling structure internalized, you will become successful when you become human to your prospective client, all the while following said-structure.
If you have a solid understanding of Professional Sales Skills 101 (meaning you know how to create genuine professional rapport that will lead you into the qualifying stage) but you just can't get anyone to meet with you to show-off those skills, you might be missing the human aspect. When I was reaching out to Mr. A, I was saying the "right" things as far as what I've learned through my experience and training. What I wasn't communicating is that I am just a person, seeking to understand if there is a mutually beneficial opportunity for us to work together. I needed to translate that in some way.
How do we get to that point?
By doing what other sales professionals aren't doing. Handwritten notes. Sending a link to a prospect that you think might be interesting to them, without asking them for anything in return. Additionally, you become human by having the confidence to say to a prospect after two or three objections, "Ms. Client, I understand what you are saying. With that being said, my job is to meet with every business in my area to explore possible opportunities for a mutually beneficial partnership. From one professional to another, what could it hurt to meet, even if it's just to network? Best case we will discover an opportunity to work together, worst case, we will just share ideas. Let's get something on the calendar for early next week!"
Sending a personalized handwritten note, messaging a link to your client that they can relate to, and speaking confidently and candidly with your customer after a few rejections are just a few examples. There are unlimited ways to get creative with this, and you'll start to see positive results.
What is a strategy that you used personally in order to become "human" to a prospective client in order to move forward in the process?
Do you write handwritten notes to prospective clients?
© 2018 Megan Metcalf