What are you doing with those prospects that are in your database that aren’t ready to purchase yet? Are you in the process of establishing trust and good will—or are
you demonstrating that you aren’t trustworthy or that you really don’t have anything of value to offer?
Whether you’ve considered it or not, everything you send to a prospect communicates your value—or non-value, and your trustworthiness. Everything you send. No matter how small.
Most salespeople, professionals and companies will put their long-term prospects into a database and keep in touch with them on a semi-regular basis. They’ll send a monthly or quarterly newsletter, a “how ya doin, ya ready to buy yet?” email or letter on occasion, and make a phone call once in a blue moon. Some will inundate the prospect with so much junk mail and junk email that the prospect wonders how to get rid of them.
Either way, the prospect is learning about the salesperson or company. The question is what are they learning?
Let’s look at the three most common negative messages prospects get from salesperson and company communications:
You Aren’t Reliable:
Reliability is a major trust factor and what you send and when you send materials to your prospects will communicate to some extent whether or not you are reliable. If you promise to send information, do you send exactly what you promised when you promised? If not, why should a prospect trust you?
Do you send a monthly or quarterly newsletter? Is it on time, every time? If the date on your newsletter is May and it arrives in June because you were too busy to get it out, what message does that send? Think people won’t notice? I received the Jan/Feb newsletter from an interior decorator—last week (the week of April 1). Is that how she handles all of her commitments?
You Don’t Value My Time
Are the items you send of real value to the prospect? If it isn’t of value, why do you send it?
What people will send is just amazing. I get newsletters with recipes, gardening tips, and other information that might be appropriate for some salespeople, but not from the people who are sending it. Recipes, gardening tips, household tips, etc. might be appropriate in a REALTOR’S newsletter, but not an accountant’s, or financial planners, or insurance agents, or auto repair shop. If I get something from an accountant, I expect it to have some relevance to my financial needs. If I get something from a auto repair shop, I expect it have something to do with automobiles. I don’t expect an attorney to send me an article on how to give a massage (yep, got one).
What can you send of value? There is a ton of stuff. Articles relating to the area you address; special offers; new services and/or products; major company news; and other pertinent information. All of these items are likely to be of interest to a majority of your prospects.
The key is to not waste your prospect’s time. Of course, not everything you send is going to be of interest to every one of your prospects. But if your information is good, all of your prospects will find value in your communications—just not every prospect for every communication. I get a number of emails after each newsletter. Many praise a particular issue, others are indifferent. But some of those who were indifferent to one issue may email me an issue or two later raving about the latest issue while the one who was enthused about the first issue emails me to let me know I missed the mark with them on the last issue. I, like you, have to aim to bring lots of great material to the table, knowing that each reader is at a different place in their careers. What appeals to one, may not appeal to another. But if I bring enough diversity to the newsletter, I can hit everyone’s needs, just not in every issue. You must aim for the same goal—bring substance to the table, and overtime, you’ll feed the lot.
But if you fail to bring substance, you’re prospect begins to feel that all you’re really doing is wasting their time—that you don’t value their time. Consequently, they don’t need you or have time for you.
You Don’t Know Your Business
Sending out-dated or erroneous information also will be noticed by many prospects. If you fail to review and carefully examine your information to make sure that it is up-to-date and accurate, you run a serious risk of convincing your prospect that you simply don’t know what you’re talking about.
The articles you run, whether written by you or others, must contain current, accurate and trustworthy information. Never assume that yours is the only information the prospect is receiving about your subject. Your object is to inform, not confuse. Your goal is to impress, not show your ignorance or laziness. Errors are especially easy to miss when dealing with statistics and factual matters of record.
This isn’t to say that you can’t send items that may challenge conventional wisdom. You certainly can—and if you can back your information up, these may be your most potent communications. For instance, I work obviously in the areas of sales and sales management. Most salespeople and managers know there are a great variety of training methods and theories. Controversy and going against convention isn’t an issue in this industry. As a matter of fact, many are well aware that many conventional ways of doing things simply don’t work that well. Consequently, going against convention and finding better ways is welcomed.
But in other industries, for example, many sectors of the financial services industry, bucking convention many not only raise many eyebrows, but your very competence may be questioned if your ideas are not well documented by independent sources. Does this mean that you can’t present non-traditional ideas in these industries? No. It simply means that you must go out of your way to document their validity because you know upfront that you’re dealing with a subject where innovation is going to be questioned—not just by peers, but by many prospects also.
In addition to sloppy work, overstatements and exaggerations are another red flag for prospects. It is perfectly permissible to make strong statements about your products and services as long as you are not the author of those statements and you can identify for your prospects exactly who made the claims about your product or service.
Again, an example from my work. I have no problems using quotes from others about my book. Frank Rumbauskas, a world renowned sales trainer calls the book “hands down the best book on referrals there is.” Stu Taylor, the award winning, nationally syndicated host of the Equity Strategies radio program says it is “a career changing book.” David Straker of ChangingMinds says what “earns this book a rare five stars is the practical, thorough and innovative treatment of referrals that can have literally massive benefit to anyone, not just in sales.” And Dave Lakhani says the book “lays out in systematic detail the most effective selling and referral system I've seen. It doesn't make getting referrals easy but it does make getting them predictable.”
I use the quotes throughout my marketing materials for the book and I can get away with it because these are not my claims. They are statements by others who are identified by name. They can be verified. I’m neither making the claims up nor am I attributing them to some unidentified person either by not giving a name or using the old “Joe B.” technique. I’m putting full disclosure as to who made the statement. I could have just as easily used quotes from SellingPower, CRM Magazine, Joe Vitale, Dave Anderson, Wendy Weiss and many others—and I do.
If you use superlatives, they cannot be from you and you must fully identify the person who made them—meaning they can be checked out. Even though all of the people and publications I cited above are well know throughout the sales industry, the same goes for everyday customers—you must give full disclosure to gain the credibility you are seeking—or, if you don’t, you run a real risk of appearing to be just giving hype. If you make the superlative yourself, you lose credibility. If you attribute the superlative to someone who is not fully identified, you lose credibility. If you use an authority in the particular field and give full identification, you gain credibility. If you use an everyday customer with full disclosure, you gain credibility.
Examine your prospect communications in light of these three most common mistakes. Don’t allow yourself to lose credibility while trying to build credibility. What you send is just as important as what you say.