The first part of the sales process is the most important. When you first approach a prospect, how do you create interest in the 10 short seconds before they lose interest?
The way in which you approach a prospect determines the rest of the sales process. If you set a strong “hook” and create interest right away, your job as a salesperson will be much easier. The prospect will be on your side, and all you need to do is answer their qualifying questions to give them confidence to sign the deal.
However, if your hook isn’t strong, the entire sales process will be an uphill battle. You’ll spend your time trying to convince the prospect that they need your product or service, and they’ll be looking for opportunities to say “no” and end the conversation.
Because of this, I put a lot of effort into identifying a strong opening message. To effectively create interest, your initial call or email needs to:
- Have a strong claim
- Be short (2 sentences or less)
- Gather more information
- Include a clear next step
Have a Strong Claim
A strong claim gives the prospect a reason to actually care. If your initial message doesn’t convey that you offer an important service, decision-makers will have a hard time paying attention.
One common mistake when creating a strong claim is using unrealistic-sounding round numbers. For example, “We helped a company increase its sales by 300%” is not an effective hook. It sounds lofty, but it doesn’t actually tell us anything about real results. What was the actual dollar value? A 300% lift could just mean an increase from $1 to $300.
Percentages are often gamed to make results sound much better than they are, and prospects, who are often skeptical to begin with, will see right through these antics. Using a round number also indicates that the result is likely completely made up anyway.
An effective claim will be compelling but also realistic. It should also give the prospect a very clear idea of what exactly you have accomplished. For example, “We helped an HVAC company generate an additional 319 leads last month, which turned into $22,412 in new projects.”
The biggest problem with grabbing attention on a cold call or email is that the prospect doesn’t know who you are and therefore has no real need to pay attention to your message. To combat this, you need to be extremely short in your messaging. This helps ensure that your message at least gets digested.
Many salespeople feel the need to explain every aspect of their service to cold prospects, which is a mistake. If you inundate your prospect with every last detail, they are much more likely to become overwhelmed and delete your message even if they could benefit from your offer.
It’s much better to just give the prospect one simple, compelling piece of information and let them ask for more info.
Gather More Information
The most effective cold interactions will work to gather or provide qualifying information rather than trying to force the next step in the sales process. Many salespeople jump immediately to asking for a phone call, which isn’t considered a best practice since prospects will often need more information before they are inclined to commit to a phone call.
Even when prospects commit to a phone call right off the bat, the no-show rate is much higher because they aren’t committed to being involved in your sales process.
Instead, it’s important to share information and qualify the prospect before asking for a phone call. It’s very easy to share information through your website, a landing page, or video — and you should take advantage of that.
Of course, if a prospect prefers to get on a phone call immediately, you should oblige. But it’s important not to disqualify prospects too early just because they weren’t immediately ready for a discovery call.
Include a Clear Next Step
After giving the prospect a reason to pay attention to your message, it’s important to establish what you want them to do. There are many examples of next steps: asking if they would like to view a case study, asking a qualifying question, or sending a video with more information.
Without establishing a clear next step, you risk a long, drawn out engagement that ultimately falls off or you let the prospect off the hook with an easy out that could have been avoided.