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Many B2B companies have created digitally enabled sales organizations, processes, and systems. Their goal is to remain competitive by building multichannel interactions with customers across email, mobile, and social. Simply taking a digital approach, however, is not enough. Even well-designed sales processes can be undermined by the sales team's mentality and tactics, especially if sales reps cling to old prospecting techniques that leave buyers feeling peeved.

The majority of buyers find that gathering information on their own is superior to interacting with a sales rep. Ouch! In part, that’s because buyers are tired of receiving sales spam, communications that pretend to be relevant and personal, but are self-serving and impersonal. You know the type of email and InMail and tweet. You receive them every day.

To gain your buyer's trust, reps need to take a leap of faith and stop communicating like it's the 1990s. Let's take a look at how to send better sales messages.

What Not to Do: Blast Mistakes and Self-Interest

To better communicate with customers, you have to understand what irks them. That's why we're providing you with examples of what sales reps shouldn't do:

Emails that are overtly copied and pasted

We always get a kick out of these emails. Internally, one of our favorites is a series of emails addressed to “Bruce.” The recipient was Kim Babcock.

Emails that are about the sales rep

“I’ve been trying to get ahold of you.” “I hope that you’re not annoyed with my professional persistence.”

Some emails mask as buyer-centric emails, but really, they are just good old-fashioned guilt trips. "You must not like a good deal, huh? Is that why you're not returning my calls?" That has guilt trip written all over it.

Generic, templated InMails that sound personal, but clearly aren’t

“I reviewed your profile and was impressed by your experience in the high tech marketing space.”

How original! *Sarcasm light is on* Clearly, you’re sending the same message to anyone who is at the director level or above and works in technology marketing.

What to Do Instead: Use Account-Based Tactics

Every message needs to focus on the prospect – not you. You need to answer the question: Why should this individual prospect drop everything and speak with me?

To answer that question, you need to do research on your buyer. Great sales messages show a deep understanding of who the individual buyer is and what they care about. Before you send any sales communication, try to identify two or three key findings that you can mention and tie your value proposition to. Yes, that will take some research, but it will pay off in the end.

Here's another way to think about it:

Offer:

  • Helpful tips and tricks about best practices 

  • Disruptive insight into key issues that a company or an industry faces

  • A look at how similar companies have addressed the same problem

  • Expert views on trends and futures (e.g. analyst reports)

Marketers have learned how to create and curate content that add value, rather than annoy, buyers. And believe it or not, content assets work just as well in a sales context. To learn more about how content can help, check out 6 Ways Content Can Transform Your Sales Reps.

Quiz: Good Prospecting or Bad Prospecting

You've read the basic tenets. Now, it's time to test your knowledge by taking a quick quiz. Read the subject lines, introductions, and calls to action. Then, determine whether they are good examples or bad examples of prospecting. Good luck!

Bottom Line: Embrace the Individual Customer

To fully embrace social selling and digital sales requires companies to adopt new attitudes and new ways of working. Sales reps must come to terms with the fact that they are no longer the gatekeepers of information. With buyers taking the lead in the buyer-seller relationship, sales reps are now in the service industry, insofar as they must serve their customers. If they don't, their sales messages will be deleted or wind up in the spam bin.

Additional Resources to Help You:

Posted by Mark Bajus

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