The Importance of Targeted Messaging & Setting Expectations
I think we can all agree that getting decision makers on the phone these days has never been more challenging. We call them early, we call them late, and we call them at lunch and everywhere in between. Still no luck. Prospecting and especially cold calling is a real challenge!
IT executives are busier than ever running from one meeting to next and putting out fires along the way. They never seem to be in their office and when they are, the last thing they have time for is an unsolicited sales call. That being said, our introduction including our messaging has never been more important. If we don’t make the most of that initial introduction the prospect will blow us off and avoid taking our calls in the future.
Below I highlight a couple of the common mistakes IT staffing sales professionals in their introductory messaging. Second, I share with you the importance of targeted messaging and setting expectations when making introductory sales calls or cold calls, keys to improving cold calling results, improving productivity of initial sales calls.
The Importance of Targeted Messaging
First, let’s start with the basics. Your messaging has to be spot on and laser focused to the persona of the buyer you're calling on including the industry they work in. For example, let’s assume that you sell to the Director of Application Development and the Manager of Cloud Computing. To attract and appeal to each of these two very different buyer persona types you would want to segment your messaging. In other words, to create a valuable and memorable experience for each of the two prospects, you would need to create two separate messages because the Director of Application is not interested in discussing the same things as the Manager of Cloud Computing.
If you call either the Director of Application Development or the Manager of Cloud Computing and you introduce yourself as an IT generalist and/or fail to articulate your relevance and experience in either Application Development or Cloud Computing, they're also going to blow you off. Why? Today's buyers (IT hiring managers) want and expect to work with specialists. Even if your IT staffing firm doesn't have a specialized niche, you need to use targeted messaging so they believe you do.
After completing you sales call plan, you should know something about their role and responsibility and what their company does in which you can reference to demonstrate credibility. You should also be able to reference something relevant about their company, team, project or department by leveraging sales triggers.
Your messaging has to be so tight and on point that the prospect doesn’t have to think think twice about the “why” of your call. Your message must be tied to what they do and what they are responsible for. If after introducing yourself they ask you "what do you do?" or, "how can you help me?" than you know your messaging needs to be tightened up.
Setting Expectations of Your Initial Introductory Call
Second, assuming we have a tight message and the prospect understands the relevance of our call, we now have to state the purpose of the call or the call objective (Don’t make a sales call until you know exactly what your goal of the call is). This is where most sales calls go down hill real fast.
Typical Sales Call
Many salespeople say some variation of the following:
- “So Mr. Prospect, the reason I’m calling today is to see if we can strike up a relationship”
- "I'm calling to learn about your needs"
- "I want to learn about your business"
- "I'm calling to schedule an appointment with you"
There are plenty of other variations but the point is, salespeople are often asking for something far too general or they're vague in what they want or are asking for. When this happens the call breaks down because the buyer is not clear on what the seller wants.
Remember, this is our initial call to the prospect and it was not scheduled from a prior call or email exchange. We need to be on point and understand that our prospect is only going to give us a few minutes. What I often see happen at this stage of the call is the prospect starts asking questions of the salesperson about his/her company and service offerings. Why do prospects ask these questions? Because the salesperson has not clearly articulated the goal or purpose of the call, nor did they have a tight message. The prospect is still struggling to see the connection.
In this scenario, the prospect is left qualify the salesperson. It should be the other way around. Naturally, the sales person responds accordingly by answering the prospect’s questions. But what has just happened? The prospect has just taken control of the call because they are the one now asking the questions.
The call is ends before the sales person even realizes what happened. Does this sound familiar? To avoid this, try following this basic framework for running any type of sales call (or meeting for that matter)
- Purpose of the call: What is the purpose of the call? What are we talking about and why? Make sure it is clear.
- Time: How much time is this expected to take? Make sure the prospect knows how much of their time you are asking for.
- Setting & Managing Expectations: What do you expect from the prospect during this interaction (what information are you asking of them) and what should they expect from you in return? Do they need to do anything in advance to prepare for this call? If so you need to let them know.
- Conclusion/Next Step: What will happen at the conclusion of this conversation? Make sure you explain to the prospect upfront what the possible outcomes of the call will be including any potential action items.
When you set these expectations upfront with your prospects you will find that selling and having meaningful dialogue with prospects on cold calls can be so much easier and productive. This sounds simple enough yet it is surprising how often sales people forget the little things. If you follow this guideline I assure you that you will find your sales calls to much more productive and your customers will appreciate it.
About Dan Fisher
Dan Fisher is founder and owner of Menemsha Group, a provider of sales enablement solutions dedicated to helping IT staffing firms improve win rates, shorten their sales cycle, and increase revenue per sales rep. Since launching Menemsha Group in 2008, Dan has consulted with over 200 IT staffing firms and has invested over 5000 hours coaching IT staffing sales reps. He’s authored is his own proprietary sales methodology and has previously spoken at Staffing World, TechServe Alliance and Bullhorn Live 2012. Prior to launching Menemsha Group, Dan spent 16 years in the IT industry running local, regional and national sales teams. Dan worked for Kelly Services, Oracle Corporation and Alliance Consulting. Dan currently resides in Boston, Ma.