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Position Yourself as a Value Provider

How to Tune Your Messaging for Prospect Engagement

When a salesperson jumps into the lead relationship after marketing has nurtured them, it’s essential to do so in a context that matches the lead’s expectations. Depending on the amount of information the salesperson has available at the point of transition, the message they send can have a huge impact on how well they position themselves as a value provider.

Your prospective buyers experience information about your company’s offerings in a myriad of different ways. Depending on their priorities, messaging can miss completely leaving that lead to wonder what the heck happened and causing them to question whether they really want to work with a company who understands them one minute and acts like they’re a stranger the next.

Let’s consider an example.

Sara has been actively following a marketing campaign from your company about how to gain more efficiency in staff utilization. She’s read every white paper and web page that relates to increasing staff productivity, attended a webinar on the subject and requested a salesperson call her.

You get assigned Sara’s account. But, you have no idea that her express interest is increasing efficiency so you choose a pre-populated key value message that’s worked well in the past when you email her to set up a telephone meeting—the one that emphasizes reducing costs by cutting head count.

Sara doesn’t respond. In fact, when you try to call her to follow-up, her assistant insists she’s busy and dumps you directly into voicemail.

Both of you are now wondering what happened.

You think marketing got carried away and over scored Sara’s account, pushing her forward in the process when she wasn’t “hot” enough to move to sales activities. She thinks you’re uninterested and out of touch and can only shudder at the thought that once she becomes a customer her account will be handled in the same fashion. Sara also likely thinks that all you care about is the sale, which is a total disconnect from her previous dialog with your company.

The problem here is a failure to communicate.

You need to make sure that you get as much profile information about leads assigned to your queue as you can. If you step into the conversation with a relevant message that conveys a high level of understanding and attention to customer detail, Sara is likely to have an entirely different response to your message. You’ll have positioned yourself as a value provider focused on helping Sara solve a high-priority business issue.

Research by Huthwaite® in regards to prospecting showed 94% of buyers couldn’t remember a single prospector or message they had received during the last two years. This means that the more closely a salesperson ties their message to the marketing dialog the lead is accustomed to, and anticipating, the better outcome they can achieve. If your message is disconnected from their prior experience, it can be like pushing a rock uphill to get that opportunity back on track.

By the same token, make sure your outreach does not assume too much. As the shift from nurturing to sales activities takes place, you need to re-establish a comfort level with the lead. This means you need to enter the dialog at the same place they’re at in their buying cycle.

The following tips can help you do just that with the leads you receive from marketing:

  • Reference their implicit interest in a high-priority business issue
  • Offer something of value – article, success story, etc.
  • Do not pitch them
  • Do not mention your product
  • Give them a specific reason to respond to you – one that has value for them.
  • Be professional, but personable

It’s important that your communication be perceived as valuable by the lead. The entire sales process is now about the value buying from you can deliver. Let’s face it, if they wanted just the product, they can probably find one similar to yours somewhere else. Products are commodities.

Glen Petersen, in his book The Profit Maximization Paradox, says that 85% of the decision to buy is directly impacted by the interactions between salespeople and the customer. So once the transition to sales happens, the ball is almost entirely in your court. The relationship you establish will make or break the deal.

Let’s look at a real message I received after exploring global collaboration on a vendor’s website. Although I’ve removed any specific company references, I think you’ll get the point.

Ardath

As gas prices continue to rise, many businesses are looking for creative ways to cut costs and remain competitive. Our company’s product can help you reduce expenses, while increasing productivity throughout your business.

Let me show you how you can:
  • Product Benefit A
  • Product Benefit B
  • Product Benefit C
Do you have time this week or next for a brief discussion about your business needs? Please reply with the best time for me to contact you.

Best regards,
Sally Salesperson

Does anything about that message speak to my interests or let me know the salesperson has any idea what matters to me? Even though that first sentence could speak to a need, it’s generic, assumed and doesn’t show they even know what I’m interested in. On top of that, they want me to make time to educate them about my business needs. They obviously have no idea about my priorities.

This kind of "so what?" message will leave you in the dust as fast as a lead can hit the delete button. It is not about the potential customer, it’s about them. The salesperson hasn’t done their homework. Most of your leads will see right through such poor messaging, resulting in diminishing engagement with you, and your company.

Now, let’s look at a message likely to generate a better response:

Ardath,

I noticed you’ve read a number of our website resources about how to collaborate more effectively across geographic locations.
I’ve researched your company and would like to share an example of how we’ve helped companies like yours achieve that goal. Not only have they achieved higher levels of collaboration, but demonstrated value by delivering innovations to their customers—much faster than ever before.
I’ve attached a success story to demonstrate the business case and have some additional ideas I’d like to share with you to help your company quickly achieve these kinds of outcomes.
If you think your company will benefit with this kind of successful collaboration, let’s talk.
Thanks,
Sally

Which one of these messages would you not only rather receive, but be more likely to respond to? The first one is company focused and indifferent to the lead’s expressed interests. The second one shows you care and positions you as a value provider. By sending targeted messages, you’ll have a much better shot at assuring that 85% of the purchase decision swings in your favor.

More Stories By Ardath Albee

Ardath Albee, CEO & B2B Marketing Strategist of her firm Marketing Interactions, helps companies with complex sales increase and quantify marketing effectiveness by developing and executing interactive eMarketing strategies driven by compelling content.

Her book, eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, was published by McGraw-Hill.

Her articles and blog posts have been used for university ezines, published in CRM Today, Selling Power, Rain Today and Enterprise CRM News. Marketing Profs has incorporated her blog posts into a number of their "Get to The Point" newsletters.

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