At our company we examine every customer interaction and decide how we could take that experience as far as we can. We call this our Service to the Nth degree value. Can we take every moment of interaction to an extreme? How could we make it better for that person? For example, how can we answer a phone call with Nth degree thinking? Try getting to the caller quickly and eliminating voice mail. Or perhaps, always answer in three rings – or better yet, two. (Maybe even one!) Why keep that customer waiting? Create the best Outside-In experience you can.
However, today’s blog is about extending that service impression to the process of sales. In fact to put a fine point to it, for those of us that have to introduce ourselves and our companies to prospects, this is about the first 30 seconds of an interaction! Sales people struggle with the first introduction. Most of us spend hours preparing and researching our target. We know about their last annual report, we have read the press releases, we know about our competitors. My guess is that you’re loaded up with marketing materials. You have brochures, white papers, and case studies coming out of your ears.
So what do you need to focus on during the first 30 seconds? First off, your words.
1. Be crystal clear with your purpose. Sales people of the world… face it – we’re not crystal clear with our purpose in the first 30 seconds! We wander in these early conversations. We try to connect and “build relationships”. We try to impress with our knowledge of our offerings. We ask for the “order” when our prospect barely knows us. Be direct without being pushy. Be authentic.
2. Don’t ask for a relationship right out of the gate. It is weird to ask to build a relationship in the first call. It did not work in the hallways of high school, and it is just as well, creepy when selling. This is just too much of a leap of faith for an audience that really is still paying attention to their email or the project they were working on when you called them and interrupted them.
3. Differentiate yourself. Oftentimes, we act like and conduct business like everyone else. You could insert any product into your introduction and you would sound like the other ten voice mail messages your prospect deleted this week. Make yourself stand out. Think about how your company differentiates itself and how you can communicate it. Don’t let your introduction be “one size fits all”.
4. Make sure to speak in terms of customer benefit. As sales people, if we’re not careful our opening conversation sounds something like this to our prospect, “I am Chris Burkhard, I work for my company, I am interested in getting to know you so I can sell you my product so that I can meet my monthly quota, because I am falling behind on my bills, and I really need this sale now, you see. Truth is, I need a a quick hit to stay on track, and keep my sales manager off my back.” Does your introduction sound like me, me, me? It is subtle but true. Until we learn to speak in an Outside-In way and in terms of the customers benefit, we will always sound selfish. Who wants to build a relationship, ever, with someone that is all about themselves?
Sales people of the world, if you’re on plan then you can ignore me. If you’re falling behind, I bet I know why, and I have the answer – it starts with your first 30 seconds. How good are you and your company at first impressions?