My dad was a great lover of comedy. Born in 1920, he grew up in the era of vaudeville and silent movies (where the piano player sat below the screen at the theatre and played the soundtrack!). I loved it when he shared these memories with me.
When I was growing up, we also spent many hours together enjoying the best comedy television had to offer, from the performances on Ed Sullivan to the full hour of laughter created by Red Skelton and the antics of the amazing Dick van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore.
Strange as it may sound, as I work on sales projects for both myself and my clients, I am often reminded of one of my dad’s favourite comedy routines … and it keeps me smiling as I focus on solving today’s complex puzzle of how to reach potential clients.
What is the comedy skit I’m reminded of when making sales calls today? And how does it relate to connecting with potential clients?
Some of you have already guessed from the title of this post that the skit is Abbott and Costello’s famous “Who’s on First?”. It still makes me laugh every time I listen to it.
The question we need to answer today when trying to reach potential clients is slightly different. It is more like “Who’s on What?” Are your prospects still diligently checking voicemail each day? Or are they thoroughly moving through their email messages? Perhaps they have started to prefer texting, or can be reached more effectively through a social platform?
In order to get traction with long-term sales projects, I’ve begun approaching each person from multiple mediums.
I’ve had success by following this pattern:
- I leave a voicemail message first. The message can be short, created simply to inspire a call back or, depending on the project, it might contain a few details. What’s important is the prospect hearing the sound of my voice. Words on a screen do not have the same ability to portray enthusiasm, begin building trust and spark a long-term relationship. The sound of my voice does this work for me. At the end of the message, I indicate that “I’m going to take the liberty of sending you an email, in case that’s easier for you. Look for me in your inbox.” I use the phrase “take the liberty” because in many cases the person hasn’t given me permission to use their email address; I’ve found it through my research process. I believe it is important to acknowledge this. (If you are interested in reading more tips on leaving messages, you can check out my blog series on this subject starting with https://thephonelady.com/the-aabcs-of-leaving-messages-part-i/.)
- Immediately after I leave this message, I send an email. The subject line is Re: My voicemail message earlier today. The Re: allows my message to get past most spam filters as it is seen as an ongoing conversation. And referring to my voicemail message increases the odds that the individual will listen to the message and become more engaged when they hear my voice. The email itself might be quite detailed or it might simply request a 10-minute phone conversation at their convenience, and include a link to my calendar so they can book a time that works best for them.
- Next, I connect with this person on LinkedIn, including a very brief message. If we are already connected, the message can include more detail. If the person is a second or third contact, my message might simply say “Left you a voicemail message earlier today and would like to connect with you here on LinkedIn as well. Look forward to having a conversation soon. Mary Jane”
These three steps can take me 20 minutes. At first I found this discouraging. I’m comparing it to my days of being able to have upward of 40 conversations with prospects in one day … the days before voicemail! But … I’m getting traction … and that’s what matters.
One of the reasons I continue to take on a sales project or two each year is to make sure I keep up with what’s changed, that I know what the necessary steps are – right now – to build the trust that results in revenue. Today, with so many communication choices, reaching our prospects does take more time but once you figure out who’s on what medium, you can focus on building those all-important long-term relationships.
What are you doing to make sure you reach your prospects? Do share your experiences in the comment section below.