From cold calls and ‘selling in the DM’s’ to relationship driven, service-based sales…
I realise the concept of contacting ‘cold’ prospects is nothing new. For many years, door-to-door salesman dominated this space.
In the 80’s, telemarketers took over. They’d call our landline at the same time each evening as my family sat round the dinner table. ‘Take the phone off the hook!’ became a common phrase in our household.
In more recent times, this form of sales has moved to cold-calling, cold emails and ‘selling in the DM’s’.
Don’t get me wrong. Connecting with new prospects is an important part of a smart sales strategy. And it can be effective — IF done right.
When looking at the methods which have worked for me over the years, some key themes emerged. And in a digital age where people are craving connection, they’re more important than ever! Here are my top strategies:
#1 — FOCUS ON WHAT YOU CAN GIVE, NOT WHAT YOU CAN GET
Concentrate on providing value first to your clients and potential customers. Even if you’re reaching out to connect with someone new, make it a priority to understand and support them. Rather than pitching your products or making a sale.
Add value and showcase your expertise through content, free resources and introductory offers. Make yourself visible so the right people can find you. This helps build the know, like and trust factor with your ideal clients — over time.
Avoid being overly promotional in your communications or ‘selling’ in every social post. It’s important to talk about your offers and share details of how people can work with you. But limiting promotions to one in every 8-10 posts is a good rule of thumb.
Lead with value first, by talking about the problems your customers are experiencing. Offer helpful tips or ideas to support them with their challenges or to reach their goals. Then, include a link or details of how to work with you in the comments.
You can also share results, case studies or provide insights from clients you’re working with. This shows your potential customers what’s possible for them too.
It all comes back to your intention. Instead of being self-focused, come from a place of service. This will help you develop the right, long-term client relationships.
#2 — SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND
“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Stephen Covey
This is the fifth habit in Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and a critical one in sales. It comes back to effective communication. By asking powerful questions and actively listening to truly understand your customers.
My Dad was a successful business owner who referred to himself as a ‘salesman’. One of the greatest lessons he taught me was this. Talk to your customers, really understand their problems and the results they want. Then, offer them the right solution.
Before launching into your sales pitch, take the time to get to know someone and their business. Dive deep into their problems, pain-points and biggest challenges. Clarify their dreams, goals and desired results — where they are now and where they want to go.
Your offers or services are the solution. Then — and only then — share how you can help them get from A-B. By providing them with the right solution.
#3 — BE OF SERVICE
How you approach your actual sales conversations is also important. Here, I’m referring to discussions with potential customers about your services. In these situations, always come from a place of service.
Get to know their problems and desired results. Then, if you can help them — tell them! If not, share some other resource or a recommendation to another service provider.
Again, your goal is crucial here. Offer value and you won’t come across as salesy or pushy. Help them understand if working with you is correct for them and assist them to make the right decision.
Being non-attached to the outcome (whether they say yes or no to working with you) is also key. Your complete focus will be on serving — not what you can get!
#4 — NURTURE YOUR RELATIONSHIPS
An essential part of sales is building relationships and nurturing them over time. Your clients won’t always be ready to buy immediately. It can take several touchpoints before a potential customer even connects with you.
I can think of many examples of service providers I’ve bought from who I didn’t initially resonate with. But after following them for a period of time, I became familiar with their work and value they offered. They earnt my trust over time, until the point I was keen to buy.
The reverse has also happened to me. A potential client decides it isn’t the right time — only to sign up to work together 6 months, a year, or even a few years later! It’s why my approach to sales is to build and maintain long-term relationships. So my clients know who I am and how I can help by the time they’re ready to invest.
Another important point — the more expensive your services, the longer the lead time. So it’s vital to offer value upfront and nurture these relationships. This builds trust over time, until your customers ARE prepared to purchase.
Always remember, a ‘NO’ might be a ‘NOT RIGHT NOW’. By nurturing these relationships, you’ll end up with referrals. And will also stay top of mind so you’ll be the first person they think of when they want to buy!
These sales strategies have helped me attract new clients and add value over time — without being ‘salesy’. I hope they support you too!