How do you know if your prospects are responding well to your introduction efforts, My bet is that if they told you the truth, you’d create a different approach. My goal is to help you understand how the intent of your prospecting efforts and approach may not tell the real story. Most of you are blind to the potential lack of credibility and trust that you are creating with an ineffective outreach. What’s most damaging is that the end results don’t always reflect how poor the approach – you get the meeting, and you conclude that you’re an excellent sales professional. So you go on repeating an outreach style that really doesn’t work. I’ll explain…

I recently received a LinkedIn invite to connect with someone who happened to provide a business service that interests me. This person’s invite briefly described how their service helps small companies like mine. Please make note of the key point here: before this person ever reached out, I was already interested in the particular service that they represent. I accepted his invitation and suggested he call me. This was his first voice mail…

“Hi, good morning this is Bob, and I’m from (blank) HR. Uhm I just wanted to reach out and uhm have a conversation with you about a partnership with my company this year. It says here from your LinkedIn that you are a member of the Indiana CPA Society Board. That’s fantastic uhm, as I’m trying to build and strengthen partnerships with CPAs and would love to uhm pick your brain about ways that your CPA group could create value using services like ours.”

As a result of this person’s voicemail his credibility has decreased, but I will still talk with him to gain more knowledge and insight. Why? Because I was interested in the specific service before he reached out. Let’s dissect the message.

1. The entire message is about Bob, and what Bob wants.

A “partnership” with his company. He’s jumped to referencing a binding relationship, “partnership” when we haven’t even shared a hello. The word partnership is full of commitment, and I know nothing about Bob and his company. Bob loses some credibility here because that tells me he will struggle to be objective in his conversation with me. It also causes me to be cautious in what I share with him because I know he’s ready to leap to “next steps.” He’s talking partnership, and I’m simply willing to spend a few minutes on the phone. He will not be able to listen objectively to me; all of his efforts will be spent on pursuing a partnership that may only serve his goal of hitting quota and commission. Additionally, it’s evident that he won’t be consulting me based on my best interest, but instead advising me based on his best interest. It’s similar to debating whether you go on a date with someone, and they are talking about meeting their parents – and you haven’t even agreed to the date.

In addition, he adds the time frame “this year.” Who’s time frame is this? It’s not mine. Is Bob experiencing some kind of time constraint that he plans on trying to transfer to me? Again, we haven’t even talked yet, and he wants a partnership with me this year. With all this commitment and time frame talk, how is Bob going to remain objective?

He makes the conversation about him again when he talks about the partnerships he’s trying to build with CPAs, and that the time spent with me will allow him to pick my brain on how he can better position himself with this particular professional group.

2. “Uhm” is not a word. Don’t make the call if you are unsure of your message and purpose. “Uhm”  creates a memorable impression – a lack of preparedness and certainty. It’s a filler because you didn’t prepare what you wanted to say. You don’t have to speak like a world-renowned scholar or ivy league English professor, but you do need to learn how to communicate with conviction. Your words represent who you are – good or bad, you chose them.

3. The word “just” gives off an apologetic feel. It’s as if you’re justifying yourself. It comes from a place of insecurity and uncertainty. If you are trying to help me – don’t be apologetic. If you are trying to sell me – then yes, I can understand the use of the word “just.”.

4. If you are going to read someone’s LinkedIn profile – do it prior to making the call. Don’t give the recipient a play by play of their own profile during your message, and above all – make sure you’ve quoted their profile accurately. In this case, I have not been a participant on the CPA Board since 2012 and I have no interest in discussing how his expertise and services can help the CPA community. I’m interested in how it could help Lappin180.

5. Avoid labeling other people’s experiences. Bob references my CPA Board experience as fantastic. Why is it fantastic? Because he thinks I’m still well connected amongst CPA firms and leadership, so he can pick my brain on sales opportunities within that industry? Maybe my experience wasn’t fantastic (it actually was). Again, he’s labeling something that means something to him but may mean nothing to me. Enthusiasm doesn’t build trust. Neutrality and objectivity do.

Here’s the most damaging and troublesome part of this conversation. I will speak to Bob, but only because of the timing of his outreach. Bob will deem his initial approach as a success and then repeat. Now you might do the same exact thing, but here’s the mistake – for Bob, I represented the 20% of prospects that he will reach out to that were already contemplating making a change. Is there anything about his approach and message that would appeal to the other eight prospects who haven’t contemplated a change, or even recognized that what they’re currently doing needs to be improved? Is this really a game of attrition because no one is elevating their prospecting and conversation standards? Has it truly become a pursuit that if it works 20% of the time – that’s the standard?

We’ve surveyed over two thousand sales professionals across multiple industries and can categorically share this: only two of ten prospects have already contemplated the potential to make a change before you ever step foot in their conference room that first time. So maybe your techniques and approach only work when the prospect has done the hard work of contemplating change without you.
Here’s another statistic: multiple sales research results show that eight out of ten sales professionals repeat what they’ve done before to achieve their previous wins. All of this effort and routine is based on the sales perspective of the salesperson, but very little is based on the effort and experience of the prospect and their struggle to explore and embrace change. Wish Bob luck.