Sales professionals right now have some advantages our mentors never had. We can choose from so many channels for our sales outreach strategy! There are social media choices with networking communities like LinkedIn. There are email campaigns — automated campaigns, or broadcasts. We can even complement our individual sales offers with marketing, like videos on a YouTube channel if we like.
And we still have the greatest tool of all — for me at least — the phone. More about the phone in a minute.
With all those possibilities floating around, a sales outreach strategy can feel a little overwhelming. Should I be looking for a lot of studies and statistics to show me what direction to go? Not really.
If you want to make your most effective sales outreach, only two things matter. And they are the same two factors we salesmen faced back in the day:
- Your prospect’s favorite way to get information.
- Your most comfortable way to communicate.
Can it really be that simple? Yes — especially if you can get these key factors to meet in the middle. Let me explain.
The Buyer’s Comfort Level
If I’m a buyer, quite a few factors influence how I’m most comfortable being approached. Let’s say I’m a business decision-maker. Am I the owner of a small business? Then I probably answer my phone myself, at least sometimes. I certainly do business with my own customers over the phone. So I’m not skittish about the phone, and I’m probably comfortable with hearing a sales offer on the phone. And I’m in charge of my own schedule. A big plus in a phone sales transaction. You could call me and actually book an appointment for tomorrow morning.
But let’s say I’m a decision-maker with a larger business. Then the phone gets more challenging. It’s tougher to reach me because I have lots of gatekeepers around me. And lots of people calling me are people I would rather keep at arm’s length. So for me, the best sales outreach might be an email or, maybe even better, a message on LinkedIn.
The Sales Professional’s Comfort Level
I’ve probably closed a thousand sales on the phone, so I’m very comfortable with that as my tool of choice. In fact, I was in cold-call telephone prospecting sales for 19 years.
I’m lucky because the phone felt natural to me right from the start. It was very comfortable for me to pick up the phone and engage someone in a conversation. I didn’t have fears or reservations about telephone usage. And it just came very naturally to turn that conversation into a prospect appointment.
For somebody like me, the phone is still a good channel for outreach, because I’ve got an excellent chance to get through the gatekeepers and engage a prospect on the phone no matter who or where.
The Writer Vs. The Talker
Obviously, not all salespeople prefer the phone. I had a sales rep on my team who loved to write. He was excellent with email or LinkedIn messages. On the other hand, if he couldn’t get through, he’d have to pick up the phone just the same as me!
For the writers among us, email can be highly effective in some campaigns, with multiple touches over a period of time.
How can you tell which approach to use? Whatever campaign you try, always track the responses and pay attention to what they tell you about the buyer group. The best route is simply the one that shows the most efficacy.
Different Goals, Different Channels
For the right project, social media works really well. I did a social post recently for a friend of mine, and it was all about recruitment for volunteers. I have found that volunteer recruitment is more effective on social media because people can choose to respond to you. In responding, they get to show publicly that they’re mindful of community involvement.
How To Make It All Match Up
Now that you’ve seen a few of the variables, you can think about choosing the right channel for your sales outreach strategy. Take into account how your prospect is most comfortable being communicated with. Start out, at least, by selecting the communication method that’s strongest for you.
Do those two key factors match up? If not, it’s on you to build skills and muscles in those areas where you’re not as strong. Which is really another opportunity for you.
Thankfully, while I’m a natural telephone salesperson, I’m also fortunate that I went to journalism school at UNC and have really good business writing skills. Crafting a well-written email or a LinkedIn message to get a good response comes very naturally to me.
So those are the two key points in making our choice of sales channels. How does my prospect like to be communicated with, and what communication method is going to bring me the greatest percentage of response? Where am I strongest in marrying those two factors? And wherever I may have weaknesses, how can I get the best training and improvement in those areas? Because if I build up enough muscle mass in all my skills, I’ll be set up to make any sale.
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