With businesses facing all kinds of challenges at the moment it’s time to evaluate with approaches are succeeding and which need adapting for the “new normal.” Here Ben Harper takes a look at some of the most effective sales approaches for 2021 and evaluates whether the older, tried and tested methods are better than new, innovative sales strategies.
Each company uses different sales strategies and approaches in their sales departments. We see this amongst our client base with some clients approaching their prospects by email, some reaching out via LinkedIn, many through direct mail, and some by picking up the phone and giving them a call. The best, or should we say most effective approach, is something we debate internally on a regular basis, so we thought we’d put our thoughts to paper to highlight which we think the best approaches are for the modern market, and when you should look to deploy them.
Approaching prospects by direct mail or by phone call is often seen as an old fashioned approach, and can be particularly unpopular amongst some of the types of businesses we work with in the more modern digital and creative sectors. If your business is primarily online, it feels more comfortable and natural to approach through digital methods such as email or LinkedIn, partly because it’s less intrusive and partly because it’s less pressurised and that makes any rejection easier to take.
However, that’s where a major issue can arise in this style of sales approach. When it’s less personal it’s much easier for a prospect to simply ignore you if you’ve emailed or used LinkedIn by simply deleting your email or declining your message. If they’re unsure about who you are and what it is you’re selling it’s very easy to ignore you, or send a straightforward “no thank you”. It’s also common to be lost in the swathes of emails and messages that flood in to most businesses every day.
We advise our sales team, and our clients, to push themselves out of their comfort zone regardless of their preferred sales approaches and start with a phone call. There’s a number of reasons for this, including:
* In 2021 people are getting less direct contact than ever. Having started the year in a national lockdown, merged with a changing business landscape, people are generally more open to a chat
* You avoid getting lost with all of their other emails and messages, and you can stand out
* It’s a chance to build a personal relationship
* You’ll get the chance to handle objections instantly, and get a decision (or a direction of travel for your prospect) much more quickly
* Even if you don’t get hold of your prospect, the information you can glean from their gatekeeper can be invaluable in future follow ups. In this instance is can pay to plan your gatekeeper questions in advance and how you may be able to use them so that you can learn the best time, and method, of contacting your prospect
As our Chief Revenue Officer, Tom, often says, if you want a doctors appointment you don’t email the doctor and wait for a response. You pick up the phone, tell them what you need, and get an answer about an appointment quickly – and the exact same thing applies to sales.
You might find it really uncomfortable to pick the phone up and make that contact, but if you know a prospect has a need for a service that you can provide, then getting over that confidence barrier can make all the difference to your business growth. Once you get into the habit of speaking to prospects in this way, you’ll quickly build up a sales style that you can apply to future calls. Learn what works and what doesn’t, note down which objections you regularly get presented with, and you’ll see the benefits quickly.
We’re launching our Sales Academy for our clients in the coming weeks that will provide plenty of information, guides, checklists, and templates to help you adopt this approach, and get better at it over time to increase success from the insight we provide also.
While we’ve focussed a lot on the value of phone calls, there is a place for email and LinkedIn messages in every sales approach. The thing is, we’d argue they’re best used as a second contact point to send details over for a future call or demonstration, or to let someone know you’re trying to get hold of them if you’ve failed by other means.
Direct mail and other approaches can work as follow ups, or to warm up a prospective client before you call them if you don’t know if they need your service yet; but as a general rule we’d always argue that picking up the phone first is always best if you know a need exists and can help to solve a problem for your prospect with a product, service or offer.