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Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

Email

In my previous post, I provided 4 tips for composing sales emails to prospects and current clients.  This time I want to give two hints and a warning related how to send and prepare better sales emails for the purpose of prospecting to gain new business.  New business can come from existing clients as well as new leads.  See three tips for sales email Do’s and Don’ts below.

 

  1. Do separate prospect mailing list into strategic segments. In order to make the content relevant to all recipients and avoid sending very general emails, you have to segment your lists. Sending every email to every person in your contact list makes it impossible to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. General emails rarely end up anywhere but the trash bin.
  2. Do NOT assume prospects want your attachments. Due to internet crime, recipients may fear an unsolicited attachment may contain a computer virus.  Websites where marketing materials can easily be found as well as more information on your company are helpful and typically preferred attachments.   Put your company website with direct link to email topic within the body of your email.  Then repeat the website directing to home page in your signature line.
  3. Do consider technology that your prospect may be using. Recent research shows that people read their emails on mobile devices at least 50% of the time. One of the biggest mistakes you can make in email marketing is to only optimize your emails for laptops and desktops. Be mindful of smaller screens when you are including content and design. The safest option is to go with a responsive design that will cover all screen sizes from phone to iPad to larger monitors. Otherwise you are decreasing email effectiveness and may be losing a huge portion of your audience.

For 13 more email tips, check out Email Etiquette article.

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Email

We are all on email overload – all the time. For many of us, email is our first line of communication. Email has, in many cases, taken the place of the business letter or marketing kit. As I write this, I must confess that I have a growing number of unread emails I have yet to sift through and respond to this afternoon. Forget about spam, which is so not cool… even my ‘priority’ emails can quickly become a wasteland where information goes to die.

The same is true for my prospects. When sending them an email, I can safely assume mine is not the only one they will receive that day. Chances are they already have 1-3 emails sitting in their inbox asking them for “time to connect” or telling them about some “really great opportunity”.

Statistics show that most sales emails have a response rate of about 1%. In other words, if you send an email to 100 prospects, you most likely will only get one response back.

So, how do you make your email stand out from the crowd? How do you catch their attention? How do you make them an offer they cannot refuse?

Below are four simple tips to keep in mind as you master the art of composing a sales email that your proects cannot pass up.

  1. Subject line will matter. It needs to be intriguing, something they feel compelled to click on and open. People have little time and even less desire to open an email that is not useful to them in some way. Avoid “spammy” words like complementary, discount, and sale.  Your subject line should be personal and grab their attention. Know your prospect’s needs. Offer advice and solutions.
  2. Email body must have a purpose. Now that you have piqued their interest and they have opened your email instead of deleting it, you need to clearly state your purpose for reaching out. Whether you are trying to: warm up a cold lead, set a time to meet, or close a deal – your message should convey value and offer them something that aligns with their goals!  Less is more, so keep it short and simple. If you want to ensure that you stand out from the pack, only share clear and relevant sales content. Cramming your email full of too many details about a service or product, will only ensure it gets deleted before they have read through the entire text.
  3. Closing should finish strong. Here is where you should give them a clear path to action. The last thing they read should leave them thinking about their next step. End with just one question, one that prompts a response.
  4. Signature line is important. Do not forget to include a phone number in the contact information after your signature or name. Including your email address is a little redundant, but your phone number is a must.

For more sales email tips, come back soon for 3 Do’s and Don’ts of prospecting emails.

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Manners still matter!  Be aware of your manners, whether at a restaurant, the golf course, or sporting event. A relaxed atmosphere is not an excuse for lax manners. After all, it is not the first impression that matters; it is maintaining a favorable one throughout the life of the relationship.  With respect to Julie Andrews, just a spoon full of manners helps the message go down in the most delightful way!

“The way we do anything is the way we do everything.” – Martha Beck

No matter how well you know a client, they are always observing you.  If they were raised with dining etiquette and you grab the wrong fork, they notice. If you curse, they notice. If you drink too much, they notice. Formalities or lack thereof may not bite you the first time, eventually it will catch up with you. It may even impact your reputation within your own firm.

Ruthie Bolton said, “If you take in life just a few principles, you won’t have to carry around a suitcase full of rules.”  With that in mind, below are five simple etiquette principles for sales professionals.

  1. Respect their time. People do not have time for visitors. My clients share the overwhelming amount of emails and meetings they have on a daily basis. Keep small talk to a minimum. Thank them for their time and transition quickly to the business at hand by stating the purpose for your meeting or phone call. An appointment without a purpose is simply a visit in disguise. Every appointment should have a clear objective, even if it does not lead to a closed deal. Show up on time, every time.
  1. Listen and be engaged! When you start conversations, and listen to what people are telling you, it will catapult your business. We live in a world where people are more connected than ever before, yet they are starving for a real connection to someone and something! They need to feel valued, important and that you are genuinely interested in them.  Listen to understand instead of listening to respond. To do that, you must forget about yourself and your product completely.
  1. Bring positive energy with you! Be in control of the energy and atmosphere in every room you enter. Little things matter and are noticed, even if it is subconsciously. You dictate the kind of experience people have with you! This starts at your very first interaction. The way you dress, your handshake, eye contact and even your smile matters. Be genuine and authentic. Be bold; speak a little louder and speak clearly. When you are enthusiastic, people want to be a part of what you offer. Your image and attitude are going to be the things people associate with your business, your brand and your product.
  1. Watch your Words! Sometimes the oldest principles are still the best principles. If you don’t have anything nice to say, the polite thing to do is to say nothing. You should never speak negatively about another company, business or person. By knocking the competition, you may be insulting their past decisions and even worse, your organization and the competition may one day merge! Talking about people versus issues is simply gossip.
  1. Give recognition and appreciation. With any form of business etiquette, personalize the process by being specific to the person and situation. Express sincere gratitude and appreciation for their efforts. Give heartfelt praise for accomplishments, big and small. Celebrating achievements encourages repetitive action. Never tell the what without the why! Saying thank you for your business is an easy amenity. Telling them why you are thankful conveys sincerity in appreciation. Don’t be afraid to break out the postcards and hand written notes – in a world of emails and texts these really standout!

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5b_conflictOnce you have the foundation of vulnerability-based trust, you can start addressing the next behavior of cohesive teams, which is conflict.   Some people try to avoid conflict because it is emotional and at times physically gut-wrenching.  Whenever you bring people together, with different personalities, different ages, genders, etc. – these is going to be conflict!

 

Below is what one team leader had to say about using this program with her team:

“I have experienced the power of this program first hand.  It opened our team up for tough discussions, items we might have swept under the rug. It’s a process, but it is worth it.”

– Stacy Winsett, MS, SPHR, GPHR, SHRM-SCP, Senior HR Executive with a Fortune 500 Company

 

Conflict on teams does not have to be all negative.  Cohesive Teams engage in healthy conflict around ideas.  With healthy conflict, team members have the freedom to disagree with each other in unfiltered, passionate, and constructive debate about ideas instead of veiled discussions and guarded threats.

 

Below is what another team leader had to say about using this program with his team:

 “The 5 Behaviors program was a real eye-opener for our team.  We have a much better understanding of each other’s strengths and challenges, and we’re better equipped to work together with trust, transparency and radical candor to achieve a common goal.”

– Stuart McMahan, Vice President of  Provider Solutions Software Division with a Fortune 500 Company

 

Next, we will look at why commitment, is a layer in The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team model.

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meetingOne of the greatest complaints from corporate executives about attending professional networking events is they feel like a target for hungry sales people and job seekers.  One client of mine will not divulge her title and avoids sharing her company name at all costs.  I invited another client to a meeting and they shared with me they received six sales calls the next day, thus to say, they never came back again.    Below are ten best practices for networking, becoming known for what you know, and having your target prospects see you as a valued resource.

10 Best Practices for Network Meetings

  1. Reciprocity is the rule. If the group is one that hosts your typical prospects, get involved and serve.  Remember, give and you shall receive – it works as simple as that. The difference is, it means you have to give your time and energy versus making a quick call to someone who you see as your prospect.  You will meet people in a servant role versus your sales role.
  2. People Watch. Look out for newcomers or introverts.  Introduce yourself to them and others.  Next meeting, they … you got it, will look for you!
  3. Connect through meaningful introductions. Become a connector and when you introduce any two people, create a little 10 second introductory commercial that states a claim about the person. As an example I was introduced recently in a networking setting as “This is Mary Anne, I describe her as the glue that holds the world together”.  She then had a nice statement about the person I was being introduced to.
  4. Do not interrupt two or more parties. If you want to join a conversation, stand behind and find a nice time or place to interject then reach out and make an introduction.
  5. Forget about yourself completely. Ask open ended questions about them, their interests and business.  You can certainly state your 30-second commercial  when asked what you do.  Be sure it is compelling.  As much as possible, keep the conversation on your prospect.
  6. People will lose your card. Networking is not about handing out cards.  I rarely carry them.   I do however ask people for cards and follow up with a signed note and my business card.
  7. Offer value versus follow up. If you learned about their interests, take notes promptly so you do not forget.  Then, instead of calling to “follow up”, send them something they might find of value including information that matches the interests or business they mentioned during your conversation.
  8. Practice networking. If you are introverted, and networking is difficult for you. Make it a point to only meet two or three people.   Twenty or more years ago, I walked into an international meeting for trainers (ATD).  Although an extrovert, I was nervous; my background is sales, these were trainers.  I was a Bostonian, these were Texans.   I got my drink (yes, they served drinks back then), and I hovered in a corner, looking for what to do next. Two women walked up to me, shook my hand and I remained friends with them for many years and am still active in that association.  They later told me, they were “practicing networking.” If they did not introduce themselves, I may not have made it back to the next meeting.
  9. Ask before you spam. Do not add people to your mailing list without their permission.  If you do, they may look at your email promotions and newsletters as spam versus the valuable content it really is.
  10. Use “by the way…” prospecting. If you do all of the above, serve with your heart, make connections to help people; you will know when the time is right to say, “By the way, could I share a bit about our business”. Or to say “By the way, I would like to have a coffee, learn more about what you do, share what I do and see if there is any way to assist one another.”  Going for the appointment without the relationship, more often than not, is a turn off.

Happy Networking!

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handshakeYou have heard the term “Relationship Marketing.”   So what is it?    In this short post, I will provide you with a few tips that have helped me gain clients, win friends, and manage to stay self-employed for 21 years.

Below are my Five Tips for Building Sales Relationships that Last a Lifetime

  1. Networking Meetings:   Forget about yourself completely.  Show a genuine interest in the people you are talking with or sitting beside.   Make people feel important.  This is a proven way to win friends and influence people and it is not out of style yet!
  2. Questions:  Learn to ask questions that build on the prospects needs and buying motives versus trying to tell people what you do and how well you do it.  Open-ended questions engage people more than the Yes/No type.  Eventually people will ask, “What do you do?”
  3. Give of yourself:   Volunteer!  Give your time and resources to the events where your prospects are.  This will create visibility for you.
  4. Become a Connector:  Look for ways to connect people within your network.  During conversations, listen for opportunities to help people meet others that may fill their business or social needs.
  5. Stay in contact:   Keep in touch with contacts and past clients through phone calls, notes, cards, and even little gifts here and there.  I love to give books.    I once had a client say to me, “I have not done business with you in three3 years and you keep sending me a gift.  Thank you!!!”    When another client was laid off from a high-level job,  where he received many vendor holiday gifts, I was the only one he said sent him a gift to his home and it made him feel so special.

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earAny organization can benefit from better listening to improve communication and reduce misunderstandings among employees, as well as interactions with customers. Listening is an active skill and takes work and practice to master.   Also, knowing how to communicate with others that are different from you is a valuable skill.  It should: increase competence and confidence in delegating by leaders; result in stronger teams who enjoy  better collaboration, increase commitment from employees, accomplish better problem solving through open communication, and reduce labor costs by improving time management through reducing miscommunication.  Below are a few courses offered by Peak Performance Solutions that could help with making communication skills more effective.

  • Communicating With Style -using DiSC behavioral styles as the foundation, participants gain useful and immediate feedback designed to help them build more productive teams and reduce interpersonal conflict.
  • Listening For Results – using a Personal Listening Profile, participants will identify their most natural listening approach, explore their strengths and challenges as listeners and practice modifying their listening approaches to meet the situation.

Due to time constraints and immediate needs, not everyone can immediately attend training.  If that is the case, consider starting the process by disseminating books or articles that may help with mutual understanding or improved business communications.  You can find book suggestions on Peak Performance Solutions reading lists.

For articles, review the following to see which fits the organization’s immediate need.

See also older Peak Performance solutions blog posts, including Giving Better Presentations and Improving Your Meetings.

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