You have a lead for a great prospect. Maybe you were introduced at an industry function and had a brief, but promising discussion. Perhaps you were invited to follow up the next week. Great start! You’re in, right? Not so fast. The truth is that you still need to get your foot firmly in the door if you are to really start the sales cycle and move toward closing a deal. Unfortunately, at this stage, any communications misstep can kill your chances of setting up a meaningful introductory meeting. Let me repeat that: Any misstep.
With that in mind, here are 12 unfortunately common ways your opening lines might take you out of contention (and how to avoid these gaffes):
Even with so many social and technological ways to connect, there are still two primary ways to reach out and set up a meeting: phone and email. While each offers unique opportunities for success, they also offer unique opportunities to fail miserably right out of the gate. Let’s take a closer look at common mistakes these channels share, followed by ones unique to each:
Mistakes You Might Make Over Phone OR Email Channels
Each of these channels can be a challenge. Email inboxes fill up fast, so it’s hard to get your message to stand out even if asked for beforehand by the prospect. The phone is no longer a sure-fire way to get through, either. Even without a secretary in the outer office, voice mail is the modern gatekeeper. But regardless of the method used, here are some common mistakes that can keep you from truly connecting and nailing down that appointment:
Not doing your homework
With so much information available online today, it’s inexcusable to have generic, incomplete or incorrect information in your communication. Between Google, LinkedIn and Facebook, chances are you can do the research necessary to make your message targeted, on-point and mistake-free in its content.
Not being precise
In addition to reminding the prospect why you are reaching out to him or her (especially if your communication was requested), be specific when stating your purpose for getting in touch. If you can drop a name as a referral, do that. If you can point to a success story in the prospect’s marketplace, do that, too.
Not being concise
On the other hand, don’t ramble and don’t feel as if you have to share everything in one message. At this point, you are merely trying to get your foot in the door; you can squeeze the rest of the way through soon enough.
Not speaking the language of the prospect
Don’t assume that your prospect knows all the lingo, jargon and acronyms you take for granted in your industry. A corporate-level decision maker might be a few levels removed from frontline staff that speak the same language you do.
Being careless and unprofessional
Check your spelling and your grammar. If these aren’t your strong suits, ask a wordsmith to give your message the “once over.” Above all, make sure you spell your prospect’s name correctly!
Forgetting to ask for the meeting
Your message has a purpose: to get that meeting! Therefore, it should include a call-to-action statement in which you ask the prospect to let you know when he or she can meet.
Not following up (more than once)
Corporate types are busy. Voicemails and emails pile up, fires erupt, and to-do lists grow longer every day. Chances are that you’ll have to be “professionally persistent” in order to make the connection and set that meeting. Decision-makers know that if they simply don’t respond the first couple of times, most salespeople will give up and move on. Don’t give them the easy out.
Not making it easy for the prospect to get needed info
Sure, the easiest way for you is to direct the prospect to your website. The easier way for them, however, is if you summarize key points in your message or provide direct links to essential information. You could even link to an introductory video. OR you could be really old-fashioned and send information through the U.S. mail. Crazy, huh?
Mistakes You Might Make Via Voicemail:
Not being prepared to leave your best message
Simply put, know what you are going to say before making the call. Script out your message if it helps you. Don’t stumble and don’t ramble.
Not leaving a call-back number (twice)
When leaving your voice mail, announce yourself, state the reason for your call, and leave your call-back number near the end of the message. In fact, you should leave it again at the very end. Sometimes phone connections are shaky and the sound can cut out; other times your prospect might be fumbling for a pen and paper. Some voicemail systems let you replay the last several seconds of a message without replaying the entire message. In any case, make sure your contact number is within those final few seconds.
Mistakes You Might Make Via Email:
Muffing the subject line
A poorly conceived subject line can keep your email in the bowels of an inbox for eternity. Click here for subject line and email tips to help your message get noticed and opened.
Not re-reading your email message before sending
It takes only a few moments to read your email message again before clicking “Send”. But it might save you from omitting key information or making a deal-killing mistake in spelling, grammar, or readability. Remember this rule: Read it again before you send.
The Bottom Line:
Getting that introductory meeting can be tough. Don’t make it tougher by being careless or unprofessional.
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