Research Reveals a Tactic 34X More Effective Than Email [New Data]

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Trends tend to go in cycles. There’s a reason for the saying “what’s old is new again” — if something was popular once, odds are it’ll come back sooner or later.

Modern sales practitioners and experts spend a lot of time talking about ways to optimize sales emails and social media messages for the best response rates. But could it be that face-to-face is actually the way to go in our digital times?Researchers from Western University recently studied the effectiveness of different communication channels to get people to take a survey, and the results spoke loud and clear.

“We found that people were much more likely to agree to complete a survey when they were asked in-person as opposed to over email,” Vanessa K. Bohns, assistant professor at Cornell University, wrote in an HBR article. “Face-to-face requests were 34 times more effective than emailed ones.”

Bohns attributed this stark difference to two factors. The first is what face-to-face interactions offer that emails lack: Nonverbal communication. “W hen we replicated our results in a second study we found the nonverbal cues requesters conveyed during a face-to-face interaction made all the difference in how people viewed the legitimacy of their requests,” she wrote.

Secondly, she pointed to the email recipients’ perception of the ask. Think about it: How often do you click on a survey link from an unknown sender? Yup, that’s what I thought.

So what does this staggering statistic mean for salespeople? Should reps reallocate their time spent on email to traveling to buyers’ offices and shaking hands?

Well … not quite. Just like so many other things in sales, the effectiveness and appropriateness of different connection channels hinges on the timing and context.

“It’s not realistic for a sales rep to go out and meet with hundreds of prospective customers in a territory for the very first interaction they have; nor is a prospect interested in taking an in-person meeting the way they may have 10 or 15 years ago. The sales rep [should] create enough value through channels such as email and social so that the prospect is compelled to take a first meeting,” Brian Signorelli, director of HubSpot’s global sales partner program, explained. “However, as the mutual exploration continues and approaches the final decision-making stages, asking for a purchasing commitment through email or social is almost never appropriate and should — at a minimum — be done over the phone or video conference.”

Signorelli also pointed out that the type of sale is relevant when deciding on the best method of communication. “For businesses selling complex, high ticket items, face-to-face is likely appropriate.”

Michael Pici, director of sales at HubSpot, agreed that the connection channel should shift as the relationship progresses.

“There is a reason in sales when salespeople receive an email from a prospect asking a question and ask their manager what to do, we say ‘Pick up the phone and call them,'” Pici said. “Going from text to phone to in person each adds new context and investment to a dialogue, which in turn leads to better understanding of intent and trust.”

As for how to kick off a relationship via email that becomes a phone conversation and eventually an in-person or video meeting, Jeff Hoffman, sales trainer and creator of Your SalesMBA, had some words of wisdom for reps. From his point of view, it’s all about making the right initial ask and building from there.

“Keep it simple and easy to respond to,” Hoffman said. “I try to create a question that can be answered in less than 10 keystrokes. Something like, ‘How can I get a copy of your PowerPoint presentation?’ has a better chance of a response than three choices of times on when to meet.” Then, once the rep receives that initial response, they can start to build credibility, provide value, and eventually maybe even close a deal.

What do you think about this data point — is face-to-face back in vogue (or did it never go out of style in the first place)? How do you tailor your ask to different connection channels? When is a face-to-face meeting most effective, or appropriate? Share your thoughts in the comments.

HubSpot CRM


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

7 Intriguing Questions to Include in Your Prospecting Email

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Ending your first email to a prospect with a question gets their mental gears turning, demonstrates your subject matter expertise, and helps kick off a meaningful conversation.

Perhaps most importantly, it makes your message memorable. The Zeigarnik effect states that people fixate on unfinished tasks — so leaving a question dangling in your prospect’s mind causes them to think about your email long after they’ve read it.

What should you ask buyers? Great question. These seven options will help you end prospecting emails on a strong note. 

If you’re more of a visual learner, click here to jump straight to the infographic we created with 24Slides.

7 Questions to Use in Prospecting Sales Emails

1) “Would you like to learn about the opportunity I think [prospect’s competitor] is missing out on?”

Nothing is more interesting than competitive intelligence. The buyer doesn’t know if you have real insights to offer — but they’ll want to get on the phone to find out.

Citing another player in your prospect’s space also proves you’re not spraying and praying, since this email could only apply to them.

2) “I see [prospect’s company] uses [X strategy]. Why?”

Not only will you learn valuable information about why the buyer is using a specific approach, you’ll also make them wonder if you know about a better way.

3) “I see [prospect’s company] isn’t investing in [Y area]. Why not?”

This question is a variation on #2. The response will tell you whether your prospect doesn’t know about the opportunity, is unsure how to capitalize on it, or doesn’t have the resources to do anything about it.

No matter the answer, you’re in a good position to help. Prove the opportunity is worth their time, help them create a plan, or show them how your product makes it far simpler to execute.

4) “Is [likely challenge or opportunity] a priority for [prospect’s boss]?”

Use LinkedIn to discover to whom your prospect reports (or to whom their boss reports). Do some digging to identify their top initiatives — maybe they wrote a blog post discussing their current focus, spoke at a webinar about their success in an area, or belong to a niche community.

Use this intel to craft your question. Your prospect will be eager to learn if you can help them impress their boss.

5) “Do you want to get on a call with [expert within your company] to discuss [prospect’s business focus]?”

Offer to connect your recipient with an internal expert. For example, if she works in Sales Operations, you might write:

“Our Sales Ops senior manager recently built a new lead scoring program from the ground up. Do you want to get on a call with him to discuss Clearize’s lead score strategy?”

You’ll immediately distinguish yourself from the other reps trying to win time on her calendar to talk about their product — unlike them, you’re adding value from the get-go.

Of course, you won’t be able to do this for every deal, so save it for important accounts and hard-to-reach prospects.

6) “Have you considered trying [X technique]?”

If you know of an easy fix for your prospect, suggest it in your first email. They’ll feel indebted to you for your help — which starts the relationship off on strong footing and makes them likelier to listen to your future suggestions.

Wondering what this might look like in practice? Suppose you sell an event hosting platform. Your prospect runs two-plus events per week, but you’ve noticed he doesn’t promote them beyond email. You might ask, “Have you considered advertising your webinars on Twitter? One of my clients doubled attendance with less than $500 of sponsored tweets.”

7) “Should I save a [seat, ticket] for you?”

My coworker received an email letting him know a webinar he may be interested in was nearly full. The salesperson asked if he’d like her to save him a seat.

Although my coworker wasn’t planning on attending, discovering how popular the webinar was changed his mind.

Use this question to incite the fear of missing out in your prospect. The offer doesn’t need to be about a webinar — you could ask if they’d like a spot saved in your organization’s networking event, online community, conference, workshop, and so on.

Once you’ve made the connection, you can learn more about the buyer’s needs and objections and craft an appropriate pitch.

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HubSpot CRM


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

The 16 Worst Sales Email Writing Mistakes

You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. And when that first impression is made via email, it’s even harder to come off the way you want to. Without the benefit of an in-person interaction, you can’t exactly build rapport or pivot your strategy if something you’re saying doesn’t resonate.So it’s imperative that you get that first email right. While you can’t control whether your email garners a response, you can control everything else — and you should.

If the core of your email is an insight or resource, think of your writing as the packaging. Even if you’re an expert, it’ll be hard to build credibility if your online communication is riddled with spelling and formatting errors. Below are the worst errors that’ll cause salespeople to embarrass themselves over email. Beware!

16 Sales Email Mistakes to Avoid at All Costs

1) Misusing “your” and “you’re”

They sound the same, but they certainly don’t mean the same thing. It’s easy to slip up, but asking your prospect, “Do you have any time on you’re calendar to chat tomorrow?” makes you look sloppy and unprofessional.

2) Misusing “there,” “their,” and “they’re”

Another common grammar mistake that makes it harder for you to be taken seriously.

3) Misusing “its” and “it’s”

The last member of the trio of frequently confused homophones.

4) Misspelling your prospect’s name or company

Maybe you were tired when you sent the email. Maybe your eyes were blurry from staring at the screen for too long. Guess what? Your prospect won’t care — they’ll think you haven’t done your research, are sloppy in your work, or flat out don’t care about accuracy. None of the above bode well for your ability to make the sale.

5) Misspelling your own company’s name

This isn’t nearly as insulting to a prospect since you’ve fumbled your own company, not theirs, but it still gives the sense that you just don’t care that much.

6) Mistyping your phone number

This is a mistake I made (and learned from) the hard way. My email signature contained my phone number, but I’d mistyped one digit. I got a frustrated email from a client a few days into his project demanding to know why I never picked up the phone.

If you’re going to provide a way for your prospects to get in touch, make sure it’s correct. If they actually take the initiative to call you, ensure it’s not a waste of their time.

7) Fumbling the date

Scheduling a meeting over email is enough of a pain. Asking your prospect for a meeting on “Thursday, November 16th” when November 16th is actually a Wednesday creates confusion and necessitates an additional two or three emails to correct the mistake. Make sure you’re referencing a calendar when including dates in your emails.

8) Not using paragraphs

If your email’s only two sentences long, this isn’t as much of a problem. But when you’re writing a long follow-up email or a recap of an important call, make sure you’re breaking the text up so it’s easy for your prospect to read.

9) Using inline lists instead of bullet points

To make your prospect’s job even easier, break out lists into easily scannable bulleted lists. Would you rather be asked if a meeting on “Monday at 3:00 p.m., Tuesday at 12:00 p.m., Tuesday at 1:45 p.m., Wednesday at 9:00 a.m., Wednesday at 4 p.m., or Thursday at 12:20 p.m.” works better for you, or receive this email:

Let me know if any of the below times work for you:

  • Monday at 3:00 p.m.

  • Tuesday at 12:00 p.m.

  • Tuesday at 1:45 p.m.

  • Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.

  • Wednesday at 4:00 p.m.

  • Thursday at 12:30 p.m.

You prefer the second option? Yep, me too.

10) Failing to format

In a real conversation, you can use body language, voice tone, and gestures to accentuate important points. But it’s harder to convey tone in emails, so if your email is longer than a paragraph and it contains information your prospect absolutely must read, bold or italicize it to make sure it catches their eye.

One caveat: Don’t go too crazy. An email where every other word is bolded or underlined is jarring to read and looks unprofessional.

11) Including too much information

You can use #10 above to gut check this point. If you’ve written 800 words, but only felt the need to bold one statement, take a moment to check whether you actually need to include everything you’ve written. Save your prospect as much time as possible by cutting right to the point — they’ll appreciate it.

12) Burying your ask

Sometimes, though, you will need to write a longer email. In this case, make sure to pull out your ask into its own line or paragraph so it’s not lost in the rest of the text.

13) Not including an ask

Whether it’s asking for 10 minutes to discuss resources you’ve just sent over or offering a product demonstration, every action you take should be designed to advance a prospect through the sales process if it’s a mutual good fit.

14) Asking too much

Of course, what you ask has to be reasonable. If it’s the first time you’re speaking with a prospect, it’s ridiculous to ask them what contract terms they’d be comfortable with. Tailor what you ask for to your prospect’s stage of the buyer’s journey.

15) Including broken links

Including a link or two in your sales emails is great when it’s applicable. You’re providing more content and an opportunity to click around your site and learn more about your product. Make sure those links are updated and work, especially if you’re using a template — if your prospect is actually interested enough to click through, make sure you’re giving them a good experience. Just as importantly, you’ll appear unprofessional and sloppy if you include links that don’t work.

16) Copying and pasting

Have you ever gotten an email where a single section is much smaller than the others or appears in a different font? If so, you know how distracting it is. This weird issue is caused by copying and pasting without removing the formatting.

To make sure this doesn’t happen with your emails, highlight any sections you’ve pasted and click the “Remove formatting” button in your email browser.

If you’re using Inbox or Gmail, you can also remove formatting by highlighting a section and pressing command + the backward slash key (). Outlook users, press control + space.

Writing good sales emails is an art and a science. Different subject lines and strategies will work better for different prospects and industries. But these are the building blocks of professional correspondence. Get your writing rock-solid so you can focus on selling.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2015 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and accuracy.

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Source: The 16 Worst Sales Email Writing Mistakes
blog.hubspot.com/sales

4 New Ways to Get Meetings With Executive Buyers

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The quickest way to get a deal over the finish line? Call high.

If you start at the bottom of an organization, you’ll need to identify a potential influencer, earn their trust, figure out their boss’s goals, and train them to advocate for you. Then, if everything goes right, you get to pitch to the decision maker.

So skipping the entire process and immediately connecting to the decision maker saves a lot of time. But that doesn’t mean it’s easier — because executives are extremely busy. They’ve trained themselves and/or their employees to rigorously defend their time.

If you want to win a slot on their calendar, you’ll need to think outside the box. Here are four ideas for calling high successfully.

1) Send a Customized Video

Executives get generic emails from salespeople all the time — but they rarely (if ever) receive videos. Take advantage of this medium’s novelty, and send them a short video.

Luckily, you don’t need a great camera, a creative team, or even any production chops. Just turn on your webcam, or ask a friend to film you with a smartphone. Alternatively, if you’d like to point something out on their website, use a free screencast tool like Loom to record your screen. 

That brings us to the script. What should you say? Try to add value in some way: Share an interesting and relevant fact, highlight an article they might like, offer to connect them with their equivalent at your own company, or talk about your experiences with their product.

This approach can also be used to gain access via the gatekeeper. Once you’ve identified who that is, do a bit of research to understand their background and primary responsibilities.

Then record a 30 to 45-second video following this general format:

  • Introduce yourself“Hi [gatekeeper’s name], I help companies in [space] see [X benefit].”
  • Explain why you’re contacting them: “It seems like you’re the best person to discuss [executive’s] schedule with.”
  • Foreshadow the benefit of meeting with you: “I think [executive] might be interested in learning about [ways to solve X, opportunities around Y].”
  • Defer to their influence in your call-to-action: “If you agree, I’m happy to provide more details. Please give me a call at 867-5309, or reply to this email.”

Gatekeepers tend to read more emails than their bosses, so this technique can be highly effective. 

Pro tip: Start the video holding a sign with your recipient’s name on it so they know they’re getting a custom video. Make sure this sign is visible in the video’s thumbnail.

2) Give Them Access to Your Early Product

Many executives have gotten to their current position because they’re technically adventurous. In other words, they’re curious about new products and enjoy trying them out.

Use this characteristic to your advantage. Instead of reaching out with a sales pitch, offer access to your beta product. To pique their curiosity, highlight how few of these invitations you’re extending.

Here’s a sample email:

Since you’re an expert in [topic] …

Hi [executive],

As [job title] at [company], I’d guess you have a lot of expertise in [product space]. I wanted to ask if you’d be interested in testing our beta — we’re looking for about [#] “power users” that can give us the best feedback.

The beta does X, Y, and Z.

I know you’re busy, but let me know if you’re interested. I’d really value your take.

Thanks,
[Your name]

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It might go without saying, but make sure you have the green light from your team to give beta access. Nothing would be more embarrassing than having an executive say yes — only to yank back the offer.

3) Help Them With Their Cause

Do some good while building a potentially lucrative relationship — find a cause an executive is passionate about, then email them asking if they could use your help.

Let’s break that down.

  • Step 1: Go to the executive’s LinkedIn profile. Scroll to the “Causes” and/or “Volunteer Experience” sections.
  • Step 2: Pick a program or nonprofit they’re currently involved in.
  • Step 3: Go to that program’s website. Are there any events happening near you? Are they running any fundraising campaigns?
  • Step 4: Think of a potential way to contribute. Your quickest option is posting a link to a fundraising or membership campaign on Twitter or LinkedIn, but you could also sign up to volunteer, attend an event, make a donation, etc.
  • Step 5: Email the executive to thank them or ask a question.

Here’s a template:

Contributing to [cause]

Hi [executive],

Just learned about [cause] via your [LinkedIn profile, bio, personal site]. I’m planning to [participate in X campaign, attend Y event, volunteer at Z location]. Thanks for turning me on to them!

What’s been your experience with the organization so far?

Best,
[Your name]

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The key is starting an organic relationship founded on something they care about — not guilting them into hearing your sales pitch. Let this connection grow naturally. Executives are usually eager to help people once they’ve earned a place in their circle.

4) Request Their Advice

For another method of winning their trust, solicit their feedback. Most people love to be considered a thought leader or insider, so they’re likely to say yes.

Here’s a general request for advice:

My top question around [topic]

Hi [executive],

There are so many things I could ask you about [their area of expertise], but I know you’re busy, so I’ll go with my top question:

[Insert question here].

I’d really appreciate getting your thoughts.

Thank you,
[Your name]

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If the executive lives in your area, consider asking for an in-person meeting. It’s easier to forge a connection over coffee than email, calls, or Skype.

Use this general format:

Your thoughts on [topic]

Hi [executive].

Would you be willing to meet for 25 minutes or so? Since you have a ton of expertise in [topic], I’m eager to get your thoughts on X. It would be so great to sit down briefly with you and talk.

Thank you,
[Your name]

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Again, don’t go into this thinking you’ll ask a few questions before launching into your value proposition. You’ll lose all goodwill. Wait until they ask you what you do and/or what you sell, give them a brief description, then see if they have any follow-up questions. If so, you have the green light to pitch.

These four ideas require creativity, time, and energy. But that means you’re probably one of few (if not the only) salespeople your prospect has met who’s not simply inundating them with emails and calls and hoping they’ll submit. You’ll stand out — and when the person who signs the check is impressed with you, business usually follows.

Source: 4 New Ways to Get Meetings With Executive Buyers
blog.hubspot.com/sales

Reps Who Are Afraid of This Won’t Last Long in Sales

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In the past four years, I’ve noticed an insidious trend in professional sales. It’s a misinterpretation of the term ‘social selling’: Salespeople cruise along doing non-selling tasks, occasionally researching, emailing, and grooming their social network … all while treating the phone like it’s covered with spiders.

The only thing that works in new business development, whether for inside sales or in the field, is the right combinations of effective activity … and lots of it!

Any sales floor that sounds like people are snoozing is in trouble. I was talking with someone last week who told me their company’s salespeople must book booths to make prospecting calls so they do not disturb others on the sales floor.

So many businesses and salespeople have confused ‘social selling’ with ‘social marketing.’ Social platforms certainly play an essential role for researching prospects and creating a strong personal brand that evidences insight and credibility. But selling is all about engaging the buyer in a meaningful two-way conversation, and the human voice is like nothing else for achieving just that.

If ‘outbound’ activities do not culminate in phone calls then the methodology for creating sales pipeline is just a recipe for failure.

Every sales person must personally ‘own’ and masterfully execute these three things if they are to succeed in high-value, or any form of business-to-business, selling:

  1. The right narrative
  2. The right combinations
  3. The right mindset

Let’s dive into each element individually.

1) A Compelling Value Proposition

The first significant prerequisite for elevating the way we sell is to create the right ‘value narrative.’ Instead of leading with who we are and what we do, we should instead lead with why a conversation should matter to the other person. We need to grab their interest with the worthwhile business or personal outcomes that we can help them achieve.

Precede each call with social marketing activities in the days or weeks prior. This gets you into your prospect’s orbit without any hard-selling.

2) A Successful Outreach Strategy

First thing in the morning, before the others arrive at the office, you’re hammering away with your outreach strategy:

  • Call their cell phone
  • If you don’t get a live voice on the other end, leave a voicemail. Make your message confident and to-the-point. Focus on the value they’ll derive from a conversation with you, and don’t mention your products or solutions.
  • Immediately send a LinkedIn InMail or connection request (with context)
  • Send them an email.

Spend two to three minutes per contact on your prepared list. Ideally, you’re working from your CRM or ‘dialing software,’ but a sheet of paper will do the trick. Never blame technology for your failure to drive the necessary level of intelligent activity required to achieve the success you need.

Here is a step-by-step guide on using these advanced techniques leveraging the power of Sales Navigator.

3) A Winning Mindset

You need the right mindset as well. Spend minimum of two hours every single day prospecting, or setting up conversations and meetings with potential clients. This daily activity is critical, regardless of how revenue you’re currently bringing in and how busy you are with existing clients. Before you go home each day, make sure you have your list of 30-50 calls to make first thing in the morning.

I cannot tell you how many salespeople I meet who just won’t accept responsibility for the creation of their own pipeline. Treat leads from your website, channel, marketing or inside sales team as a bonus. You must own your own success, fight for it, and work for it to be worthy of it.

Be your own SDR, and time-block two hours every day for proactive call prospecting.

The video interview below discusses where ‘social selling’ has gone wrong. Can you believe that one company is cited for removing phones from the sales area altogether? Complete lunacy in my view. On the other hand, no one should be making purely cold calls because ‘warming up a call’ is incredibly easy, thanks to tools such as LinkedIn and your CRM.

Build your personal brand in non-selling time. Use social media and LinkedIn to support your sales strategy, but don’t use it to hide like a coward from the phone. Come and join the conversation on April 4 in Sydney at the Sales Masterminds breakfast event and challenge me in Q&A if you disagree.

If you valued this article, please share via your Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook social media platforms. I encourage you to join the conversation, or ask questions so feel free to add a comment on this post. Please follow my LinkedIn post page for all my articles, and visit me at www.tonyhughes.com.au if you are looking for a keynote speaker. Go to www.RSVPselling.com for sales methodologies that generate pipeline and manage complex opportunities.

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on LinkedIn and is republished here with permission.

HubSpot CRM


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales

5 Strategies for Creating an Event That’ll Bring Deals Straight to Your Door

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There are two general strategies for keeping your sales pipeline full: You can do a little bit of work every day for a steady trickle of leads, or you can use a high-impact strategy to meet a lot of new prospects at once. The most successful salespeople combine both methods.

One of the most powerful ways to find a significant number of new clients at once is hosting an exclusive, private event. While it may sound like a lot of work at first, this doesn’t have to be complicated — and the payoff can be huge. Check out these five simple steps to creating an event that brings customers straight to your door, so you can crush your sales goals:

1) Choose a venue that feels exclusive

People love to be included in events that feel upscale. To give your event a high-end feel, choose your venue carefully. A country club, nice hotel, or tastefully decorated venue will pique the interest of high-level prospects and make them excited to attend. In addition, your own perceived value will rise — helping your prospects see you come across as a true expert before they meet you.

For more tips like this, check out the video below:

2) Invite both prospects and clients

When you get your top customers and your ideal prospects in the same room, magic happens. Your clients naturally talk about the results they’ve seen from your offering, essentially doing your selling for you. Testimonials are a powerful tool for closing more sales — and nothing is better than in-person, unprompted ones from your satisfied customers.

3) Seek out introductions

An upcoming event is the perfect opportunity to seek out introductions from everyone in your network. Ask family, friends, and current clients to introduce you to others who may want to attend, and encourage customers you invite to bring someone with them. People who are typically hesitant to share others’ contact information are often much more excited to introduce you when an invitation to an exclusive event is on the table.

4) Prepare to offer value

Add value to your event by sharing industry best practices. Your position as a salesperson gives you a bird’s eye view of what works and what doesn’t — and your prospects and customers are eager to learn what you know. For example, you could discuss the latest market trends and how the most successful companies have responded or the innovation you’ve observed in a particular business area.

This highlights your domain expertise and will help you set far more sales meetings.

5) Plan another event

Once you’ve hosted a successful exclusive event, your clients and prospects will see first-hand the value you have to offer. They’ll be eager to attend your next event — and invite even more people to join them. I personally host two of these events each year to keep that momentum going. This keeps your sales pipeline full year-round.

Have you ever hosted an exclusive event for customers and prospects? If so, what results did you see? If not, how will you use these tips to plan your first one? Share your experiences and plans in the comments below. Check out this free 9-Day Sales Intensive for more powerful strategies to transform your sales approach.

HubSpot CRM


Source: blog.hubspot.com/sales