Bringing Creativity to Sales

Think of the fastest “No” responses that come out of your mouth without even thinking about it.

Is it when your young child begs for every sweet treat at the grocery store? Or when you answer the phone and a stranger tells you that you have just won a contest you never entered? Or when you receive a political campaign call?

We all have a knee jerk response in these situations.

We shut down. We automatically say “No.”

Many times in sales we face a fast, knee-jerk “No” when prospecting for new or expanded business. If we don’t reach a prospect live, the “No” can be in the form of unreturned calls and/or emails. How do we get beyond this initial reaction or lack of reaction?

Consider these statistics-In 2007 it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes an average of 8 attempts or more! In working with sales teams across a range of industries, I’m seeing a real lack of creativity in these attempts.

Sales is still old school (relationships) with new school technologies to make it easier. The secret to sales success is not giving up too soon and getting creative! Here are some ideas for thinking outside the box:

1.  Leave voicemail messages with a purpose.

Calling someone on the phone is still one of the best ways to connect. Because everyone is looking for the magic to gain appointments without using the phone, you might be surprised at how many decision makers are answering the phone because they are not getting the volume they used to. If they don’t pick up, don’t hesitate to leave a short and direct voicemail. When it comes to current customers, whatever you do, avoid saying you are  “Just checking in” or “Just following up.” This is sales suicide.  Instead try, “I was thinking about our last meeting and had an idea I wanted to bounce off you…”

2.   Congratulate or compliment a connection on LinkedIn.

With so much negativity in the world, a positive comment has more weight than ever. Once you are connected, a great way to utilize LinkedIn is giving someone kudos on something they recently

accomplished. In addition to commenting on their post, send an InMail to reinforce the congratulations. However, whether it is through InMail or a comment make it meaningful. Don’t just say “Nice job!” Put some thought into it. You could also acknowledge a newsworthy event at their company. Either one could open the door to a better business relationship down the road.

On the subject of LinkedIn, make sure you do not connect and then forget! We connect with someone and then it goes into the black hole. They never hear from us again. Instead, start a conversation. Find out how they found you and give them some information that could be helpful to them (an interesting article, a link that is helpful, etc.) but nothing salesy!

3.   Take advantage of good old-fashioned snail mail. 

The art of the hand written note is a lost art! Whether your sales process is by phone, in person, or via email, sending a hand written note gives you a competitive advantage. Remember the statistics… today it is taking more touch points to gain success. Your snail mail delivery does count as a touch point. Every little bit helps. Think about it, when was the last time you got a hand written note?

One additional tip on snail mail-For prospects who fall into the black hole and are not calling you back, try sending something totally unexpected to them. I have a friend in Maryland who sends Old Bay Seasoning and comments about spicing things up. Find something unique to your hometown and get creative!

The question to ask yourself: “Is there anything I could send with a catchy phrase that would grab their attention?” Sometimes the quirkier the better!

4.   Get the cameras rolling for a truly unique touch point.

Video can be your friend! It’s an underutilized technology. Remember, sales are still old school (relationships) with new school technologies. There are lots of free resources available for creating and sending video messages. Think about how personalized your sales message can be-your voice, your smile, your enthusiasm for what you are selling will come through and possibly make all the difference. Grab their attention and shut down that knee-jerk “No!”

5.    Send very short, well-timed professional emails.

Emails can be effective touch points, but only if they are concise and purpose-driven. Peoples’ inboxes are extremely cluttered. If the purpose of your email is to ask for an appointment, limit your email to one paragraph with a clear purpose and then give two time options for the requested meeting. Also, once you secure a meeting, include agenda items for discussion in your calendar invite. When the purpose is clearly spelled out, it reduces the number of cancelled and rescheduled meetings.

There it is. Can you add some good ideas to this list? Remember, don’t give up too quickly. Back to the grocery store example-kids are amazing at being passionately persistent and at times they can be very successful. (Darn those candy bars at checkout.) Step out of your comfort zone…get more creative and persistent…and enjoy increased success. Good selling out there!