(4 Minute Read)
We are always in search of an “ah-ha” moment — the type of moments where the proverbial light bulb goes off, and everything finally clicks. I was lucky enough to walk away from HLTH 2019 in Las Vegas with such a moment. But before we get into the key takeaway, let me back up and describe how I got to this revelation (it is about the journey and not the destination, right?).
My bags were packed; suits picked out, business cards at the ready, I was prepared to take HLTH by storm. In the weeks leading up to the conference, I had been absorbing every piece of business development content that I could. So what if my emails and LinkedIn messages were not getting the responses I desired? HLTH was going to be my grand debut.
I had the opportunity to sit in on a panel discussing how to break into large companies and actually get your pitch heard. From the start, I was blown away by the level of transparency and honesty from the panel. It was like their talking points were directed right at me. Even though I had so many questions, I sat on my hands, either from the fear of monopolizing the panel’s time, or the fear of being exposed as not the lethal salesman that I had attempted to portray myself as. By keeping quiet, it seemed more and more a particular member of the panel was talking directly to me almost as if they could sense I was bursting at the seams with questions. The session ended, and I left, but the questions stayed with me.
So not too long after I returned home from Las Vegas, I gathered my thoughts, mustered up some courage, and used the tips that one of the panelists gave, and I email them personally. Not only did they respond, but they dropped a ton of info on me and completely changed my approach when having those “sales” talks.
KNOW WHO YOU ARE SELLING TO
Not just the company but the person. This does't mean to be creepy and stalk them on Facebook/Instagram in order to learn every detail of their life before engaging with them. Do your research though, and pay attention to who this person is and what they care about. Maybe you see they went to a rival school, or they consistently post about certain topics that they're passionate about. Use that info and make a real and personal connection with them. One of the best connections I ever made was with a VP of a health firm over our shared love of all things Disney.
CLEAR AND CONCISE COMMUNICATIONSpeaking of connecting- be clear and concise. Who are you, what problem can you solve and then, of course, how are you going to solve it for them. Nobody wants to read a 3 page email introducing yourself. The person you are trying to connect with has seen the same long generic email multiple times already today. What sets you apart as worthy of their time and attention? What makes your company special?
BE PATIENTAre you busy? Of course you are! The person you are trying to connect with is probably even busier, so respect their time and don’t assume they have time on their calendar for the infamous “let’s get together in the next week for a quick chat.” Also, don't expect that your first email will garner a response. Networking is a long game that requires patience.
KEEP BEING PATIENTDid I say be patient? That also goes for connecting on LinkedIn. We all know why we connect on LinkedIn, and selling or getting sold to comes with the territory... but show some restraint. Just because the Director of department “X” accepts your connection, it does not mean you should jump right into your pitch. Give them some time to organically see who you are and what your company can offer before pitching to them directly.
Include some collateral. Whether it's a small slide deck or a one-sheet that explains who you are, include it. It will probably do a better job of explaining who your company is and what you are selling.
Also, your marketing team worked really hard on those materials, so show them off! There is a lot of time and thought that went into crafting the perfect message in your collateral, so let it do its job. (My marketing team is going to love this)
All of these takeaways were eye-opening, not only because of their unprecedented honesty but because they are all things most of us in sales are guilty of. All of us say we hate being sold to, but we fall in the trap of doing the same things and wonder why we are not breaking through to the right decision-makers.
All of this led to my biggest takeaway and changing how I will approach sales from now on. Make it personal.
Be yourself, connect with your client. They are humans and have the same aversions to sales tactics as you do. Why did my email get answered in the first place? I was personable. I was sincere. I connected.
Going forward, I am doing away with templates. Will this give me more work and make my day to day a little tighter? Yes. Will I get better results? Also, Yes. All the template is doing is throwing hollow words out to your potential targets. These same words and phrases are already flooding their inbox, so by using that generic template, your email will get lumped together with everyone else vying for that person's valuable time. When you send a generic email instead of taking the time to make a personal connection, you send the message that they are not worth your time. If you want your message to get through, then you need to find a way to connect and distinguish yourself from everyone else.
There you have it. Essentially be yourself! Now is this groundbreaking advice? Not really, but when it’s coming from your target audience, you better pay attention!
Have my sales increased since putting more of myself into my sales approach and making it more personal? YES! My sales have increased, but more importantly, I am also getting more, “No’s.” Instead of sending emails into the ether, people are actually engaging with me and responding to my emails. So, I don't mind when someone responds and says "No" because all good salespeople know that "No" is where the real fun starts.
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