Fading into the background is not going to help you attract new customers or prospects. Don't just blend in with your competitors; step out, take a risk, and get noticed!
In a recent individual sales coaching session, my client was lamenting her inability to grab the attention of a particular prospect. She described the many letters she had sent and the information contained in the letters.
Essentially her letters were lists of all the services (features) offered by the company and concluded with a tepid, "I will call to follow up." The letter could easily have been written by any of her competitors. She sent it out in a white envelope. It was not surprising that her prospect had not responded.
While I generally recommend against sending letters before a prospecting call, if you are sending a letter, you must make it interesting. If your letter could be written by any of your competition, there is nothing to differentiate you from your competition. This rule applies for crafting your telephone prospecting script as well. If you say the same things that your competition says, you will be perceived to be the same as your competition.
Another important facet of letter writing is getting your letter opened. Thousands of books have been written on this subject. If the prospect does not open your envelope, they will not read your letter.
I mentioned to my client that all correspondence from my office goes out in purple envelopes. And prospects notice! I'd like to be able to tell you that I knew to use purple envelopes because I am a marketing genius. The reality is, I accessorize.
When my first book, Cold Calling for Women came out I sent out hundreds of review copies with media kits. The cover of Cold Calling for Women is deep purple and hot pink. Clearly, I needed deep purple folders for the media kits and then, just as clearly, I needed a purple envelope to complete the ensemble. (It annoys me if my nail polish and lipstick don't match.)
I called every reviewer to say that I was sending a review copy of the book in a purple envelope. Then I sent the review copy and media kit in the purple envelope. After that, I would call to confirm that the reviewer had received it. An amazing thing happened. Reviewers receive thousands of books every week, yet every reviewer with whom I spoke knew exactly what book I was referring to.
Since that time, I have continued to use purple envelopes, for correspondence, for contracts, for media kits. it doesn't matter. Prospects always know which package is mine, because it's in a purple envelope.
My client, however, was horrified. "No, no, no," she said. "Our clients are staid and conservative. It's an 'old boy's network.'"
I found this to be an amazing statement, since there is no way my client, "Sally," would ever fit into an "old boy's network" no matter what she did. There's a demoralizing goal: Trying desperately to fit into and be part of a group that will never accept you.
I said to Sally, "At this moment in time, you already do not have that prospect as a client. The prospect has ignored every attempt that you have made to contact them. There is no risk here. You have nothing to lose. It's time to do something different. In order to be noticed you must do something noticeable."
My first advice to Sally then was to stop sending letters and try to reach the prospect directly by telephone. (Making sure that she had first crafted a compelling script.) When asked by the secretary, "What is this in reference to?" Sally could truthfully say, "We've had correspondence."
If the direct telephone approach didn't work then Sally's next option might be to try another letter. But in this case she would need a compelling, interesting, benefit-centered letter. She would also need a mechanism (purple envelope or something else) to ensure the letter being opened.
But there is a bigger issue here: So many people are afraid to take risks, to try something different or to be a little different. The difference can be minor; like purple envelopes or it can be conceptual as in the way you speak about what you do. But whatever that difference is, don't be afraid to embrace it and use it to your advantage.
The status quo is the sales professional's biggest enemy. If your prospects do not perceive a difference between what you have to offer and what their current vendor offers, you will not get the business. You must make that difference visible in ways great and small. That means doing, being, showing difference.
Copyright 2006 Wendy Weiss