And there’s one big disadvantage of emails

In a Not-for-Profit Committee I chair we have been going through a dilemma about the best way to make sales.  Now I say sales deliberately, even though we are a Not-for-Profits (NFP) because to operate, like many NFPs, we need sponsors.  And getting sponsors means making a sale.  Making a sale is not so different from the dilemma we all face in business; making a sale requires persuading the prospect that there are genuine benefits to them, benefits which outweigh the cost.

In effect, we have to find their “Hot Buttons” and use them to help make a decision – to make a “buy” decision. 

But how do you get the leads in the first place? 

You need leads to talk to before you can find the hot button.  That’s the challenge when you are marketing for a NFP as well as a business.

There are some tools you will use in your business that apply equally here, and there are some tools you won’t.

But in the end, you have to make the sale, and that is what I want to discuss.  Recently I came across some interesting research you might find useful.  It applies just as much to most businesses as it does to NFPs.

First, let’s look at the tools you may use to generate leads for your business.  They include:

  • Emails - and I’m a fan of email marketing.  But first build your list!
  • Social media such a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
  • SEO etc on your website
  • Online funnels – offer something of value at a low price, then upsell to higher priced products
  • Networking (if your market is local)
  • Speaking at events
  • Direct mail – research to identify your targets, then write them a letter
  • Cold calling – which may require a telephone call to set up a meeting

The one we all hate the most is the last, cold calling.  Cold calling may require opening the door to make yourself known.  It may require making that telephone call.  It also requires an understanding of the urgency, consistency, follow up and repetitiveness of sales.  In my time with a farm machinery manufacturer, our sales team were adamant that success was dependent on the number of farm gates you opened.

Of course, you also had to have a clear understanding of the benefits of your product, and being able to articulate them, a sales conversation, but sales as they saw it, was a numbers game.

The first tool on this list will always be important.  You need to communicate regularly with your clients and prospective clients, and keep your brand front-of-mind with them.  There’s a real skill in drafting emails that sell, and in particular in crafting Subject Lines that will get your email opened.

Now I know you’ll worry that you will lose your list if you send “too many” emails.  Don’t – I addressed this fear in “How many emails are too many”. 

Research tells us that email marketing is still the number one way for businesses to communicate directly with customers.

But there’s one big disadvantage of emails; even if they get opened it is too easy for your prospect to defer consideration, to put it off, to procrastinate – “I’ll look at it tomorrow”.  But of course, as the old song said, “let’s forget about tomorrow, for tomorrow never comes”.

That’s why I found some research carried out in the US comparing the effectiveness of emails versus face-to-face requests to get people to donate to a cause.  Getting donations is also a sales process. 

Here are some of the findings:

  • Despite the reach of email, asking in person is the significantly more effective approach; you need to ask six people in person to equal the power of a 200-recipient email blast. Still, most people tend to think the email ask will be more effective.
  • Face-to-face requests were 34 times more effective than emailed ones.
  • People tend to overestimate the power of their persuasiveness via text-based communication, and underestimate the power of their persuasiveness via face-to-face communication.
  • In the studies, participants were highly attuned to their own trustworthiness and the legitimacy of the action they were asking others to take when they sent their emails. Anchored on this information, they failed to anticipate what the recipients of their emails were likely to see: an untrustworthy email asking them to click on a suspicious link.
  • The nonverbal cues requesters conveyed during a face-to-face interaction made all the difference in how people viewed the legitimacy of their requests, but requesters were oblivious to this fact.

From a business perspective, what can you learn from this? 

You are much more likely to get a positive result if you get in front of your prospect when asking for the sale.  For those of you who have been through a tendering workshop or webinar of mine will know I stress the importance of getting in front of the buyer calling the tender.  Nice to have this confirmed.

Having a planned “sales conversation” helps even more.  Some people see “selling” as being pushy, but without sales you don’t have a business. 

Salesmanship is a skill, a skill which can be developed.  It is not about pressure on the prospect.  It is about educating the customer. Without sales, you don’t have a business.

Here’s a link to the research:  https://hbr.org/2017/04/a-face-to-face-request-is-34-times-more-successful-than-an-email

Could your Sales Response be Improved?

There’s nothing like an outside view, a second opinion of your response to a Request for Quotation or Request for Tender.  Have you identified their Hot Buttons, and responded to them effectively?

Very often when we read something we’ve written, we read what we expect to see.  And miss the mistakes, or lack of logic, or lack of persuasiveness.  

I have an upcoming online course, TenderWins, a 4-week intensive course designed to help you win more tenders, without the stress and time issues that currently hold you back!

If you would like to discuss how this might help you,This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  There’s no cost for a consultation.  It is my gift to you.

Or buy "Small Change, Big Result", my manual on how to increase your success rate with proposals and quotations; make a few small changes, and reap the rewards.

© Copyright 2018 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective 

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