Edition: November 2008 - Vol 16 Number 11
Author: Brian Sullivan
What is the first thing you do (OK, second thing) when you get up in the morning? If you said, "Check voicemail and e-mail," then you are like the more than 34 million other salespeople and sales managers in the United States who have made e-mail and voicemail the principle way to communicate with colleagues and customers. Just because you are using the same form of communication, doesn't mean that your communication has to look, act, sound and smell exactly the same. In fact, you need to try harder than ever to use those tools to differentiate yourself from the competition.
For example, does your voicemail greeting sound something like this?
"Hi, you've reached the voicemail of _______, I can't take your call right now, but if you would like to leave your name, number and a brief message, I will be sure to return your call as soon as I can. Have a great day."
Perhaps your greeting sounds exactly like that. Guess what? Your competition's greeting probably sounds the same. An unoriginal voicemail greeting is only one example of how alike everyone has become. Why expect different or even better results than your competition while you look, act, and sound exactly like them? Truth is, if you are to stand out in your marketplace, you have to be original in nearly every aspect of your business. To do this, you need to study your competition, understand what they are doing, and NOT be like them.
So this week, start with voicemail as your tool to originality. To do so, create a voicemail greeting that gets a reaction from the person that is calling you. Two ways to do this are by:
For example, if you sell a product that is fast and saves your customers a ton of time, you might say:
"Hi, sorry I can't take your call right now. I am probably with a client right now showing how our latest product can save them 60 minutes each day. When I call you back shortly, let me know if you would like to see if we could do the same for you."
If you get 10 voicemails from potential customers that day, at least two will ask you about your voicemail and that wacky time-saving product. By doing so, they have invited you to give them more information about your solution. That means opportunity.
Creating happiness, a chuckle or even laughter
Everyone can all use a little jolt during the day. So give your callers a little emotional caffeine in your greeting. One way to do this is by sharing a ridiculous trivia fact like:
"Did you know that every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming 1/10 of a calorie. Check back next week for more stupid trivia."
Now might that be a little goofy? Sure, but so what! It's original and you will get noticed. And those that get noticed most in business are the ones who get more business!
The next electronic tool to originality is e-mail. If you want people to take notice of the message in your e-mail, your e-mail needs to grab their attention quickly. This means the same rules that apply to voicemail, also apply to e-mail. To do this:
Create curiosity and credibility
One of the best ways to create curiosity and credibility is with a headline or a testimonial quote. For instance, if your product or company just received PR stating how great you are, create a headline that makes them want to read the rest of your e-mail. Think about it. Which articles do you read when you pick up the paper? Exactly … the ones with the interesting headline! If you don't have any PR to use, but do have happy customers, ask them to tell you why they do business with you and exactly what tangible benefits have they found. After they give you a quote, ask their permission to use that in your marketing materials. Then use that quote to begin the body of your e-mail. For instance, it might look like this:
"We have found that since switching to ABC Supply, we have increased our efficiency by 14 percent, decreased our expenses by 12 percent and received the support that will make us customers for life." - Joe H. (Happy) Customer
Now if a potential prospect opens your e-mail and first sees a testimonial with specific tangible benefits like that, do you think they will read the rest of your e-mail? Of course!
Create a positive emotion with e-mail images
When meeting prospects, look for something you have in common, and in your next follow-up e-mail cut and paste an electronic image that will stir in them some emotion. For instance, one salesperson recently wanted his customer to know just how super he thought the account was. He went to an online stock photo company (like Dreamstime.com), typed in Super Bowl, found a picture of two Super Bowl tickets, downloaded it, then cut and paste it in the body of his e-mail with a note saying.
"Dear John, I just want to drop you a note to tell you what SUPER customers you have been. I DON'T have Super Bowl tickets, but if I did, you and I would be sitting at the 50-yard line!"
Try this in your next e-mail. It will take a three minute investment in time and perhaps a $1 investment in the image. But be assured, when your images create a smile, a chuckle, curled lip or maybe just some raised eye-brows, you have created an emotional connection. And as a timeless sales adage goes, "People make buying decisions emotionally and defend them logically." So add some emotion to the e-mails, and then try to contain your emotions when the sales start pouring in!
Most people, even after reading this article, will still choose not to create original voicemail greetings or creative image e-mails because it feels a little awkward. But don't let that stop you. Because that strange feeling you get while being original is called adrenaline. And adrenaline is a gift from God to your body to remind it that it is still alive. And once your body becomes comfortable in a career defined by originality, you better prepare yourself to become comfortable in success. See you at the TOP!
Sales Coach and Business Consultant Brian Sullivan, CSP, is the author of the book, "20 Days to the TOP - How the PRECISE Selling Formula Will Make You Your Company's Top Sales Performer in 20 Days or Less." President of Kansas City-based PRECISE Selling, he delivers seminars and internet training programs on sales, customer service, leadership and presentation skills to companies of all sizes. He also hosts the radio talk show Entrepreneurial Moments, a show dedicated to personal and business development. To find out more, visit him at www.preciseselling.com or e-mail Brian at email@example.com.