Here is what I’ve learned from our customers works best: Avoid asking for the appointment.

Instead, use the first message to spark curiosity. Provoke. Just enough to earn a short email discussion.

Then, structure conversation (via email) to create an another urge in the prospect... to ask you for the appointment.   

Sound crazy?  

I’ll even give you a template (below) to make it easy.

LinkedIn connections aren't working

Generally, connections are not effective as a 'first touch' strategy. Plus, they're risky. 

If your connection requests are not accepted by prospects often enough LinkedIn will remove your ability to make requests. This is just one of a long, growing list of reasons to not make your first attempt using a connection request.

Here's another: Once connected 97% of sellers I work with aren't getting response ... post-connection.

There are reasons why customers aren't replying.

"The big push on 'social' selling has turned a lot of SDR teams into 'send a LinkedIn invite then try to sell them 5 minutes after they accept.'"

Decision-makers are accepting fewer connections—because they are immediately spammed after accepting requests.

They've been trained (via their experience on LinkedIn) to expect spam. 

LinkedIn's interface encourages the active ignoring of personalized messages. Often sending false positives to sellers. Result: "They accept and then ignore me. Why would they do that?!" (because they never truly accepted based on your message)

Other than InMail, it is best to initiate contact off of LinkedIn first—then connect on LinkedIn to nurture the conversation forward.

This takes full advantage of what connections give you. (and avoids risk of being punished by LinkedIn)

Here's the short version. Being connected with prospects on LinkedIn is:

  • less effective for earning meetings or starting discussions
  • more effective at nurturing existing conversations and "early stage" relationships to closure

This is the piece of the puzzle you might be missing with LinkedIn. Success boils down to your ability to give prospects an irresistible reason to talk.

This is what we learn how to do in our next Spark Selling Academy Clinic this week (Thursday). Or a more serious 8-week Master Class and coaching. Join us. It's fun. We're a small group... so we keep it private, intimate. 

Asking for appointments kills response rate

Take it to the bank. My (and our students' collective) experience proves: You'll get more appointments set by not asking for them in the first email.

Because most buyers don’t (yet) realize they need to speak with you when you email them. PLUS, they're getting inundated with inbound emails from sellers—97% of them asking for meetings.

Your buyers may have a latent, festering pain that is not fully manifested. Or they do have a need (for a solution) but aren’t ready to buy yet... for any number of reasons. Example: they may not have assembled the decision-making team—yet.

Setting an appointment with a seller will happen—but not with you.

Because you asked for it (too early).

Do this first, instead

Getting more response and appointments will start happening for you. Follow my lead. But it will only happen when you help prospects feel curious about how you can help them solve a problem, relieve a pain, avoid a risk or fast-track a goal.

But be careful about playing on "pain points." This can backfire. Be careful: Don't make prospects feel vulnerable with your words. 

Beware of asking questions to prospects that make them feel vulnerable. Instead, make yourself vulnerable. (if you'd like to learn how join us in the Academy)

Here's the best way to make this a habit. Take a sticky-note and hang this on your wall... look at it daily as a reminder.

Write in ways to provoke buyers to inquire: "can you tell me more about what you just said ... more specifically?"

Using a provocation technique help discover when the prospect will be ready for an appointment. Or you might uncover who is on the decision-making team, or what stage of decision-making they’re in.

Creating the urge to speak

Instead of asking for the meeting, provoke a short discussion.

Big difference!   

Start by cutting your message way back. Be brief, blunt and basic. Read time must be less than 10 seconds.

Because buyers scan inboxes this way. They want to know:

- Who is emailing me? (is this SPAM?)
- What do they want?
- How long is this going to take?

By addressing this reality you’ll get noticed (opened) and responded to more often.

Also, avoid asking prospects to identify their need for you. It's not their job. Start by changing the goal: Help your decision-maker feel a desire to ask you for clarification or help. Provoke them.

An effective template (with a catch)

Here is an effective "Brief, Blunt & Basic" message template for you to try. Let me know how it works for you? This works for many of our students BUT for others it does not.

Beware. There is no one-size-fits all!

Look below... and see if you can identify the provocation formula. Consider how you might adapt it to fit your challenge. 

Subject: worth considering?

Based on my research, I believe St. James Hospital has an on-premises PBX investment, correct?

I have an idea for you. Not sure if it's a fit. Are you open to an unorthodox (but effective) way to improve average patient call wait times and abandoned calls?

Are you open to considering? Let me know, Steven?

See the mental triggers above? There are multiple!

See how the communication technique illustrated above is provocative? Do you understand why? I'll help you understand. You can apply a similar concept to your challenge.

Shoot me an email. I'll point out the triggers to you.

Learn more about "fitting" templates to your challenge. There are important differences between Tailored, Targeted and Templated techniques. We can show you (quickly) in our online Academy.

Want to know more about why triggers work sometimes, other times not? Just ask.

Remember, be creative. You cannot take the above template-able technique and apply it verbatim. But can you see how it is template-able? Email me with results this approach produces for you.

Do you have questions about making provocation techniques “come alive” for you ... or your sales team? Let me know!

In 1999, I co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc. where I helped secure 2 rounds of funding and built the sales team. I've been selling for over 2 decades.

After this stint, I returned to what was then Molander & Associates Inc. In recent years we re-branded to Communications Edge Inc., a member-driven laboratory of sorts. We study, invent and test better ways to communicate -- specializing in serving sales and marketing professionals.

I'm a coach and creator of the Spark Selling™ communication methodology—a curiosity-driven way to start and advance conversations. When I'm not working you'll find me hiking, fishing, gardening and investing time in my family.

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