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Prospecting is Not About Selling
By John Barrows | September 24, 2018

At least it’s not about selling your products or services. Can you sell your product or service in a 30-second pitch? Can you sell it in a one-page e-mail? I hope not. If you could your company wouldn’t need you. Prospecting is about selling the next step. It’s about selling time.

I’ll go old school here for a minute and talk about AIDA – the fundamental process of sales that was developed by St Elmo Lewis in 1898. He said there are four mental stages we all need to go through before we buy something. First, something needs to get our Attention. Next, we need to be Interested in it. Then we have to have a Desire for it and lastly, we need to move to Act. This is the framework we should use when crafting all outreach messaging, regardless of medium.

AIDA for emails

The subject line gets my attention, the first sentence tells me if I’m interested, the value prop creates my desire and the call to action gets me to act. This is why subject lines are so important because if they don’t get my attention then I’m not even going to read the e-mail. Then when I open the e-mail the first thing I read is going to tell me if I’m interested in reading more. And what is the number one thing everyone in the world is interested in? Themselves! This is why you need to start all your e-mails with something about them, not you.

Introductions that don’t get my attention include:

“I’d like to introduce myself to you”

“We’re the leading provider of”

“Recent surveys say…”

Start with some research you’ve done on me or a question that is relevant to my persona. After I’m interested, I need to want what you have which is why writing a short and strong value prop is critical. Don’t oversell it or say too much. Say something that gets me to want more. Talk about some results you’ve been able to drive for other clients like me. Then close it out with a strong call to action by being specific with what you want. Keep this whole e-mail to less than 2 scrolls on an iPhone and you have a chance at getting a response.

AIDA for Phone

The same holds true over the phone. Just like email subject lines, how you introduce yourself when someone picks up the phone either gets their attention or turns them off immediately.

Introductions that make me want to hang up:

“Hi, this is Jim from XYZ Consulting”

“Hi, how are you doing?”

An introduction I like to use to break up the typical pattern of a cold call: “Hi Sara, thanks for taking my call, do you have a few moments?”

A typical response I get: “Well, not really but who is this and what do you want?”

Now, you’ve given me permission to talk and indicated you are listening. I introduce myself and move right into the reason for my call.

“This is John with JBarrows Consulting. The reason for my call is I was on your website and noticed you’re hiring a bunch of SDRs and I wanted to talk with you about how you’re getting them ramped.”

Client response: “Well, what did you want to talk about?”

I come with my value prop to create desire and say something like:

“We’re working with other SDR leaders at companies like Salesforce and LinkedIn who use our prospecting training to give the reps the tools and techniques they need to drive immediate results out of boot camp…(and now here comes the action part)…and I was just looking to get about 10-15 minutes of your time to see if we could produce the same results for you.”

Keep that whole talk track to less than 30 seconds and you have a chance at getting them to talk with you.

AIDA for Presentations

Lastly, let’s go past prospecting to see how AIDA can be applied to presentations. Most corporate presentations have the exact same first three slides – company background, customer list and awards.

Reps start off their presentations by talking all about them and their company and it does nothing to get the audience’s attention. Instead start by talking about what you know about them and their business, or start with a bold statement about the state of the industry. Next, get them interested by sharing insights they might not know about or challenges others like them are trying to address. Move on to show a solution to the problem to get their desire up and close with what you want them to do.

Follow the AIDA frameworks when crafting your messaging and Make it Happen!

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