So first of all, let’s take a look at Peter’s email pitch:
Please forgive the direct approach. My name is Peter and I work for (company name withheld) as a Marketing Consultant in your market sector. I have been looking at your website today and would like a few minutes of your time to have an informal chat with you.
I really like the site, but you may be curious as to why the site isn’t ranking, and with that in mind I wondered if you would like a free SEO audit of the site looking at keyword density and a detailed analysis of the back link profile.
That should give you an excellent insight, and hopefully allow us to develop a plan for getting the site into some top positions.
The audit is FREE and with no obligation. So do please get in touch.
PS. I know you must get lots of contacts like this, but I promise I am a real person based in our Birmingham office, and overall we are UK based staff serving numerous UK & International clients. More details of what we do below on (website withheld) or call us directly on the numbers below, Thanks
Let’s dissect Peter’s approach.
I’m not a huge fan of cold email approaches to start with but there are some even bigger problems at play here.
Sales Failure Lesson No 1 – Lack Of Personalisation
Here’s where Peter fails he starts the email with just “Hi” – with no name after it – even though he’s emailed me personally.
In addition he says in the first paragraph that he works as a Marketing Consultant in “your market sector” – again it wouldn’t take a lot of personalising to have a much better impact, but Peter fails again here too!
If you’re making any kind of sales approach, whether that’s via email, phone or any other method you have to personalise your communication, otherwise the other person will lose interest quickly.
In addition, lack of personalisation means that the prospect doesn’t feel valued and that they’re just one of a number of people you’re emailing, or just another number on the list that you’re calling.
One of the key things that prospects want at the start of any sales approach is relevancy. In other words, why is this relevant to me now, and why should I consider it important and give my time and attention to it? Fail this part, and your sales approach could be over before it’s even started!
Sales Failure Lesson No 2 – Stop Apologising For Selling
Here’s where Peter fails – he says “please forgive the direct approach”.
Peter manages to hit on one of my personal bugbears here! In my opinion, no-one should need to apologise for being in sales and no-one should need to apologise for just doing their job.
This problem stems from a lack of confidence and an expectation of getting a negative response to the sales approach, so therefore the salesperson thinks if they apologise first, it makes everything better!
In actual fact, it often has the opposite effect, and actually makes things worse.
Apologising, or asking permission actually lowers your credibility in front of senior decision makers, and authoritative prospects. It can make them think you’re not confident in what you do, and therefore transfers a lack of confidence to them in you, your company and your products and services – plus it makes them think you’re someone at a junior level.
Sales Failure Lesson No 3 – Stop Telling Lies
Here’s where Peter fails he says “I really like the site, but you may be curious as to why the site isn’t ranking”.
Actually, my site ranks very well the search terms I want – so that now causes Peter a credibility problem. Either he doesn’t know the key words I’m optimising for, or he lied when he said it isn’t ranking and hasn’t really done any research into it whatsoever.
Either way, his credibility is now shot, and the likelihood of me believing anything else he says, or listening to his ideas is pretty much zero. This mistake alone could be enough for prospects to decide NOT to do business with him.
Outright lies or lack of research definitely don’t help your sales calls. Make sure you don’t fall into the same trap…
Sales Failure Lesson No 4 – Stop Confusing People
Here’s where Peter fails he says: “I wondered if you would like a free SEO audit of the site looking at keyword density and a detailed analysis of the back link profile”.
Now let’s move past the fact he’s making a free offer and look at the words he’s used. “Keyword density” and “detailed analysis of the back link profile”. Now although I know what they mean, most decision makers, especially those in small businesses, wouldn’t!
Therefore he’s confused his target prospects before he’s even started! People don’t buy when they’re confused. All you do is make them retreat and potentially either decide not to go ahead with whatever purchase or offer they’re considering, or worst-case, go to one of your competitors that doesn’t make them feel confused and stupid.
You need to use language that’s simple to understand. Language that prospects can know exactly what you mean, and make sure you stay away from technical, high-level or company-specific language or acronyms. This has the effect of either confusing the prospect, or making them feel left out – as if they don’t understand your terminology, they will feel excluded from the discussion and therefore probably not buy!
Sales Failure Lesson No 5 – Make Sure You Don’t Lose Control!
Here’s where Peter fails – he says “The audit is FREE and with no obligation. So do please get in touch”.
Here’s the problem. Peter’s handing control over to the prospect with the phrase “do please get in touch” – hardly a call to action. No compelling event, no mention of him calling me, no commitment gained whatsoever, so therefore has no control over whether I call him back or not. The bigger problem is the “no obligation” bit. Well done Peter, you’ve hit on another of my personal bugbears here. In my opinion, OF COURSE THERE SHOULD BE OBLIGATION. It’s simply good negotiating to follow the influence pattern if I do this for you, I want you to do this for me.
The whole idea of doing the free SEO audit IS to make the prospect feel obligated to you, isn’t it? So why lie again here and say that it isn’t? This will just cause credibility issues once again.
No obligation is simply another phrase that is over-used by people that have confidence issues with selling. Those people would be far more effective at selling if they were proud of what they sell, confident in their own abilities and wanted to get obligation and commitment from people. That would definitely result in higher sales figures.
In summary you can see that with all the areas that Peter has made mistakes in that have led to his sales failure. Think about them when you’re conducting your own new business sales efforts, whether that’s over the phone, face-to-face, or online. Then think about what you can do to improve them.
Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing how you get on.