As our country works to climb out of the recession, sales in many industries have been sluggish at best. Many sales teams are struggling to get calls returned, and even when they get the opportunity to talk with a prospect, they often aren’t getting too far.
The uncertainties of the economy, coupled with the pandemic, are stalling many sales. How can marketing help keep the sales team in the running when the prospects are running cold?
One of the nuances of marketing that often gets overlooked is the “be interesting, not interested” maxim.
Our marketing efforts often make it clear that we are interested in the prospect. We want them to buy something from us. When we show up wearing that intention on our sleeve, it’s easy for them to tune us out, unsubscribe to our emails, or ask us to stop calling.
When sales are flowing more quickly, it’s easy for us to miss the consequences of that mistake. But when everything is stalled, we need to earn the right to keep talking to our prospects. The way we do that is by being interesting. It looks incredibly simple to do, and yet many marketers fail miserably.
Why? Because they are not patient enough. The “be interesting, not be interested” works because the prospect doesn’t feel any pressure. When someone isn’t ready to buy, the only way they’ll tolerate our continuing communication is if we’re interesting to them. The minute they feel like we’re trying to close the sale, they’ll walk away.
To be interesting, you need to:
Be helpful: This is the most effective and easiest way to be interesting. But it’s one that many marketers are leery of because they don’t want to give away their secret sauce. Smart marketers know that when they give away everything they know, it creates a connection that leads to a shorter sales cycle and a bigger sales total.
Going out of your way to create helpful content, be available to answer questions, or point your prospect to a resource they can use are all ways you can earn the right to stay in touch.
Know something the prospect does not: When someone knows something we don’t, we find that intriguing. This is where industry data, research, case studies, how-to blog posts, and insider information prove incredibly useful. If you keep serving up interesting tidbits that give them an edge, they’ll keep listening.
Make an introduction: Odds are many people within your organization have powerful connections and collaborators. Maybe they served on a board with an influential individual, or it’s a client you’ve had for years. But many of your prospects would greatly appreciate being connected with someone in the industry who could help their career or be valuable to their company.
When someone trusts us with one of their contacts, we know they’ve, in essence, called in a favor on our behalf. That creates a sense of gratitude and the need to reciprocate in some way in the recipient of the introduction. That’s a powerful connection that will serve you well as you work to maintain a relationship with the prospect.
The most significant danger to this strategy is our own impatience. With a reluctant prospect, we need to wait until they clearly indicate to us that they’re finally ready to hear about our product or service.
In a time when we can’t offer special pricing or some other incentive to speed up the sale, we just need to keep things interesting!
This was originally published in the Des Moines Business Record, as one of Drew’s weekly columns.