If there’s one ability necessary to begin creating an environment in which the people best suited to doing business with you have an opportunity to do so, it’s not bonding, it’s not rapport-building and it’s not schmoozing. It all starts with awareness. Simply letting people know you’re alive.
One of the biggest issues that I’ve always had with so much of the common, boilerplate sales training that takes place in the world is that so much of it starts in the middle.
Even people who are highly successful at sales, and those who have earned a whole lot of money training salespeople how to do things better, often skip the critical first steps that actually allow a salesperson to bond, establish rapport and begin creating value for a prospect in the first place.
In my Sledgehammer Marketing training, I refer to this step as moving from obscurity to recognition, that is, moving from “I have absolutely no idea who you are” to “Oh, okay, I know you. I might not love you. I might not hate you, but I do know you exist.”
Until you’ve created an even bare-bones level of recognition with your target market, it’s very difficult to establish rapport. And those who like to lead with a cold-call, and essentially jump the line, trying to move from total obscurity to recognition, to bonding and rapport all in one (often uncomfortable and stressful) conversation, can do themselves far more harm than good, because of the way such a first contact positions them. It essentially says, “I value your time and mine so little, that I think I’ll just call you out of the blue.”
That’s not to say it doesn’t work sometimes. And it doesn’t mean a person’s intentions are bad when they take this approach. Very often cold-callers truly believe they can help the prospect. That’s why they’re calling them in the first place. But their approach can easily put off even the most highly qualified prospects right out of the gate and prevent them from ever doing business together.
But my purpose today is not to talk about cold calling. It’s to talk about creating awareness among your target market.
First, awareness that you’re alive, awareness that you exist, awareness that you’re even an option for them.
Before any bonding and rapport can happen, some level of awareness of your existence has to have taken place.
Most salespeople know that a warm referral is probably ten to one hundred times more likely to have a positive outcome than a total cold-call to a stranger. That’s because the initial awareness — that first contact — was initiated in a way that the prospect interprets as positive. Someone they trust recommended you. For that reason, you start out with a level of credibility that a cold-caller is never likely to reach.
But we can’t always count on referrals alone to grow our businesses, because it’s often just too reactive. What if no one decides to refer us this week… or next? Does that mean we have no new leads?
Creating awareness is not a one-time thing. It’s an “all the time” thing.
This means that if you’re not doing something, today, to create awareness of yourself, your business, your capability or your ability to help someone, you’re falling behind.
Social media can be great for creating awareness of yourself — in positive ways or negative, depending on what you’re posting — but like cold-calling or referrals, it’s just one method.
Salespeople and business owners who are serious about creating awareness of themselves, should never limit themselves to one form of awareness-creation or first contact. Because the truth is, we don’t always know how a prospect will first become aware of us.
Was it a direct mailing we sent them with a promotional gift enclosed? Was it a referral from a friends or colleague? Was it a cold-call? Or was it a drunken 2 am tweet?
Needless to say, your first contact with a prospect can make all the difference in the world!
Everything you put out into the market has the ability to create a first impression with a new prospect. So ask yourself this:
1. Am I putting out high quality content that positions me well with people? Is it interesting enough that they might want to continue to hear what I have to say?
2. Am I putting out enough of it? Am I reaching my market on regular basis, so they get used to hearing from me?
3. Am I reaching the right people? Because all my great strategy and positioning is kind of worthless if I’m not reaching people who can use and pay for the products and services I offer, or to introduce me to someone who can.
Naturally, I’m talking about business here. There are many people we may want to interact with on a daily basis who have no need for our products and services — friends, family, loved ones. But even in those cases, the same rules apply. High quality content, put out consistently to the right people.
It’s hard to go wrong with a strategy like that.