3 Ways to Agilely Target Prospecting Messages for Customers
Agile Sales Professional Use Sprints to Target, Message, and Engage Prospects
Communication that compels action from prospects means speaking to the customer’s top-of-mind needs. Successful sales professionals do so with an iterative approach built for speed. Sales professionals need to “message the moment.” They need to create prospecting communication that demonstrates that they get the customer and have a solution that is relevant. This goal is not new, but the challenges surrounding it are because changes to the prospect’s business now occur daily, and even hourly. These changes are sometimes unexpected even to the stakeholders.
Accelerated change means that prospecting must embrace the dynamic nature of the customer’s world. To do so, sales professionals must become agile in their approach to prospecting. Moreover, they need agility that works. This means bringing the term down from its lofty, theoretical heights and into the everyday conversations that happen on the ground level. Developing this actionable agility means adopting a sprint pattern.
A sprint is a burst of activity that revolves around key moments of conversation with the customer. Each sprint should result in a mini close. Sprints follow a prepare – engage – advance pattern. Each of these three parts integrate specific techniques, skills, and tools to progress each interaction. Richardson Sales Performance’s Sprint Prospecting works because it is a process-driven method for developing agility that quickly gets to the core of the customer’s needs and communicates messaging accordingly.
Here we explain the specific actions that occur within each part of the prepare – engage – advance model and how they add up to a single strategy for keeping pace with customer changes so that prospecting outreach resonates.
Build Acumen That Rises Above Everyday Insights
Sales professionals need a level of acumen that enables them to speak to the prospect’s core needs and challenges. Prospects don’t want to be sold to or prospected to, but they do want to be engaged, and engagement comes from addressing what is unique to their setting. Developing a deeper understanding of the prospect’s challenges is a frontloaded task but this extra work yields more long-term revenue. As the outreach becomes more salient, more prospects are likely to travel the full length of the pipeline.
Building acumen differentiates the sales professional by enabling them to:
- Communicate competency: When a sales professional develops a precise understanding of the prospect’s world, they are showing them that they not only understand what is important to the customer but that they can research, learn, and articulate the new characteristics of the prospect’s business. Tracking, and understanding the fast-moving change occurring in another business requires considerable skill. Therefore, demonstrating this capability is an early way to build credibility.
- Put prospects first: Much like a good listener mirrors the person speaking, strong acumen demonstrates that the sales professional is attuned to what is important to the prospect. A lot of traditional prospecting aims to draw attention to the product or service or the successes of those selling them. When the sales professional proves that they understand the current state of the prospect’s business they are making it clear that they put the customer first.
- Position a partnership: Acumen is what narrows the distance between the sales professional and the prospect. Both sides become aligned to the same challenge when the sales professional knows the prospect’s world. If the sales professional is going to convince anyone that they have the solution, they must first convince them that they truly understand the problem. When the prospect knows that they are talking to someone who gets it, the relationship becomes collaborative rather than transactional.
There are several tactics sales professionals can employ to achieve this acumen and the rewards that come from the effort, these tactics include:
- Exploring the prospect’s social “footprint” which reveals the prospect’s direction
- Sharing relevant content and insights that invite responses and are searchable
- Developing a research cadence and protecting that time
- Researching the prospect’s digital transformation initiatives
- Understanding how the prospect’s business overlaps different non-core industries
- Talking with existing contacts in the same, or similar industries
Engage with Structured Messaging that Gains Interest
Drafting engaging communication means being brief and being brief means sticking to a structure. With structured messaging, the sales professional prevents falling into the trap of becoming longwinded. The structure is also what enables Sprint Prospecting to work at scale because it offers a repeatable method for drafting different messages for different prospects. By committing to a structure, the sales professional develops critical thinking that repeatedly asks them to make clear and concise connections between the customer’s challenge and the value the sales professional can provide.
Taking a structured approach to messaging gains the customer’s trust by:
- Delivering relevance early: Sales professionals need to draft messaging that makes clear their understanding of the prospect’s challenges. Doing so illustrates that the sales professional is prepared to offer insights and ultimately a solution that addresses the specific issues within the prospect’s world. Relevance is what prevents the prospect from feeling that they’re being sold to. When the conversation has this kind of customer-centricity trust develops. This progression is critical because trust underpins every sale.
- Making the meaning measurable: Making the meaning measurable means drafting messaging that offers quantifiable results. For example, some sales professionals may choose to draft their messaging around a customer success story format. With this approach, the messaging cites a previous success with a customer within the same industry. Here, the messaging flows from articulating the situation to the critical business issue, to the underlying reasons for those issues, to the capabilities needed, and finally the quantifiable outcome that solved the challenge.
- Inviting action: One major goal of prospecting is to start and maintain a dialogue. A message that invites some kind of action is more likely to spark conversation. What separates effective prospecting from ineffective prospecting is how the sales professional invites action. Asking the prospect to provide detailed, non-public information at this stage will likely prevent any further communication. In contrast, a sales professional is more likely to prompt a conversation if they ask how a new development within the prospect’s industry will impact their business.
Some best practices to keep in mind when drafting relevant messaging include:
- Drafting messaging that suggests how the solution has helped the prospect’s peers
- Offering evidence of tangible value
- Keeping the phrasing concise
- Choosing the best format: value statement, customer success story, or value proposition
- Personalizing the first lines of the message directly to the prospect
- Focusing on the solution capabilities that are both most relevant and differentiated
For more information on how to simplify your messaging download the brief: Four Ways to be More Concise in Messaging
Advance the Conversation with New Information Learned
Sprint Prospecting is agile because it is a framework designed to benefit from new information from the customer which equips the sales professional to deliver value in the next message. Each “sprint” is propelled by a new insight. As the sales professional incorporates new information learned into their pursuit they become more customer-centric. Each customer conversation arms the sales professional with the knowledge needed to assess the next best move against the original objectives. This cadence maintains agility and advances prospecting efforts to more involved selling efforts.
Leveraging new information learned from the customer will advance the pursuit by:
- Creating salient insights: Salient information that stands out or seems relevant is more likely to affect the prospect’s thinking and actions. The value of learning new information from the customer, even if it is unexpected, is that it equips the sales professional with details needed to deliver salient follow-up messaging that is akin to broadcasting at the customer’s frequency. A key component of Sprint Prospecting is developing a mindset in which unforeseen developments in the prospect’s world are not seen as a discouragement. Rather, they are seen as important information that enables ultra-customized messaging.
- Fostering authenticity: When the sales professional applies new information learned to their follow-up messaging, they are demonstrating their ability to listen, learn, and apply critical thinking. Moreover, they are showing their commitment to a continued focus on the customer without redirecting the conversation toward the solution. Authenticity is about showing the customer that the sales professional has their interests in mind. Doing so means knowing what those interests are by reflecting on information learned in the initial outreach.
- Distilling the value proposition: The most effective value propositions are those which are distilled to the few solution characteristics that truly matter to the prospect. Reflection and follow up is a critical step in distilling the vast scope of the solution into just a few sentences that get to the core of the prospect’s needs. The key is to revise the messaging by considering the customer’s phrasing and where they place emphasis. Understanding these factors and creating messaging to address them is what elevates a sales professional to a trusted advisor.
Sales professionals can surface salient information to use to advance the conversation by:
Explore any clues in the customer’s responses that might help refine the message
- Following up internally and externally with all commitments made to the prospect
- Assessing the strength of the sale to determine if it is viable
- Considering contacting other stakeholders cited in the conversation
- Evaluating how new information learned might be applied to other prospects
- Sending a brief follow up reconfirming what was discussed and expressing thanks
Sprint Prospecting™ Training for an Agile Approach to Earn the Customer’s Attention
In our Sprint Prospecting program, we teach your sales professionals how to apply selling sprints to embrace the dynamic nature of engaging and selling and integrate specific techniques, skills, and tools to progress each interaction. By applying selling sprints in their prospecting efforts, sales professionals will learn that each customer interaction – from an informal, social engagement to a more formal, initial meeting – arms them with the knowledge needed to assess the next best move against their original objectives.
Click here to contact us and set up a meeting to learn more about this exciting new program.
Get industry insights and stay up to date, subscribe to our newsletter.
Joining our community gives you access to weekly thought leadership to help guide your planning for a training initiative, inform your sales strategy, and most importantly, improve your team's performance.