When Prospecting, First Impressions Really Matter. Here’s How to Make a Great One.

When it comes to sales prospecting, standing out in today’s crowded digital sales landscape is even more challenging.

the secret? Leave a great first impression, which happens within a nanosecond and accounts for 80 percent of the importance of the entire call. Your introduction needs to buy time and get a response.

We are in the business of sharing, trust and quick response. The following selling tactics will make your first impression rich.

How to make a great first impression when searching by voicemail.

There has been a lot of speculation about voicemail running out, with voicemails getting less than a 2% response rate. I’d say it’s on life support, not dead, and there are some best practices for getting the most out of it. They are:

  • Keep it short – less than 25 seconds in length.
  • State who you are, why you are calling, and what are the benefits for them. It’s the popular radio station everyone listens to (WIIFM, “What Can I Do For Me”).
  • The tone should be conversational, informative, gentle and brief; It is not automated or voiced as if you are reading from text.
  • Act confident, trustworthy, reliable, and professional.
  • Maintain strong pitch and crisp, clear phrases.
  • Have a clear call objective associated with a compelling call to action.
  • Have a proactive follow-up strategy.
  • Take advantage of your voicemail and supplement it with your email.

How to make a great first impression when email prospecting.

Email rates go down just like voicemail. The key is to combine the two and make sure both are strong.

Here’s what I recommend when searching by email:

  • Deliver your email with your voicemail simultaneously. These two should sync and transmit within seconds of each other.
  • Write short email messages consisting of one or two paragraphs.
  • Your email subject line should include your company name and potential client’s company name as this indicates a partnership. Combine these with a strong verb.
  • Choose the opening sentence (the hook).
  • Use strong, direct language.
  • Clean, organize and format your emails.
  • Incorporate information and benefit from the relevance of their organization.
  • Include accessible links, rather than attachments.
  • Watch for rules and typos.
  • Conclude with a clear call to action.
  • Make your signature short; Six lines max.
  • Add “ps” at the bottom of your emails.

How to make a great first impression when searching on LinkedIn.

With over 750 million users on LinkedIn, it has become a goldmine for prospecting for sales and generating leads. Again, it’s all about standing out from the group – and it starts with having a strong LinkedIn profile.

Here’s what I recommend to get the most out of LinkedIn:

  • Create a memorable and eye-catching LinkedIn address.
  • Your LinkedIn summary should describe your role and your unique value proposition. Put your character in it.
  • Upload a current professional header photo that shows your face and doesn’t have a distracting background.
  • Join groups that serve your target audience.
  • Personalize your contact requests with a message of less than 300 characters.
  • When building your personal brand, your summary, recommendations, and publications are the most important.
  • When you send InMails to LinkedIn, combine them with email and voicemail – the three messages sent together will increase your response rate.

My new favorite exploration technique – adding videos to my outreach program.

Recording a quick video intro is one of the best ways to get a quick response. It has become the ideal digital alternative to face-to-face communication.

To make a great video intro, follow these steps:

  • Determine how and where it fits into your exploration cadence. Does it work better as an initial intro or a quick boost?
  • Find your potential customer and find out who they are, what role they play, and what challenges they face.
  • Write a text or talking points, and don’t just stop there.
  • Email it or post it on LinkedIn.

Great (and not so great) opening lines, when you finally connect with someone.

The average salesperson today averages 50 to 60 outgoing calls and emails per day, hoping to only get a 2 to 3 percent call rate. When they finally get direct contact, they just have 6 seconds To make an introduction over the phone – and even less on email.

If the potential customer likes what they hear, you earn more time. But if they see your call or email as spam, you’re out.

Bottom line, the opening line is really important. So don’t waste it with weak slots like this:

  • “Hey, did I catch you at a bad time?”
  • “You seem very busy, I can call you again.”
  • “I wonder if you have any projects you’re working on?”
  • “Oh, you startled me, hey, I wonder, um….”

No matter how busy your prospects are, they appreciate a salesperson who comes prepared with the goal of a strong call. Present yourself with a strong opener that will put you on a solid foundation.

Here are powerful openings that help you take control of the call immediately:

  • “Hi, I’m Susan from ABC, and the purpose of my call is to introduce myself, and learn about your needs to see if there’s a potential match. By the end of the call, I’d like to identify a few people on your team that we can invite to an upcoming event.”
  • “I’m glad I caught you. I’d like to introduce myself, check your familiarity with our company, and learn more about your department to see if there’s a match with our solution. By the end of our call, I’d like to make an appointment with our partner.”

Last tip – know who you are selling to!

When top decision makers were asked what they considered strong sales pitches, here’s what they said:

  • “Someone who did his homework and knows about my company.”
  • “ When a salesperson appears professional, concise, confident and delivers value to his message, I will listen. ”
  • “I delete a lot of messages daily and the only thing that stands out to me is a strong, short, personal message that gets to the point of the topic.”

Bottom line – the more you know about your potential business and the more personalized the outreach, the more likely you are to connect with them. Research is worth the investment.

To learn more from Josiane Chriqui Feigon, check out her LinkedIn tutorial, inside sales.

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