My friend and speaking coach, Patricia Fripp, has a phrase that I love. She likes to say, “Specificity brings memorability.” She’s right – and she’s getting more and more right every day. What she means is that, when you are speaking (or selling), what sets you apart are the specific details that you bring to the table. For instance, she coaches that you should quote statistics, specific facts, and other details that are “sticky” with the audience, even if they forget most of what you said.
Today, there’s another level to that – to sell successfully in 2023 (almost 2024), not only to you have to be specific, you have to be specific to the individual customer. Your customer doesn’t care what you’ve done for your other 99 customers, they care about what you will do for them and their individual situation. That expectation definitely raises the bar for your messaging, but it also creates big opportunities to win business.
If you’re still using generic sales pitches (most of us have at one time or another), you’re probably finding that they just don’t cut it anymore. Your customers have come to expect personalized interactions and recommendations tailored specifically to their needs; after all, when Facebook can detect a post you made and then immediately start throwing up ads for related products, we’re in a world where people expect sales and marketing to center around THEM. To effectively sell in this environment, you must improve your sales communications by moving beyond blanket messaging to authentic, one-to-one communication that demonstrates a deep understanding of each customer.
Once upon a time, we could send out generic email messaging and boilerplate product brochures, and still get a decent response rate. Nowadays, customers see those tactics as insincere (which, let’s be honest, they are), and often it turns customers off rather than capturing their interest. What grabs your buyer’s attention? Truly customized interactions that indicate you comprehend their unique situation.
The “bad” news is that, now, you have to put in the work to research prospects and customers as individuals before reaching out. Take the time to thoroughly understand your target’s business, challenges, goals and buying criteria. The good news (no scare quotes this time) is that it’s incredibly easy to do so. LinkedIn (in particular) gives you a window into what your prospect is thinking and doing – if you are on LinkedIn and if you are using it. Yesterday, I talked to a new client who explained to me that most of his salespeople don’t have LinkedIn profiles and aren’t using it. In 2023, that’s unacceptable – you’re leaving a lot of your opportunity to sell on the table.
When you are armed with a solid understanding of a prospect’s or customer’s world, you can then tailor every piece of communication to resonate. Customize emails, social messages and collateral to showcase your grasp of their priorities and needs – and how you can create Advantages over their current situation. That can launch them into their own Buyer’s Journey – one that hopefully includes you. Send relevant content that ties directly to current initiatives within their company. The more precise and one-to-one your outreach, the better it will be received.
Don’t be afraid to send non-sales content. For instance, let’s say that you see an article that ties back to something one of your customers is experiencing, or a post that you might have seen on LinkedIn. Shoot them a message with a link to the article, indicating why you sent it.
Nailing this level of personalization at scale takes work. After all, most of us have more than one customer or prospect at a time! But it pays off handsomely by boosting response rates and forging stronger customer connections. Research by The Relevancy Ring found personalized emails generate six times higher transaction rates and individualized web experiences provide a 20 percent lift in sales. Customers that feel understood and valued through tailored communication build lasting loyalty with brands over those taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
While personalized messaging certainly demands more upfront effort from you, that’s precisely what sets you apart. In competitive industries, buyers have multiple options with comparable solutions. You’ve probably already figured THAT part out. Taking time to understand your customers shows you genuinely care about their success beyond making a quick sale. Strong one-to-one connections drive more productive conversations that uncover true needs and align your solutions. When your buyers feel understood as more than transactions, you build trust that wins business.
Here are four quick steps to individualizing your communication:
- Research. Note that when I say “research,” I’m not suggesting that you spend all day on one customer. You can learn more in five minutes now than you used to be able to in hours – so spend that five minutes doing quality research. Company web pages are good. Company social media is better (because it’s more current and more reflective of where they are at the moment). Your contact’s professional social media is best. Looking them up on LinkedIn? Good professional research. Looking them up on Facebook? Stalkery.
- Find a “hinge.” A “hinge” is a point upon which to base sales communication. For instance, if your target says that they are about to open a new location and you sell something that helps with that, that’s a hinge. If your target expresses frustration that you can solve, that’s a hinge. But remember – hinges are “specific.”
- Craft a message including the hinge. Now it’s time to reach out. You can use email, social media messaging, or you can even craft a short voice mail (because so few people answer the phone anymore). “Hi, John, this is Troy with ABC Company. I see that you’re opening a new location at 46th and Main, and we already help several of your neighbors solve this problem that you’ve referenced in a LinkedIn post. Maybe we could help you, too – could we talk?” Remember – specificity brings memorability. Keep it short and punchy, but include enough detail so that you’re talking to your target, not just anyone who might be in the area.
- Be patient. We might not love it, but the reality is that prospecting is much more of a slow play now. The level of information and control that your buyers have means that they can enter their own Buyer’s Journey on their timetable – not yours. Understand this, keep dripping specific messages, and you’ll get on their radar screen.
The bottom line is that generic communication doesn’t work anymore. Want to win more business today? Then you have to become a student of your prospects and clients. Put in the work to comprehend needs, goals and pain points at an individual level. Then demonstrate that understanding through authentic conversations and recommendations matching each customer’s unique priorities. This approach to selling is going to move your customers beyond the “occasional buyer” status and create the “loyal customer relationship” that we are all looking for. Set yourself apart and improve your sales communications by speaking to customers like the individuals they are.