February 26, 2013

Five Tips for Contacting a New Business Lead

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"I think the last time we spoke, Donald Trump had a full head of hair."

Is that the line you think will work best when contacting a potential business lead for the first time? Probably not. Some people may think you should start your own stand-up comedy show after that but many others won't even bother to respond to you.

Reaching out to a lead can be intimidating and nerve-racking. You know little about them and don't know how to break the ice. With these five easy steps you will never be speechless again, and will know exactly what to say to get in touch with that new lead to build and strengthen your relationship.

Look at those locks!


STEP 1: Be Concise

In the past, we could often send an email and get a response within a couple of hours or at most the very next day. However, times have changed. In order to be "heard" by your leads it is important that your message is concise. Outline the main points you would like to get across and make sure that your message does not exceed 4 or 5 sentences.

Example:

Rather than writing:
"Our company has many of the resources you can use for making a decision freely available." (16 WORDS)

You can instead write:
"Our company offers several free decision making resources." (8 WORDS)

STEP 2: Be Positive

Conveying your desired tone through technology is incredibly hard, no doubt. Using capital letters, italics or bold, exclamation points or question marks can help you successfully relay your implications. It's essential that you use these formatting tools to express who you are and for what you're asking. Far too often miscommunications occur from a lack of a clear tone, so be positive to avoid any confusion.

Example:
"Let me know if I can help answer any questions that you may have!"

You probably include a line similar to this in a lot of your outgoing emails. However, how often do you place an exclamation point at the end of the sentence? With this simple addition, the sentence is transformed into something that makes you stand out.

PRO TIP: Remember that there is a fine line between what's appropriate and what's not. Being overeager and placing several exclamation points at the end of a sentence can come off as anxious and irritating to readers. Being professional and being enthusiastic aren't mutually exclusive so long as you strike that delicate balance.

STEP 3: Show Interest in Your Lead

Understanding more about a lead than simply his or her position within a company can help you turn the lead into a sale. Wouldn't you appreciate it if someone took time to learn about your recent promotion and congratulated you in their follow-up efforts? This technique is a great way to help you differentiate yourself from the hundreds of other people contacting the same lead. When you show an interest in your lead beyond the business opportunity they provide, most likely they will show an interest in you and the business opportunity you are seeking.

Example:
"Congratulations on your recent promotion! It's great to see that your hard work has paid off."

This shows that you have gone the extra step to really learn about whom you are contacting and that you're worth their time. If they feel that you put time and interest into them, they will be more willing to invest in you as well.

STEP 4: Customize your Approach

You did some valuable research on your new lead in the last step. Now, you know what they may appreciate or find humorous, and you'll be able to leverage this knowledge to increase your returns. Customizing your email or message with jokes, videos or articles is acceptable and even encouraged! Make sure, however, that the lead you are contacting will truly appreciate that joke or article. Sending a joke or article that your lead doesn't appreciate could make your efforts appear spammy.

Example:
"I came across this article when I was surfing the web this evening, and immediately thought of you because I know how passionate you are about meatballs. Be careful!"

STEP 5: Develop a Strong Hook

When you first reach out to a lead you have the opportunity to write a strong hook and make your lead want to continue reading. First impressions are the most important ones to make favorably, so if you can find a way to grab your lead's attention from the get go, you have a better chance of converting your lead into a sale. This tip also works particularly well in the subject line, as this is the first thing your lead will read and has a huge impact on your open rates.

Example:
Subject: What's your dream vacation?

What's your most poignant tip when you're contacting a new lead for the first time? Drop us a line in the comments or let us know on Twitter by tweeting @Contactually.