man at laptop jeshoots unsplash sales clichés“How’s business?” This might just be the oldest sales conversation-starter in the universe. There are other similar sales-related clichés you’ve heard, and some you’ve probably even said or written, like:

  • “I thought I’d reach out to introduce myself and learn more about you and your company…”
  • “I’m wondering if you need…”
  • “Did you get my last email…”
  • “Let me know how I can help you…”

And then of course there is the oldie but goodie, “I’d love to learn more about your business…” In fact, this was the title and inspiration for a recent blog post written by Dave Brock, a sales, marketing, business, and leadership consultant and author of “Sales Manager Survival Guide: Lessons From Sales’ Front Lines.”

In the post, Dave shares how, as a business owner, he has been on the receiving end of these and many other generic sales pitches. But he also notes the critical flaw with this type of language. “They put the onus on me to figure out if I can get value, whether it’s worth my time to respond or do something,” he explains. “They make it my responsibility to educate them, so they can figure out how to sell me something.”

An already-full plate

As Dave observes, it shouldn’t be the role of the client or prospect to teach you about their industry or how their business operates. Most business owners have far too much on their plate as it is, wearing numerous hats on any given day. They often don’t have time to check off everything on their own to-do list, much less add “explain my company to a salesperson so they can pitch me their product” to their tasks.

Business owners, especially small to medium-size business (SMB) owners, are looking for solutions to make their jobs simpler and their businesses more successful. Time and time again, surveys show that SMBs are looking for business partners who can bring them new ideas to solve their unique challenges. And I can tell you for certain: Asking them, “How’s business?” does not fit that bill!

Taking the initiative to learn more

Instead of putting the onus on the business owner to educate them about their industry and their company, savvy salespeople will take the time to do their homework in advance of reaching out to the prospect. Not only will this give the sales professional the information they need to initiate a personalized conversation about the client/prospect’s company, it will also arm them with the knowledge they need to provide the business owner with tailored solutions to common issues faced within their industry.

This is where Industry Intelligence is clutch. Spending even 5 minutes preparing for a client call or researching prior to sending a prospecting email can mean the difference between getting new or more business from that business owner, and having your outreach trashed — literally or figuratively. Industry Intelligence enables you to move beyond those tired sales pitch clichés to add value to your conversations.

Two different sales approaches

Consider these two very-different conversations, which could take place either in person, on the phone, or via email.

Conversation 1:

Hi Sarah. I thought I’d reach out to introduce myself and learn more about you and your company. At ABC Bank, we have low rates and fees to help small businesses like yours succeed. Can you share your challenges and priorities? Can we set up a time to discuss?

Conversation 2:

Hi Sarah. I know that landscaping companies like yours are experiencing growth in residential services as property owners, who cared for their own lawns and flower beds to pass time and save money during the pandemic, return to work and have less time for yard maintenance. I’d love to talk with you about how your firm is dealing with the cost of purchasing, maintaining, and repairing quickly depreciating equipment in order to meet this growing demand, and how ABC Bank can help with equipment financing.

As you can see, Conversation 1 puts it on the business owner to explain her situation so that the banker can hopefully sell her on a product or service. Conversation 2, on the other hand, incorporates Industry Intelligence into the pitch. Not only does it show the prospect that you have taken the time to learn about their industry, but you have a specific solution to a timely pain point the business owner may be experiencing.

Showcase your research efforts, win more business

So many salespeople lead with, “I’d love to learn more about your business,” but few take the time or the initiative to actually do it!

By utilizing Industry Intelligence, like you will find on Vertical IQ, you can, in fact, learn about your client or prospect’s niche in just a few minutes. You can then show them that you have taken interest in their business in a very tangible way: incorporating your industry knowledge into your conversation or email, sharing timely industry news articles with a personal note, adding industry data and financial benchmarks into your presentation — just to name a few ideas.

These types of industry-specific sales tactics show the business owner that you have taken the time to learn about them and their industry. It will enable you to have intelligent conversations about their industry and will allow you to offer customized ideas on how to solve their business challenges.

I’m reminded of Dale Carnegie’s bestseller “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” To paraphrase a key message from that book, Carnegie advises that you will accomplish more in the next few months if you develop a sincere interest in people than you will by trying to get people interested in you. By doing your pre-call research using Industry Intelligence, you can move beyond tired clichés to have tailored, engaging, value-added conversations with your client or prospect. You’ll show them that not only would you “love to learn more about their business,” but you actually took the bull by the horns and did your homework!

Image credit: Jeshoots, Unsplash

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