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How to reach out to people without being salesy
This is one of the questions I get the most often. I feel for every and each one of you putting yourself out there, working hard, sending those DMs, emails, making calls…
But it is time to analyse the steps you are taking and why they are not really working. Let’s divide this in two: inbound (where people find you) and outbound (where you reach out to people). Let’s start with the latter though, because it is the shortest one to cover and has good precedents for the next one.
The biggest reason why you get so many “nos” is because you are trying to sell the vehicle and not the destination. Let’s think about this: do you really think the person you are prospecting to work with you is fully aware that their website sucks? That’s the last thing they are thinking about. It is on top of your mind because you sell it, and the word “website” to 99% of people will not sound like any big transformation, and a hell lot of money they aren’t most likely willing to dish out, specially if you haven’t gotten that much to show yet. You write somewhat like this:
“Hi, how are you? My name is [ your name ] and I’m a website designer. I saw that your website looked outdated, and that might be driving sales down for you. I have just the thing you need for 5k a project. Can we hop on a call?”
Well, boohoo, you will get ignored. First, no one cares what you call yourself, for most business owners it doesn’t matter. Then, you go ahead and smash their results without knowing anything of it, with a price tag you don’t know will convert. It’s not a conversation. Do you know when people ring your doorbell to sell you an alarm even though you have 2 perfect ones? That’s right.
Now, you are expecting a script what the perfect DM or email would be like, right, so you can copy and paste and fix it to your own case, right? Well, there’s none. You can leave this blog post right now if you are unhappy about that, or stay and learn how to build a conversation with a prospect you are looking to work with.
If I sold you a trip to Rome, I’d not sell you the airplane, not the ticket. I’d sell you the image of being with a loved one immersed in culture and history — because I’m aware that people that want to go to Rome they want to go for these things, for example.
If I sold you a website, I would sell you the amount of sales I could bring in for your business in a month, risk free. If you have no previous results to show, I’d also not charge anything for that job. Let me explain why I’d not charge you anything:
Because it’s a risk to the client to hire someone inexperienced, and when you don’t charge anything, you are also taking a risk. You are now equals. Business is, after all, an exchange of value. When you don’t have results, it’s risk for risk.
So, how do effectively reach out to a client to sell a website? The same idea will work for any industry, because you will have hidden urgencies in effectively anything one sells, be it a product, physical or digital, or a service. Let’s say your vision is blurry, and you google “blurry vision”. Then you realise it’s a migraine symptom, and then you go ask a doctor. This is exactly how a small business owner acts (and most of us when we aren’t an expert in something), self diagnoses instead of looking for a specialist that can solve the symptoms. If you are the small business owner, keep that in mind each time you have a worry cross your mind about something.
A hidden urgency is a need a person has but can’t connect it to a product or service out of honest ignorance of possibilities. Your job, while you are reaching out to prospects, is to probe for that first. Have you ever heard an ad going something along the lines of “Feeling tired? Feeling dizzy? You might have this, and this is serious. proceeds to talk about the downsides and how it feels to fix it“. Remember, your prospect doesn’t want to have a headache, he simply doesn’t know how to fix it, and you pointing it out only makes them more irritated, and he won’t give a tiny bit of jazzle to whatever you have to offer. You rang their doorbell, interrupted them, and they are having none of it.
Your ideal clients are at different stages
So, what are the hidden urgencies of your prospect? You, reading this, are reading one of mine’s. They don’t know how to reach out to people and close business on DMs. Meta, huh? To expand, I sell brand strategy, which is how you can show up in front of ideal clients in a sustainable manner, but if I reached out to you and said “you need brand strategy”, you’d look at me and be like “wtf is brand strategy? No, I don’t think I do”. But I know you want more clients. You want more followers. You want people to rave about your business and listen to your story.
And this is also when we go to the second part of this: the inbound, where clients find you. While you can identify prospects, you can also create content to cover some of things they’d search for (how they’d search for). But creating the content is not enough, you need to be found. Whilst, let’s say, the cover image of an IGTV with a good headline would attract them (“Do you have blurry vision? This might be your problem), you also need to distribute it properly so that it can be found. The first step, of course, is to create a list of possible content ideas that will cover your prospects possible needs.
We’ve already talked about hidden urgencies, but we are not only thinking about it. There will be the guy who is like “I need a website”. Those are what we call the Readiness client. He’s good to buy from someone that seems to know what they are doing (hopefully they do). This would be the client that goes directly to the doctor to see why he has migraine.
Then, you also have the Conscious client, who knows he needs a medicine for his headache, but he needs to do a bit of research before he’s ready to buy or go to a doctor.
We of course have our Hidden Urgency people, who are searching for symptoms and need to become conscious of the problem before buying.
Then, there’s the opportunity people, which are the people that see an opportunity to make more money, be more influential, or whatever it is the transformation. For example, the classic headlines “Company uses this method and doubles their revenue in a week”. It is not clickbait if the method really did deliver the result, by the way. If you have both the method and the result from a past project, this sort of thing can raise huge amount of awareness… but it only works in certain cases.
So, you have these:
- Hidden urgency
Creating and distributing your content
I will assume you have at least one client persona that you want to pursue, one or more type of people that you have defined with demographical and psychographical information that you can use then apply the above.
You need to work on an editorial schedule. Type out what you will post in the next 50, 60, 100 days based off the above, and whether you will take an aspirational tone or touch upon their pains. The problem of focusing only or too much on the pain is that it makes people feel bad and it is often hard to bring them to aspire to get better (oh, you are fat, here’s what can happen to your health vs if you are not comfortable with your body, you are not alone and here are the few steps you can take today).
To distribute your content, I suggest automating what you can, such as an IFTTT from Instagram to Pinterest, and have Instagram automatically share your content to Facebook. Then, if you go live, upload them to Youtube.
And, of course, there’s the engagement from your part on other people’s content, which will help you create “backlinks” to your page. Don’t post just emojis, but give an honest comment and answer people in the comment section, essentially ethically hijacking the post of someone else that has the audience you are trying to reach.
Last, but not least at all, there’s the promotion. Promotion as in, paying for ads using the Business Manager on Facebook to boost your content and show it to more people. Facebook and Instagram have very smart tools (more so than Youtube) to help you distribute that content to people similar to your followers.
All in all, I hope this was helpful to you, and if you have questions, feel free to drop a comment! I will reply to it. Good luck prospecting.