Get the client to open the offer

Tekst otwarty nr 12/2020

“Please send an offer by email” is one of the worst sentences a salesperson can hear. For many, it means one thing - the end of the conversation and a missed opportunity. But is that really the case? And what should be done to ensure that the client actually opens the offer and, above all, wants to read it? Discover the most common mistakes, avoid them, and learn how to use an emailed offer to your advantage.

Get the client to open the offer

During sales training, participants often complain that clients are notorious for dispassionately saying “please email me your offer” as an excuse to end the conversation. When you’re talking to someone’s assistant, this happens in about 80% of cases. Very often, even when you send an offer - especially a non-specific offer - the client either has no time to read it, or doesn’t intend to do so at all, and simply stops answering the phone. At the same time, when you send a specific offer with a quote, the whole thing suddenly loses momentum - the offer gets forwarded to someone higher up, and... there’s no time to read it anyway. The more offers you send by email, the more often you find yourself in this situation, and instead of your sales, it’s your frustration that grows. Does it have to be this way? No! However, to change this situation you need to start by changing the ineffective assumptions that are so common among sales representatives, advisors, and specialists, regardless of their industry. Here are the most important ones:

1. The client is trying to get rid of you

Clients don’t only ask you to send an offer by email because they want to ‘get rid of you’. To the contrary. Just as often, clients ask because you aren’t running the sales conversation very well, and the client isn’t getting anything out of it - certainly not any specifics! When I am on the client side myself, I so often hear vague generalisations about ‘savings’, ‘increased profits’, the ‘highest quality’, and so on - nothing particularly specific. To find out what exactly is going on, I need an email. This is one of the main reasons why clients want you to send an offer. The second reason is that the client doesn’t know anything about you, and a general offer can help them familiarise and orient themselves in the situation. Sending a general offer is an important first step to success, especially if you sell solutions where the decision-making process is lengthy. So, if the client asks you for it, instead of losing enthusiasm, treat it as the first step. It’s worth knowing that this is where most salespeople fail, because of the assumptions you’re learning about now.

2. Assuming that the email will do the selling, not you!

Sales directors notoriously complain about salespeople who - instead of calling and actively selling - spend hours perfecting the offer emails they send to clients, which don’t result in anything. Or, the other way around: they send so many offers that ‘there’s no more time for calls’, but they don’t get results. Why does this happen? Because deep down, salespeople hope that the email will do the selling, so they don’t have to!

Remember:

It’s your conversation that sells, the email and the offer only confirm the decision.

If the conversation isn’t very good, you won’t get the client to open your offer! The problem isn’t the email itself, or the fact that the client ‘doesn’t want to read it’ or ‘doesn’t have time’. The problem is that your conversation isn’t interesting, valuable, and useful enough for the client to convince them to take the next step. There’s a big difference between being a salesperson and being a ‘professional emailer’ whose goal is ... of course, emailing offers. Understand that the most important elements are you and your conversation. The point of the conversation is to assess the client, examine their needs, choose the right solutions, and then make a sale. It’s not to send an offer and then forget about it, without putting any effort into talking to the client. There’s also another mistake you have to avoid.

3. Calling and asking for a decision

The third reason why clients don’t read offers is that after sending them, salespeople often call and ask for a decision. Usually, when you call, you start with the question: “Has the offer arrived?” and “What’s your decision?”. Why is this a serious mistake? Because ... you assume that the email does the selling, so you don’t have to do anything! You send an email and then - so gracefully - call and ask for a decision... well, no! I repeat - it’s you that sells, not the offer. After sending it, you should call to continue the sales conversation. What’s more, while many salespeople treat calling for a decision as the end of the sales process, you should consider it as part of the sales conversation. Call the client to ask for their impressions about the offer and then move on to the key steps, including making the sale. Approach this as the key stage of the conversation, having already done the groundwork in the first conversation.

Create an email that you would want to read and talk about

Another problem that I observe is that the email itself - both the subject and the content - leaves much to be desired. It is often a boring, dry message about the company and its achievements, not about the benefits if offers the client. Short, laconic emails which don’t encourage continued communication are another common mistake. In turn, the ‘general offer’ attached is usually a presentation about the company, its history and its achievements, not about the benefits it offers its clients. Salespeople themselves often don’t like sending general offers, as they say, ‘there’s nothing really there.’ So, the question is, why are they sending them?

Understand that in sales, the process matters - the next steps. That’s especially true these days, as we rarely make a sale with the first phone call, so properly preparing the sales path is key. So, start thinking about what would make your client read your email and then develop that aspect. The following exercise will help you with this.

Exercise:

Work out the benefits of reading the email

  1. What should an email contain to be valuable to the client? List 3-4 things.
  2. What information in the attachment would be interesting for them?
  3. What should an email start with to make the client want to read the whole thing?
  4. What should be in the attachment, so the client wants to look at it? List 3-4 items.
  5. Then check to what extent your current ‘general offer’ meets these conditions!

The key to success is to look at the offer content and the entire email exclusively from the client’s point of view. Develop the email content so it’s valuable to the client, not so it’s just a presentation about your company and their offer! To start with, show the client the benefits your offer provides, how you will effectively resolve their problems, or how you will satisfy their needs. Create an offer about client, not about your company. In this way, you will lay the groundwork for future success. During sales training, we repeatedly talk about the fact that you yourself will feel much better if you send a ‘general’ offer that you consider valuable. Think how much easier it will be for you to work if instead of believing that “there’s nothing in there, just generalities”, you can truly say “it summarises the benefits for your company,” and “just reading this email will be valuable”. How much more willing will you be to call the client back? Exactly!

Deliver value first, and then you can start thinking about selling, not the other way around! Once you have an email prepared, you only have to do one last thing - properly prepare the client during the conversation.

Prepare the client to read the email

Only once you’ve already created an email that’s interesting and valuable to the client can you improve the conversation and think about how to convince the client to read it. When I was describing the common mistakes, one of them was the belief that it’s the email that sells, and not the sales conversation. Meanwhile, your job is to show the client the benefits of reading your email and to continue the conversation after reading it. Guide the client, educate them, and lead them further through the process of cooperating with your company. After all, you’re the expert. So, answer the following questions and fix your conversations:

Exercise

Develop arguments to use during the conversation

  1. How should you end the conversation with the client so that they want to read your email?
  2. How should you continue the conversation after sending the offer?

Write down some ideas and then use them in your conversations. Of course, after you’ve sent the email, don’t start the next conversation with “did you get the offer?”!

Summary: how to avoid traps and stop wasting sales opportunities

A comprehensive, strategic approach is the key to preparing an effective offer that the client will want to read. First of all, remember that it’s you who does the selling - more specifically, the conversation with you. Before you send the offer, it’s your job to convince your client that it’s worth reading the email. Secondly, create an email that the client will want to read, i.e. an email about the benefits that your product or service will provide them, instead of a general offer and a description of your company. This will make reading your email make sense and will increase the chance that the client will want to continue the conversation - and the chance that they’ll answer the phone the next time you call. There are no magic solutions in sales, but there’s always a lot you can do to maximize your chances! So, for starters, stop making the mistakes described in the article. And then ... increase your effectiveness!

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