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Retrofit Your Sales Communication Tools

We sell in a time that has an abundance of sales communication tools at are our disposal. The more tech forward tools include email, smartphones, text, and social media for the most part. Then of course, there’s what might be considered “old school” tools like faxing, a hard copy letter and a hand written note.

Some of these “old school” methods are not being used much any more as times and technology has changed. At the same time some methods that took their place can become less effective due to the volume of messages being sent daily. To stay at the top of your sales game you can’t fall into a trendy trap. The smart sales person will assess what selling and marketing methods are obsolete, new and effective, and which need a retrofit. Let’s take a look at the old and new methods of communication and see if we can find some new ways to use them to keep our selling conversations plentiful and moving along.

This blog was inspired by two events this week. On Monday a sales person told me how they used a fax machine to realize better results than email. On Tuesday I watched the new Hollywood movie, “The Intern” starring Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway. The movie highlights the old school life etiquette of a seventy-year-old intern that makes positive impressions on a company full of twenty and thirty-year-olds.

We don’t have to always invent something new. Sometimes we can be effective by using a little old and a little new, or retrofitting.

Use email to market a fax message

I’ve written on how to market your voicemails with an email. The same principle applies to all other forms of communication methods. If you want someone to read something now, you just might want to market it through an email subject line and use a different delivery system. In your email subject line say, “I’m sending you a fax” or “A fax should be on your machine or inbox”. In the body include a similar message. Hi John, I’ve just sent you a fax and wanted to alert you it’s coming. The leverage of this approach is that most business people don’t receive many faxes. It almost makes it a novelty. It will be hard for most people to resist walking over to the fax machine. If they receive their fax into their email it will also stand out as a “FAX” message, which again they will want to read out of curiosity.

The fax machine, which once was the fastest way to send written communication, has taken a back seat to email. This backseat position has opened the door to this retrofit.

The common business letter can become a special communication

I’m not sure about you but I don’t receive many pieces of mail that arrive in nice stationary and don’t look like a bulk mailing. When I do they are the first thing I want to open. I curious and anxious to know who cared enough to send me a personal letter. A letter might take you longer to write, stamp and mail, but it can provide you a better result. You can also promote your letter through email just as with a voicemail and fax. The day the letter should arrive, send out the email letting your prospect know you have sent them a letter in the mail that should be arriving today or tomorrow. Let their curiosity lead them to opening it. Your letter now becomes a surprise. What used to be common is now special.

The handwritten note of yesteryear is now a difference maker

This classy piece of communication was leaving the business world about the time I was getting into it. We used to send notes but not as consistently as the generation before me. I still remember the impression a certain sales persons follow-up note made on me back in 2000. I would always answer this persons phone calls. They had earned my trust and respect with that added piece of class. There is only one reason I don’t write more notes. I get lazy. What about you?

In addition to the class it brings, the note can be retrofitted into a marketing tool. The note can be the reverse of marketing by email. You can use a note to inform someone of an email you will be sending that has information they will want to read. By sending the note first you can gain emotional equity to have them open your email and take action.

At the end of the day the priority of any communication should be to have your message received and understood. This might take a mixture or retrofit of new and old tools. It is getting more and more competitive to separate your messages in an email inbox. To be that top salesperson on your team remain open minded to new and old methods, and when possible, find new ways to use them all.

Rene is the President of Sales Manager Now, a company that provides fractional sales management services to small and family-run businesses. He has twenty-seven years of experience in sales leadership, coaching, and consulting. He is also the author of the Part-Time Sales Management handbook and is based in Auburn, California.

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