Face it: we're always selling and using whatever materials we can get our hands on to get our message across, typically through email. I recently received an email with 18 links and 5 attachments! I was amazed it got past the spam filter; it scared the hell out of me! I know why it got through, though. The sender (who shall remain nameless) was on my approved list. He worked at a company where I'd previously purchased services. I assume my sales "friend" figured I'd educate myself on his new company and offerings by reviewing all the info he spat at me. Problem is, from where I sit, we're starting over. Sending attachments my way, never mind how many, was way too soon for our relationship. I hit delete.
Dating Hasn't Changed That Much
Have you ever seen that movie in which the gal – and often the guy – has some objective to meet someone and says, "Let's skip all the time-consuming 'getting to know yous' and become a couple now"? Zero to marriage in three minutes flat. I'm sure we can all agree that, while it may be entertaining in the movies, it's definitely out of whack in the real world.
Sending email attachments, unless I specifically request them, is like getting married without dating. I'm not ready for that type of "relationship," and it's rather presumptuous of you to think I am. Have you had a conversation with me yet to determine why I'm special? Why would you think collateral created in a generic way is ideal for me when you don't know me or my primary concerns? Are you a spammer? Maybe not, but without any evidence that you know me and what's important to me, I'm going to classify you as "that guy (or girl)" and ignore all subsequent content you try to send me. I might even just block you. The point is, you haven’t earned the right.
Your Place or Mine?
Those who have earned the right still may have trouble sending me information. In today's world, getting an attachment through the various spam and security filters is difficult, especially when emails contain large-file attachments. It's interesting that such a simple concept as FTP with a nice UI has spawned several companies. These companies are growing by leaps and bounds and changing the culture (although not completely) into a "come to my place to get it if you want it" mentality.
If you've earned the right to have a conversation with me, don't blow it by NOT agreeing on how we're going to share information. We need a personal "one-to-one" place to work together – not a file cabinet or deal room (our relationship’s not there yet). People who have earned the right to have the conversation don't clutter my inbox; they collaborate, giving me options for easily accessing information they've selected just for me.
Sure, such online tools as Dropbox, Box, WeTransfer, and YouSendIt are helpful when we want to share files with established colleagues, partners, and customers, but they're prematurely inappropriate for delivering content to prospects. Simply put, it's too early in the relationship.
Treat Me Right
So what's a salesperson to do when looking to create that relationship? Send me off to their Website? Might not be a good strategy, as I could get lost pretty easily and feel overwhelmed. We have customers with more than 500 different product SKUs, and the complexity of their site just might cause overload. Usually, people are looking for specific information to help their process along. Why dump your prospect on a generic site and make him or her more confused?
It's really hard to fake authenticity and create a connection. Focus instead on getting to know me and my company over time through various channels. Then, once you've earned your way into a conversation with me, we can both agree on how we are going to transfer materials and information. Don't just send something over; I'm not gonna read it. I've already deleted your email.
"Engagements" and "attachments" are part of both romantic and seller-to-prospect relationships. The difference is their order. Engaging with clients respectfully, ensuring that you add value at the right times in the right ways, will help you earn prospects' trust and lead to mutually beneficial interactions. Done right, sales conversations built on trust lead ultimately to buying decisions and repeat orders.
In full disclosure, VisibleGains helps salespeople use their email to cultivate prospect engagement and understand which conversations will turn into sales.