Recently, I spoke at Enterprise Toronto’s Small Business Forum and remained on hand all day as a small business expert. Having spoken to over 300 small business owners throughout the day (and nearly 3,000 attending the event), I was amazed at how quickly every conversation turned into sales help.
One of the things that I spoke about during my presentation (with Joseph Puopolo) was message referencing, an incredibly simple technique to leverage when building a relationship or trying to get a call back.
What is Message Referencing
We send an e-mail to Prospect A and ask for a meeting. Two weeks later we hear nothing back. Not getting a response is not personal, we are all busy. The natural response is to reach back out again (though sadly, many just give up). It is all to easy to miss message referencing, a neat way to increase your odds of a response.
Message referencing leverages references points through your sales relationship. We all receive more calls and e-mails than we can possibly respond to daily. In each follow on message, reference the last. I’m also a firm believer in trying 2-3 different contact channels.
A practical example
We send Prospect A an e-mail and receive nothing back, so we are trying again. When we call and inevitably hit voicemail, reference that you are following up to an e-mail sent on <%= DATE %>.
If you hear nothing back, e-mail again saying you are following up to a voicemail left on DATE.
Perhaps Prospect A is very busy and never checks e-mail or their voicemail. Reach out on LinkedIN and mention you are following up from previous e-mail and telephone correspondence.
Why this works
Referencing past messages increases familiarity. 100’s of new names in an inbox are hard to remember for Prospect A. As you thread your messages together, whether Prospect A responds or not, a level of linked familiarity builds. As somebody in the receiving end I promise you that referencing old messages jogs my memory, whether I responded or not. Stimulating Prospect A’s memory is key.
It is also an easy way to manage polite consistency without being pushy. Threading messages feels organized and structured. It feels like a planned process and far less like a mad sales chase.
If you are having trouble hearing back from prospects, try threading your communications. Message referencing is one of many tools you can use, but is particularly valuable in the suspecting / prospecting phases of your sales relationship.
Quite often not receiving a response is not personal, people are busy, things move fast and we are all forgetful. Breeding familiarity and creating easy reminders increases your chances of response. Changing channels can also be a key tactic.