Brand stories only resonate when they are placed in front of the right audience. No matter how good your brand story is, you can’t sell a beef fillet steak to a vegetarian. Clarifying who you are targeting allows you to curate your message so that when they have engaged with it they feel the need to respond to you. It’s the two way interaction that makes it a conversation.

“Marketing [and communication] is a two-way street. Brands can no longer shout their messages into the void and hope for the best. Instead, it’s all about conversations and connections—having conversations with consumers to build those relationships, and create sales,” notes Hubspot*.

So how do you create connections to create sales? 

By asking the right questions and then by listening carefully to the answers and allowing these conversations to inform the product or service you present. 

There are many contact points you can use to gather information that creates a better understanding of the prospect’s need:

  • your website contact form, 
  • your social media message platforms
  • Whatsapp 
  • your telephone conversations, 

They all allow you to pose relevant questions to move the conversation along so that when you respond you express both empathy and share insights.  As an expert, you guide them to a product or service that best suits their needs. 

You see, while the prospect can do a great deal of the research for themselves and that helps them select the brands they choose to contact, once they have made that initial enquiry, they are looking for the brand to be proactive. Research shows a prospect has already 70-80% decided when they make contact directly. So, the question to be answered is, how did you lose the sale? Why did they make a different choice?

Two of the most frequent reasons cited are:

  • the information you have put in the marketplace is so generalised it doesn’t allow them to rule you out. So they make an enquiry and only then find out that you don’t offer what they are looking for. This wastes your resources and their time. It’s unproductive and frustrating for both parties. We’d recommend you use their feedback to shape your outbound marketing content. It should improve the overall quality of the leads.
  • a general response which doesn’t address their true felt need. Some of the prospects will not know how to frame their needs accurately or provide you with enough information for you to be able to guide them. We’d recommend that rather than provide a general ‘catch all’ response you revert with key questions, communicating that these additional inputs will facilitate your providing both an empathetic and a wise response.

When you have a hot enquiry, your first response can make or break the relationship. The response has to be about the prospect and their needs, not about you. The successful salesperson (if you respond to the first enquiry on behalf of your brand, you are the salesperson) understands these factors and looks at the first point of direct contact as an opportunity to start a longer term relationship. They look to enter into a conversation, which includes 

  • prioritising the enquiry so the prospect feels important. A prompt response makes a great impression and immediately communicates that the prospect is valued.
  • guiding them with empathy. The response needs to be curated. The salesperson needs to develop the prospect’s understanding to the point where they are confident in their choice of product. 
  • ascertaining the timeline for the purchase. Because the prospect can’t buy now doesn’t mean that they aren’t a prospect, the salesperson needs to be able to adapt the process to maximise the investment made by the marketing effort by understanding the timeline, making a note and then continuing the conversation at the right time. 

Next week, we will unpack how to follow up on that first response in order to continue the conversation.

*Hubspot TalkWalker 2021 Social Media Trends