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Caffeine for Your Voice- and E-Mail

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By Brian Sullivan “It is better to fail in originality that to succeed in imitation.” -Herman Melville So, what is the first thing you do (OK, second thing you do) when you get up in the morning? If you said, “Check voicemail and e-mail,” then you are like the more than 34 million other salespeople and sales managers in the U.S. who have made e-mail and voicemail the principle way to communicate with colleagues and customers. Now just because we are all using the same form of communication, doesn’t mean that our communication has to look, act, sound, and smell exactly the same. In fact, you need to try harder than ever to differentiate yourself from the competition. For example, does your voicemail greeting sound something like this? “Hi, you’ve reached the voicemail of _______, I can’t take your call right now but if you would like to leave your name, number and a brief message, I will be sure to return your call as soon as I can. Have a great day.” Perhaps your greeting sounds EXACTLY like that. Guess what? You can guarantee that your competition’s greeting sounds almost the same. An unoriginal voicemail greeting is only one example of how alike we have all become. So why is it that we expect different or even better results than our competition while we look, act and sound exactly like them? If you are to stand out in your marketplace, you have to be original in nearly every aspect of your business. To do this, study your competition, understand what they are doing and make an effort to NOT be like them. Let’s start with voicemail. To create a voicemail greeting that gets a reaction from the person that is calling you, there are two ways to do this: 1. Create curiosity. For example, if you sell a product that is fast and saves your customers a ton of time, you might say: “Hi, sorry I can’t take your call right now. I am probably with a client right now showing them how they can get a better nights sleep for less at XYZ Mattress. When I call you back shortly, let me know if you would like to see if we could do the same for you.” I assure you, if you get ten voicemails from potential customers that day, at least two will ask you about your voicemail and that time-saving product. And by doing so, they have invited you to give them more information about your solution. That means opportunity. 2. Create happiness, a chuckle or even laughter. Let’s face it, we can all use a little jolt during the day. So give your callers a little emotional caffeine in your greeting. One way to do this is by sharing a ridiculous trivia fact like: “Did you know that every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming 1/10 of a calorie? Check back next week for more fun trivia.” Now might that be a little goofy? Sure, but so what! It’s original and you will get noticed. And those that get noticed most in business are the ones who get more business! The next electronic tool to originality is e-mail. If you want people to take notice of the message in your e-mail, it needs to grab their attention quickly. This means the same rules that apply to voicemail also apply to e-mail. To do this: 1. Create curiosity and credibility. One of the best ways is with a headline or a testimonial quote. For instance, if your product or company just received publicity stating how great you are, create a headline that makes them want to read the rest of your email. Think about it. Which articles do we read when we pick up the paper? Exactly… the ones with the interesting headline! If you don’t have any PR to use but do have happy customers, ask them to tell you why they do business with you and exactly what tangible benefits have they found? After they give you a quote, ask their permission to use that in your marketing materials. Then use that quote to begin the body of your email. For instance, it might look like this: “ABC Home Furnishings, helped me to create a beautiful dining room with their in-home, free design consultation service. Not only did I save money, my new room was delivered in flawless condition by their trained and courteous delivery people. Thank you ABC! –Jane H. (Happy) Customer Now, if a potential prospect opens your e-mail and first sees a testimonial with specific tangible benefits like that, do you think they will read the rest of your email? Of course! 2. Create a positive emotion with e-mail images. When meeting prospects, look for something you have in common and in your next follow-up email cut and paste an electronic image that will stir in them some emotion. For instance, one salesperson recently wanted his customer to know just how super he thought the account was. He went to an online stock photo company (like Dreamstime.com), typed in Super Bowl, found a picture of two Super Bowl tickets, downloaded it, then cut and paste it in the body of his e-mail with a note saying: “Dear John, I just want to drop you a note to tell you what a SUPER customer you have been. I DON’T have Super Bowl tickets, but if I did, you and I would be sitting at the 50 yard line!” Try this in your next e-mail. It will take a three minute investment in time and perhaps a one dollar investment in the image. But be assured, when your images create a smile, a chuckle or maybe just some raised eyebrows, you have created an emotional connection. And as timeless sales adage goes, “People making buying decisions emotionally and defend them logically.” So, add some emotion to the e-mails, and then try to contain your emotions when the sales start pouring in! So let’s wrap it up with the good news. Most people, even after reading this article, will still choose not to create original voicemail greetings or creative image e-mails because it feels a little awkward. But don’t let that stop you. Because that strange feeling you get while being original is called adrenaline. And adrenaline is a gift from God to your body to remind it that it is still alive. And once your body becomes comfortable in a career defined by originality, you better prepare yourself to become comfortable in success. See you at the TOP! ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sales Coach and Business Consultant Brian Sullivan,CSP is the author of the book, 20 Days to the TOP- How the PRECISE Selling Formula Will Make You Your Company's Top Sales Performer in 20 Days or Less. President of Kansas City-based PRECISE Selling, he delivers seminars and Internet training programs on sales, customer service, leadership and presentation skills to companies of all sizes. He also hosts the radio talk show “Entrepreneurial Moments,” a show dedicated to personal and business development. To find out more, visit www.preciseselling.com or email Brian at bsullivan@preciseselling.com.

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