In a world where AI is everybody's favorite new term, how can you stay relevant?
By learning to master messaging and the human element of engaging with prospects & customers you will not only stand out, you'll be irreplaceable.
AI is the term of the year. We’re all hearing about it. We’re all talking about it. No doubt AI will be changing all of our lives in ways both seen and unforeseen in the coming months and years. There's been a lot of discussion on how it will be affecting the job market and disrupting nearly every industry, including sales. And while there may be concerns about how it is going to “eventually replace SDRs”, the fact is that there is always going to be a need for salespeople who can effectively articulate value against a pain or challenge.
So how do you ensure you are an SDR that is irreplaceable?
#1- Become a master of messaging
Deep expertise in the problems and challenges facing your customer base and an understanding of your company’s value proposition is key. This requires a solid familiarity with the way your technology works (I’m not talking about feature dumping here, but the ability to explain HOW the technology helps to solve the problem in a succinct way), how you stack up against your competition, and why the customer needs to use your solution to solve critical business problems.
The key here is attaching your messaging to pain, not to functionality.
#2 - Hone your Discovery
Discover for an SDR? YES! Discovery is a process, not an event or a sales stage. Discovery should occur at every single step along the buyer’s journey, including the initial qualification call.
Your goal in qualification is to quickly identify the pain/challenge/goal your prospect is dealing with and tie that back to your company’s value. The better and more complete understanding you have of that problem, the more likely you are to get a meeting and the better you can prepare your sales counterpart to continue what you started in discovery.
Use what you hear from one person with everyone else you speak with. Account-based insights and info helps with credibility to decision makers.
#3 - Know your ICP
Learn EVERYTHING you can about your customer base and ideal customer profile. While AI is good (and getting better) at a lot of things, one thing it is not doing right now is getting on the phone with prospects and customers using emotional intelligence to empathize with prospects and customers.
The fact is that decisions are largely influence by emotion - yes, even in the corporate world and despite the fact that we all want to be and claim to be rational creatures.This means that empathy plays a HUGE role in selling, and until technology gets more advanced than it is, this still falls squarely in the category of jobs humans do better than machines.
How to make (human) messaging matter
All of these topics deserve the proper attention, but today I’m just going to address messaging. After years of studying, practicing, and training SDRs and sales reps on the finer points of effective messaging I’ve become very familiar with what a winning formula for messaging looks like.
I’m not claiming that this is the ONLY way to effectively message, but the framework below honors time-tested principles that will help to drive the urgency of your message and resonate with your prospects/customers at an emotional level. In later posts we’ll dig into each of these steps in much greater detail, but for now I hope you find this high-level framework valuable in your messaging efforts.
There are many different situations and sales approaches that will all require their own nuance, but for those writing high-touch messaging or highly tailored sequences this 3-element framework is highly effective.
#1 - The Introduction
Your intro should be short, personal, and relevant (personal meaning that there is no doubt to the recipient that this message is intended for them personally, and not one in a batch of automated emails that is going out).
The best way to make it both personal and relevant, and to increase the urgency of your message, is to use a Trigger/Catalyst for Change/Compelling Event.
A Trigger/Catalyst for Change/Compelling event is anything that:
has happened recently, is happening now, or is going to happen in the near term that
impacts the prospect’s need for what you offer. Examples of these are leadership changes, growth (M&A, expansion, etc.), product releases, relevant regulatory or legislative changes, or movement by the competition.
When you identify something that is going to affect your customer, your message becomes a little harder to ignore.
#2 The Value Proposition
Your Value Proposition should be quick and to the point. People don’t have the time or patience for long emails, so if it takes you a paragraph to explain how you can help them you’ve already lost your audience.
the problem/pain they are experience (either at an organizational, persona-based, or personal level)
the benefit your product/service offers in relation to that product (notice how I didn’t say feature/function here?)
customer evidence ( a one sentence customer story or naming 2-3 high-profile reference-able customers will do).
This is the heart of your email. Most people can find something personal or timely that is impacting your prospect/customer. The real magic happens when you can connect that to the value your company offers and make this about solving a real pain that they have.
#3 Call to Action
There is a lot of debate as to whether SDRs should be asking the customer if they are interested vs. asking for a meeting. While interesting, that is a debate for another time and I’m not going to address it here. Whichever method suits your style and personality, you need to be leaving your customer with some sort of invitation to action.
The less work it is for your prospect to accept your CTA, the fewer barriers they have to saying yes. Make it a downhill journey for them. Suggest times rather than asking them when they are free. Tools like Chili Piper and Calendly make it very easy to see when you are available and sync calendars with you and your sales counterparts. In the end, the goal is to get a yes - so make it easy for them to give you that answer.
Keeping yourself relevant in a world of AI
AI is changing how we work, no doubt about it. There are a host of tools that are already impacting this space and SDRs at the top of their game are already seeing it as a competitive advantage rather than a threat (we’ll talk about some GREAT ways you can leverage AI in your work in a future post).
Ultimately AI is not ready to take on the work of SDRS - as long as that SDR is doing highly intelligent work and not operating as an appointment setter. By learning to master messaging, you will find ways to use technology to increase your impact ( not as a substitute for it) and truly make yourself irreplaceable.