“Good morning. I represent a printing company but I don’t want to print your magazines.”
This was the opening line of a sales call that I received when I was the print purchaser at a major magazine publishing company. It was a great way to grab my attention. After all, the sales person was doing exactly the opposite of what I would expect. Most other printing companies that approached me were desperate to print my magazines!
This was a great example of pattern interrupt. It certainly ensured that the sales person got a little more time on the phone with me. Had I received a standard opening line, I would have most likely not taken the call any further. Pattern interrupt is a very useful tool for a sales person.
What is pattern interrupt?
Pattern interrupt is when you do something differently from what is expected of you. If a lawyer suddenly started singing to you in a meeting, that would be a very extreme example of pattern interrupt!
However, you would be very likely to remember that lawyer for a long time. In the same way, sales people are more likely to be remembered and get engagement if they practice pattern interrupt.
Here are three ways to use pattern interrupt successfully
It can be effective to use pattern interrupt in the actual words of the message, as I showed you at the beginning of this article. However, it is possible to get even better results by using pattern interrupt in your communication channels.
Most of today’s sales people try and contact their prospects by using phone and e-mail. But that is what buyers are used to. They will typically leave their voicemail on. They are skilled at deleting most sales e-mails without actually reading them. A sales person that concentrates on phone and e-mail is going to have to work very hard to get many dialogues going.
It is much easier to contact buyers through other channels, where they are not yet used to being sold to. You can start using my first suggestion as soon as you have a prospect’s cell phone number.
- Use SMS
Buyers are far less used to receiving texts than e-mails. E-mails get deleted. Texts get read. A text may well be from a friend or family member. So buyers will check their phones to see whom a text was from. They are used to replying to texts as a matter of course. So they are much more likely to reply to you. The same thing happens on the next communication channel.
- Reach out on social media
We are all used to seeing a lot of content on social media. But one-to-one interaction is a lot more rare. People often really appreciate it when their social media network engages with them. Again, they usually don’t see this as a typical sales channel. I have had great success in reaching out to prospects through direct messaging on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Once you have established a dialogue, it’s time to continue the strategy of pattern interrupt.
- Use Skype instead of meetings
In today’s busy world, it is hard for people to find the space for meetings.
Equally, the travel time to and from meetings is not the best use of a sales person’s day. Suggesting a Skype call to a prospect is a bit different. It shows them that you are busy and do not have the time to dedicate to a traditional meeting. That makes the prospect see you differently. In addition, if you want a prospect to have a factory tour, you can walk them round your facility with a video camera. You do not have to persuade them to take time out of their schedule to physically visit you. Finally, the messaging system on Skype is another good pattern interrupt communication channel.
Aren’t these communication methods invasive?
Younger buyers are becoming increasingly used to using these channels. They often actually prefer sales people who use these forms of communication. They only become invasive if a buyer has expressed a preference for you not to use a particular channel.
It’s time to take action!
Make a commitment to yourself. Use just one of these communication channels during the next week. Test it out and see what results it gets you. I’m sure that they will be more effective than the phone or e-mail. You’ll be standing out to your prospects, just like the sales person who didn’t want to print my magazines stood out to me.
**Editor’s Note: This is part of a two-post series on strategies for winning new business:
- Strategies to Find (and Acquire) New Customers
- Stand out in a Crowd: How to Get Customers to Notice You
PS If you’d like more practical ideas on how to engage with today’s buyers, download my free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them” right now. You’ll also receive my regular “Views from the print buyer” bulletin, full of ideas on how to sell print effectively.