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How to Reach Prospects on this “Touchy” Issue

How to Reach Prospects on this “Touchy” Issue

August 14, 2014 | By Mac Bull | 2 Comments

handle with careIn the world of prospecting, one may come across a questionable website or other marketing materials that seem to fall short of expectations. In light of this, when a prospect has a poorly-written website, weak call-to-action, or errors in their advertisement, they seem like a great target to reach out to.

After all, we are marketing-savvy copywriters, it’s our job and joy to tackle this stuff. This can be true, but when you do reach out, you are likely find aggressive bashing in your direction.It’s a sensitive issue. So get ready, as you will face anger, resentment, and insults many times before you find a prospect open to your ideas. I have traveled this path many times, and faced the wrath of angry prospects more times than I want to admit.

However, luckily, through all this, I have discovered an effective way to do this that doesn’t involve infuriating prospects. And now, I will share it with you …

The “Touchy” Issue

So why is this such a sensitive and touchy issue? After all, you are reaching out in an informative manner. In addition, you are honestly trying to be helpful. Yet, you often find yourself backed up against a wall and facing an angered prospect. How can this be?

It’s because you are pointing out a shortcoming or flaw. Very few people like to be told they are wrong. In turn, more often than not, your perfect prospect will take offense. This means they have traveled from perfect prospect to newfound enemy. This will still be the case, even if you tiptoe around the subject and take great pains in forming a diplomatic or friendly approach. Such as:

Hello Mr. Patterson,

I was searching the Internet when I came across your website. I really like the professional layout and design of your website. It looks great and it is clear that a lot of effort went into it. In that regard, I had some ideas on how you could sharpen up your web copy. May I share them with you in a follow-up email or phone call?

Sincerely,
(your contact details here)

A strong effort there in being kind and soft-spoken.

Sadly, they hear:

“Hey, Dingbat! Your website is very poorly written.”

Or

“What on Earth are you doing pal? Are you completely tuned out to the fact that your precious website is the weakest … EVER!”

Or something else along that line. Again, regardless of how polished your approach is, this is what they hear. Then the fire-breathing dragon is unleashed. And I truly hope that you are not on a video call when making this approach, because then you get the visual along with the fire. Yes, an experience I wish upon no one …

However, there is yet another factor that ties into this. It is more in the area of B2C, but if you take on the occasional B2C client or project, then you need to be highly-tuned into this fact. That being that these “errors” are (in some cases) warranted. They are split-tested against a different or more flawless form. If the typo-filled piece or “soft” call-to-action brings in higher results, then that is what they will use, and justly so. I have a contact in the B2C field who has justified and explained this to me several times. Surely it doesn’t stop there, I believe that in some form it applies to B2B as well. So it is good to at least be aware of.

The Approach

What is one to do?

Is there any way to do this effectively?

Yes, there is and I have a tested and proven method that works. As stated earlier, it has brought me good results, and soon it will be time for it to bring good results for you.The method is to simply show interest and curiosity in what they are doing. The key word here is “simple” and that is the form your approach should take. The approach comes down to a three-step formula. Like this:

1. Engage using curiosity as your tool.
2. Enter a conversation around this.  
3. Build trust and move forward accordingly.

It should look something like this:

Hello Mr. Patterson,

I was searching the Internet when I came across your website. I really like the professional layout and design of your website. It looks great and it is clear that a lot of time, effort, and thought went into it. In that regard, as a B2B copywriter, I am curious. May I ask, how is your website and your web copy working for you?

If you could send me an email or give me a call, I’d love to hear your results.

Sincerely,
(your contact details here)

You could add a bit more, but at the core level, this should be your message.

Why it Works

This method works because it is a direct approach that shows interest and curiosity in their business and related efforts. It is direct, but it is a flip to pointing out flaws and shortcomings. Furthermore, it is an ice breaker that has a bit of “ego stroke,” which always helps because it makes them feel good. It also puts them in the power position. Let them be the one to come to you and say that things are less than par. Next, this opens the door to discussion. Now you are “in,” so you can softly and safely lead into …

Did you try this? Or “Did you consider or test this?” Or “Would you be open to trying this?” … and so on. Given the reply you receive, gauge the situation, and move forward accordingly.

Take Action

Is your mind beginning to bubble with similar thoughts and ideas? Good, because this is probably not the “only” way to do this. I hope you test this out and even find new versions that work well for you and your niche. However, this method has served me well and I firmly believe that you can benefit greatly using it as is.

That being said, I want to offer a word of caution. Be careful of those who require a lot of teaching. Once you engage, you may find that they are a poor prospect that needs a lot of hand-holding and “pointing the way.” Keep clear of this type of prospect, as they will run you dry, and then run you some more. However, if you are made of steel and have the highest level of patience, then you may find a very solid client in the end. The question will be, are they “worth” the time and effort for what you get in return?

In closing, let’s recap the three-step formula. The “approach method” is to:

1. Engage using curiosity as your tool.
2. Enter a conversation around this.
3. Build trust and move forward accordingly.

Do this and experience fantastic results, rather than the prospect’s fiery rage.

About the Author

Mac Bull

Latest in B2B Copywriting

2 Comments

  • Well said Mac.

    In a coincidence, I was actually on the receiving end of a similar type of email just today. Which I’ll relate here just to show the type of response an email can elicit.

    The Director of Inbound Marketing at a web design firm emailed me with a nice email about possibly linking to a long-form guide his team wrote. In his email he nicely pointed out that I linked to a mutual article that is one of “his faves”, and “would I consider linking to his long form guide in my article?”

    A nice enough email that I actually replied and complimented his article. I actually didn’t want to link to his guide, but thought it might be a strategic relationship to cultivate since he worked for a web design firm (in the spirit of networking, you know?)

    Well, his response back just eliminated ANY good will he created with his nice initial email. Essentially, I felt like his response was more like a critique of how to do my job. Here he was, a stranger to me, telling me how to do my job…which I’ve been doing, professionally, for over 13 years. That may not have been his intention, but that was my reaction. That was the power his words had on me.

    Needless to say, I will NOT be responding to his email, and I’ll be trashing it immediately. What surprised me is that I had this reaction as an experienced professional writer that doesn’t normally have personal reactions to feedback/comments like this! I know enough to divorce my personal feelings from my writing, but when you read a suggestion like this, it can be hard NOT to have an emotional reaction.

    As a copywriter, you understand that WORDS HAVE POWER. Just like you know how to choose the right ones to elicit a response from your readers on behalf of your clients, choose the right ones FOR YOUR BUSINESS TOO.

    THIS is why Mac’s article is so critical to us freelancers. If you don’t want to offend, or emotionally hijack any potential client, MAKE SURE you take Mac’s advice to heart. Otherwise your email will just go in the Trash.

    Thanks Mac for the reminder and pointers!

  • Great perspective, Mac. It’s hard to show that you can do something better without raising some feathers here and there. I like your approach – it eases into a conversation without ruffling those feathers and also sets you up as a professional. Julia’s comment – wow. That really drives it home. It kind of reminds me of those spammy comments I get on my website telling me that my SEO is bad. Only I don’t take those personally, since I know it’s all automated nonsense. But Julia’s comment shows how you CAN evoke some very powerful negative emotion when it’s a real person on the other end. Your approach builds rapport instead. Thanks!

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