“A-I-D-A!  Attention.  Interest.  Decision.  Action. ” – We’ve known the keys to a winning sales message for a long time (at least ever since Alec Baldwin delivered them in his famous speech in Glengarry Glen Ross).   In addition to teaching us that “coffee is for closers,” we all know Alec is talking about something fundamentally true: In order to begin, we need to get our prospect’s attention and interest. Even more so now than when that movie was released.

Do I have your attention?

Your prospects are flooded with solicitation emails and calls every day. Few stand out, and most are instantly deleted. [tweet_dis]On average, recipients make a decision about deleting your email in 2.7 seconds[/tweet_dis]. 2.7 SECONDS!

But on flip side, 75% of IT execs –some of the most highly prospected individuals in the world – have taken an appointment from a cold call or email and a whopping 60% report that a cold call or email has bumped a new vendor into consideration.  So I’ll say it again, A-I-D-A!

In a recent blog post about prospecting fatigue, our CEO posted a snapshot of an IT execs inbox in a 3-hour period.

Prospecting FatigueHow on earth do you stand out amongst that clutter and junk??

Focus on Outcomes… or Hit the Bricks

Here’s the key: give them a reason to care.  For the love of Alec Baldwin, give them a GOOD reason to care.  Jill Konrath, author of SNAP Selling, tells us that one overarching  reason for most prospects to care is simply outcomes. Your prospects are measured on outcomes. [tweet_dis]Outcomes keep your prospects up at night.  [/tweet_dis]Your shiny widget’s benefits do not nor does a glowing description of your unique services or passion.  However, talk to them about specific outcomes like profitability, turnaround time, cost of goods sold,  speed to market, turnover, customer satisfaction or churn, productivity per employee, (the list goes on) – and when you’ve hit the mark, you’ve got them.

Here are a couple examples of winning messages that stand out amongst the clutter. The first is an email our CEO received from a ClearSlide rep, Will Elmore. The second email is from Michael Veschio, a Senior Sales Executive at DiscoverOrg.

clearslide Email Example

good god michael veschio


What do these have in common?  They speak to specific outcomes. In the email from the ClearSlide rep, the specific outcome is “increase revenue output per rep”.  In Michael’s, it’s “boost attendance at your events by up to 230%”.  If you think a sales-focused CEO like ours cares about the first email, you’re right.  Think a Demand Generation Marketing Manager cares about the second?  Right again.

The other key takeaway here is that both Will and Michael tailored their message to their audience.  The best marketing teams do this – it’s called segmentation – and the better they do it the more successful they are.  The best salespeople practice 1:1 tailoring of the overall winning sales message and can do it without sacrificing large portions of their day to do pre-call research.

Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson in The Challenger Sale tell us the best reaction to a winning sales message is not for your prospect to exclaim “I totally agree!”, instead the best reaction is “huh, I never thought of it that way…”  Agreement doesn’t spark change – it means they’ve already thought through what you’re telling them and haven’t cared enough to change – but thoughtful reflection is a different story. Now we’ve reframed the way they consider an issue, we have their attention and interest, and a chance to catalyze action.

You’re Talking About What? So, What?

So how do you craft your own winning sales message?  Start strategically, get tactical, finish with personalization.  Start with what you do and one of your ideal audience segments (one of ours is a Directors or VPs of Marketing at Technology Vendors) and then play the “So What?” game.

  • DiscoverOrg maps out the Technical, Sales & Marketing, Finance, and HR departments of 52,071 companies capturing constantly refreshed contact data on 700,000 Decision Makers.
    • But nobody cares about that, so the natural question to ask is…so what?
  • So most Marketers are dealing with bad data, in fact 80% only segment their messages by geography and industry, rather than by the actual roles of their audience and what their specific goals and concerns are.
    • So what?
  • So because the data is bad your campaigns aren’t getting delivered to the right people or when it is delivered it’s just got a generic message that doesn’t resonate with your audience, so you’re not getting the responses you could.
    • So….what….could we do differently?

The result is a winning message. Here’s a recent example crafted by one of our newest sales reps that we’ve seen a lot of success with:

Hey Patrick,
Below is a partial list of VPs and DMs responsible specifically for Data Management in Virginia.  [Personalized to reference their ideal audience]

 Buy data from anyone else, the best you can ask for is VPs/Directors of IT.  But we all know they’re not all the same.  The VP of IT who handles Application Development has drastically different responsibilities than the VP of IT who handles Infrastructure. [“hmm” moment]

Hit the wrong one with your message and suddenly you’re spammy.  DiscoverOrg ensures through incredibly in-depth, IT specific search parameters, that your message is personalized – and voila – our customers see an up to 300% increase in response rates. [specific outcome]

At the end, you want several things: 

  • Are we personalized?   Our Sales Rep changes the first line according to the prospect’s ideal prospects.
  • Are we reframing the way they thought of an issue?   Most marketers are just getting generic data/lists of “VPs of IT”, and many haven’t considered that isn’t specific enough.
  • Are we speaking to specific outcomes? Check. We’re seeing a 300% increase in response rates.

If at first you don’t succeed…

Finally – how do you know if your message works?  You test it.  Test two messages and pick the best.  Then test the winner with another new message.  Continue testing until you have a message with a response rate (whether it’s delivered over email, phone, or in-person) that crushes all the old ones.  But that’s a subject for another post.

What is your winning message?  Tell us in the comments below.

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About the author

Patrick Purvis

As Senior VP of Revenue, Patrick manages sales and customer success at DiscoverOrg, where he is responsible for strategic account growth. Formerly Chief Revenue Officer, Purvis is a graduate of Oregon State University where he studied Economics.