By Joshua Baez, Marketing Coordinator, Heinz Marketing

With the inception of new communication tools, connecting with other people has been made easier than ever.  From instant messaging to texting to emails to phone calls, there’s not much holding you back from being able to communicate with others no matter where you are in the world.

But with the abundance of channels and platforms, one has to ask if whether or not the quality of communication has been replaced by quantity.  With so many options to choose from, our digital library of communication tools has been thrown open, but just because a tool is available doesn’t mean that it’s being used to its full potential.  To fully master the tools at your disposal, you first need to be aware of everything these tools have to offer.

Phone Calls

Phone calls are perhaps the most basic form of communication in business because they are tried and true.  Phone calls get the job done without any flash or fluff.  Though cold calling isn’t necessarily the best use of your time, you can utilize phone calls to warm up cold leads.

It’s important to remember, however, that a phone call works best when there is a pre-existing relationship behind it.  Though this relationship can vary based on the degree to which the parties know each other, a phone call without an established foundation is usually unwanted and, at times, alarming to the recipient.  Whether your relationship with the other party is based on years of friendship or you’ve made the call because of a mutual colleague, a jumping off point to begin your conversation is sometimes all it takes for a phone call to turn into a meeting.

Email

The next form of communication is email, which is likely the channel you use the most.  Obviously, you know how to use your email, but sometimes best practices in writing sales emails are forgotten or ignored.

Ginny Soskey at Hubspot says that your subject line is “your very first impression of the email—and from it, you’ll do your best to judge the content on the inside.”  If your subject line fails to generate interest, you’ve immediately lost out on a business opportunity.  Your subject line should act as the hook for the rest of your email—use it to generate interest, spark curiosity, or address a pain point your prospect could be facing.

Once your subject line has drawn your prospect in, the body of your email needs to finish the job.  Think of your email like a trail of breadcrumbs, leading your reader down the page all while generating interest in your product, and hopefully, leading to scheduling a meeting.  The first sentence should draw your reader in by addressing one of their pain points or interests.

“In sales, interpersonal relationships and effective communication are necessary for long-term success.”

Once you’ve gotten their attention, speak to the value of your product without mentioning the product itself.  Value selling is incredibly important, and with the sheer amount of products out there, if you can’t speak to your product’s value, you might need to rethink your sales strategy.  In addition to value, you also need to give your prospect a reason to talk to you.  Before considering you, they’ll likely ask their self “What’s in it for me?” and if your email fails to answer that question, the opportunity is lost.

Lastly, you need to make sure your call to action is clear, specific, and actionable.  If you’re presenting them with an offer, “Download Now.”  If you’re introducing yourself and your product, “Let’s schedule a time to call.”  A strong call to action will reduce ambiguity and make it clear to your prospect what their next step should be.

Social Media

Another major channel of communication, and one that encompasses a whole spectrum of tools, is social media.  For the sake of brevity, let’s discuss the three most popular social media channels: Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

Facebook

At its inception, Facebook was the height of social media, but some twelve years later, it has become somewhat of a dark horse, falling behind due to new algorithms which essentially force one to pay for visibility.  While Facebook is great for organizations who already have a large following, it has become increasingly difficult for smaller companies to make an impact.

Paid advertising has become a major feature of Facebook, one that is required for any of your posts to be seen.  If you don’t commit to paid advertising on Facebook, you’ll find your social posts will only reach a small percentage of your overall audience, and for companies who only have hundreds of followers to begin with, social reach is even more important.

However, that isn’t to say that Facebook lacks benefits.  Besides the fact that it just adds to your overall coverage, Facebook also lets you connect with people on a more personal level, unhindered by character limits or a “business-only” atmosphere.  However, as with phone calls, it’s important that you establish a connection with your prospect before sending them a Facebook message out of the blue.

If you have a Facebook for your company—use it.  If you don’t have one, though you might not need it, it’s still good to have.  In the arena of social media, coverage is everything.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a major platform for business professionals to connect and communicate with one another in a suitable environment.  Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn is where you should be sending more business-oriented messages.  However, sending an invitation on LinkedIn should not be confused with making a connection.

When you send an invitation on LinkedIn, it’s important that you make it personal.  Joanne Black says that when it comes to LinkedIn invitations, she values a personal greeting and a reason for reaching out.   Tell the recipient how you know them and why you’d like to add them to your professional network.

Adding this personalization shows the recipient that you’re not just trying to use them for your own gains, but that you’re genuinely trying to make a connection.  It also shows that you’re not just blindly adding people suggested by LinkedIn.  There is a lot of value in a personal message, especially in this age where everything seems to be automated and robotic.  Adding a hint of personality and uniqueness to your LinkedIn message will open up the doors to begin a conversation, and that can lead to a very valuable opportunity.

Twitter

Twitter has become a major channel for business professionals to connect, interact, and share original content.  Unlike Facebook, Twitter doesn’t require you to pay for visibility.  And unlike LinkedIn, Twitter can be a much more business-casual environment.  You can message others without causing alarm, tweet at other handles from any account—personal, professional, or company, and you can seamlessly share your own content while amplifying other’s.

As Twitter has grown, so has the way in which users engage with others.  It has become incredibly easy to find new prospects through Twitter since you’re unhindered by the need to be connected with them.  Additionally, you’re able to start a conversation, ask questions, and share feedback with users, which can be incredibly valuable when you start thinking about individuals you might want to start working with.

In addition to publicly messaging someone, you’re also able to send people private messages—this is where the magic happens.  There are multiple tools you can use to effectively utilize your messages on Twitter, but one tool in particular gives you incredibly valuable resources to manage your prospects.  Socedo allows you to not only automatically send messages to new followers, but also gives you the option to A/B test your messages.

Here, you can choose to offer different assets and change the language of the message to see which gets the best result.  Additionally, you’re able to target specific followers based on keywords, so they get sent targeted messages that align with their interests and position within their company.

Twitter direct messages offer you the most in regards to flexibility of language and intent.  Out of the three social media channels, while each has their place, Twitter surely holds the most ground.

Conclusion

The diversity of communication channels at our fingertips is immense, but the central intention should always be the same—to make a connection.  Without a connection, a prospect has no reason to buy from you.  Without a connection, a prospect has no reason to talk to you.  Without a connection, you cannot build trust, value, or a real relationship with a prospect.

Sherry Turkle has said that the ease of communication has allowed us to be constantly connected, while simultaneously hiding us from others.  It has made us lazy and has caused us to think that real, meaningful communication comes in the form of an automated message or a “Like” on a social post.  This is not what it means to make a connection.  Making a connection means that you’re providing something meaningful to another.

Are you proving your worth or firing blindly into the unknown hoping something will stick?  Are you creating meaningful dialogue or talking for the sake of talking?  Are you making a product pitch or selling the value of what your product can do?  Are you staying with the herd or separating yourself from the sea of competition?

These are the questions you need to ask yourself when you begin to engage in a dialogue.  Whatever your overall goals are, creating a connection with a prospect should always be at the top of your priority list.  Be more than someone trying to make their number.

Be meaningful, be honest, and create a foundation upon which you can build something greater.