The Fear of Being Annoying
The fear of annoying people can put your sales momentum into neutral. When discussing new ways of building sales, every suggested change is greeted by the “but we don’t want to annoy our customers” excuse. I am convinced that this is just a way to justify status quo and to avoid something new that might appear risky. By risky, I am talking about you opening yourself up for criticism because someone might not like what you are doing. In my experience, no matter what you do, there will be someone who will find it annoying.
Let me give you an example: earlier in the year, I spoke at a conference and offered a free sales course that attendees at the conference could sign up. About a week after the conference I got an angry email for a lady stating that they thought the course should be longer and contain more specific examples for her industry. I replied that if she had specific questions that she felt the course content didn’t cover, I would be happy to answer them. The email response I got back in described in great detail what an idiot I was and that I shouldn’t expect students to do my work for me. Ouch.
So, based on the negative criticism of one person who is having a bad day (or life), should I not offer the free course? Nope, I just assume that prospect would not be a good fit for what I do in my business. People will unsubscribe from your email list and publish nasty comments or disagree with your blog posts, hang up on your phone call or suggest that they find the mailing pop-up on your website annoying. If you try and do things that everyone will love, you will tie yourself up in knots. You would never take a stand or dare even have an opinion because by doing so you run the risk that you will alienate people.
Let me share with you two examples of clients who have benefited from ignoring that “I don’t want to be annoying” impulse.
Tradeshow Follow Up
Following up with prospects after a trade show often strikes fear into clients because they do not want to appear too pushy and make the false assumption that if a prospect needs their services, they will contact them. The client developed a simple lead follow-up strategy that involved five emails and two phone calls strategically timed during the 21 days after the trade show. The results were an increase of 600% in sales attributed to participation in trade shows during the year. The annoyance factor never materialized as over 1300 prospects received this follow up and only three prospects asked not to be called again and two unsubscribed from getting further emails. Not exactly the tidal wave of angry prospects complains that the business owner secretly thought would happen.
Too Many Emails
One client was sure they were sending out too many emails as she had a few subscribers unsubscribe over the past emails she sent out. After looking at her emails which were great and full of value to her clients, I suggested sending more email not less. As a test, we took new subscribers from a recent conference and put them into a campaign that gave them more than twice the amount of email, then her regular email sequence. The outcome was an increase in sales with the unsubscribe rate with a lower unsubscribe rate. Over the 90 days, the people getting more email registered no spam complaints, but the list with fewer emails has a full 10% of people who unsubscribed marked the email as spam. With this client, the problem was that it was so long between emails that her subscribers often forgot they signed up for her email.
Can You Annoy Your Prospects?
Yes, absolutely but if you follow this simple principle, you will be less likely to be annoying. Is your interaction with the prospect or client adding value or is it self-serving? Is my interaction about them or me?
If the subject of your communication is about you, don’t send it until you can remove the focus from “what you do” to “helping them with their problems or challenges.” If you lead with being generous, you will find that you are less likely to be annoying.
One final note is that unsubscribes, negative comments and rudeness are part of running a business. If you are actively doing sales and marketing activity, you will get some negative feedback. As Grandma used to say “Dog don’t bark at parked cars.” Always remember a complaint is one data point, and changes shouldn’t be made based on just one piece of data.