This is a guest post by Eileen Kent, Federal Sales Sherpa.
Many companies turn to me and say, “How do I approach my federal customer first? Should I reach out via email, phone, text, proposal, networking event, unsolicited proposal, small business liaison, industry days or pre-proposal meeting?”
My answer is always: “It depends on the time of year, the client you’re calling, the service or product you offer, whether or not they have a bid posted on the public bid sites for what you do, and their willingness to even hear what you have to say because they might already have a long-term relationship with someone else.”
But for now, let’s consider starting by writing a compelling email that might just capture their attention. First of all, writing an email personalized to the reader and their professional role is critical. If it’s “canned” they’re going to throw it into the junk mail and block your emails.
You need to make it personal showing them you “get” their business and you completely “get” them. Also, a rule of thumb when emailing federal customers is that you cannot put in photos or “hotlinks” (if you share a link, the whole link needs to appear for it to go through their government filters).
Start first by considering your recipient, specifically:
- Who are they?
- What is their title?
- What do you think they do all day?
- Where do they work?
- Then, write down what may slow them down, or keep them up at night?
- Think about how you can help in a pinch.
Then write a subject line and an opening paragraph that addresses the pain – and how you solve it – and offers a solution. Keep it short and sweet – use Twitter as your guide and keep it to less than 140 characters if you can!
Here are a few examples of pain-based subject lines and customers/recipients:
- Temporary, modifiable furniture delivered in 48 hours (for facility managers who need to fill a temporary need)
- Experienced union production crew available same day (for production companies who may have last minute production opportunities)
- Industrial supplies delivered to your location in two hours (for locations within 10 miles of you who may need quick ordering and delivery)
- Same-day crisis communications developed, written and deployed (for communications executives who may need another perspective on how to handle a crisis and communicate to the public)
- Writing a pain-based email requires: knowing your customer, proposing a unique cure and offering a call-to-action. Need help? xxx-xxx-xxxx. (for federal contractors looking to connect with government buyers)
A personalized, pain-based series of email subject lines followed up with solutions in the first 140 characters of your message could get your clients to call you faster. If you follow up with additional supportive emails and voicemails the client will eventually learn all the problems you solve, even if they don’t answer the phone, and they’ll
call you when they finally can’t stand the pain any longer and they need your expertise.
Establishing your company as the expert problem-solver before they even return your call sets your sales team and subject matter experts up for success – and an easier sales cycle. Just like someone seeing a doctor and then being sent to a specialist, your client (the patient in pain) is ready for a cure and ready to tell you everything.
Always remember: Customers, yes including federal customers, buy from companies they know, trust and love.
Eileen Kent is known as the Federal Sales Sherpa. She helps companies with her “Three-Step Program” and her elite “Sherpa for a Year” coaching program. For more information contact Eileen today.