An average professional receives around 100-120 emails/day. A minimum of 60% of these are marketing and sales emails attempting to push you down their respective sales funnels.

How many of these emails are you really reading through?

I’m willing to bet that you’re deleting half of them just after reading their subject lines and mentally categorizing them as “Yay”, “Nay” or “Later” as you choose to press the delete button while scrolling down!! AM I right?

As a tech startup that’s focusing on strengthening its position and reach, we are using a combination of inbound and outbound sales at Alore. We are huge fans of DRIP campaigns and have found them to be working really well for us for years (even before Alore). In fact, it was the reason why we chose to have the DRIP campaign feature in our tool in the first place!

While we’re experimenting with several styles of selling, we’re seeing one that’s working really well for us – “Permission Based Selling”

What is Permission based selling :

It is a non-traditional selling technique which harbors on salespeople reaching out with details or stronger engagement tactics after they have received permission from the prospect to do so over call, email or opt-in forms etc.

It is similar to the concept of Permission based marketing which Seth Godin introduced in 1999 which talks about 5 kinds of permissions:

  • Situational permission: The prospect allows the salesperson /business to come into contact by providing their personal information.
  • Brand trust: The prospect permits the business to continue sharing information or deliverables.
  • Personal relationship: The prospects give permission to be reached owing to a personal relationship that they have with someone in the salesperson’s organization.
  • Points permission: Prospects gives permission to receive goods or services and allows the salesperson/ business to collect their personal data in lieu of incentives.
  • Intravenous permission: The salesperson or their business completely takes over the supply function for a specific good or a service; the prospect becomes a customer and is completely dependent on the business ( Source: Seth Godin’s book Permission marketing)

As salespeople, we are conditioned and cozy to the idea of cold outreach and just pushing our information to every name on our list. However, what we often don’t take too much thought is into considering if the prospect is engaging as much as we’d like them to with our email. Having good pen rates is not enough. It’s building the relationship that should be your goal!

Now an email open rate depends upon numerous key factors:

a) Subject Line

b) Time of sending

c) Day of sending

d) Personalization

e) email Copy etc.

Let’s say you got the first four right. Number five is about the relationship and “ask”. You have to have an email copy that not just creates a connection but also has the prospect imagining you talking to them in a friendly way. That’s when you build a bridge that converts into a relationship.

You need to ensure you come across as delivering real value, not being pushy and in control of the invisible dynamic? and Permission based selling helps you build this bridge real quick.

How it works:

Let’s say you have an amazing curated list of 500 prospects who you think have a 50% chance of converting. You need to first warm the prospects to see if they are interested in your services/products. So, you create a networking event in their vicinity or a whitepaper or coupon code to try out a tool etc. Now you have two ways to go about it:

Regular selling:

Write a very well-crafted yet generic email sharing the whitepaper or industry data or invitation to an event etc. to warm them up.

Expected result: You hope they’ve read and reply to thank you for it when they read your email. Thereafter you will begin building a conversation with them.

Permission based selling:

You write a well-crafted email which talks about your respecting their time and you not wanting to clog their inbox with extra info. Talk about your event or whitepaper and “ASK” for the prospect’s permission to send you the whitepaper or details of the event or whatever it is that you’d like to tempt them with. Ensure you throw in a bit of FOMO by mentioning how you’ve had great feedback for the whitepaper or the networking event’s attendees generally discuss something futuristic to the industry etc.

Expected Result: If they’re interested in the services you offer or perceive that as a pain area, they will surely reach out to you and that additionally helps qualify them as leads. It also goes one step further into them making the ask and therefore building a stronger and quicker bridge between you and them.

Why does permission based selling work?

Permission based selling works for a number of reasons:

1) Salespeople come across as less salesy and pushy which is a refreshing change to most prospects.

2) The FOMO created by not having direct access to something others are already benefitting from tempts most prospects into replying back to ask for the sell.

3) Unsolicited calls and emails bombard prospects each day with hundreds of emails coming to their inbox. It’s human tendency to push non-business urgent-looking “free stuff” down our priority list to have a look at later. However, when the access isn’t direct (the whitepaper or event details etc. aren’t available to save for later), most prospects just shoot a quick reply before they forget it.

4) Prospects appreciate you sharing “Actual” value!

5) It is founded on the modern maxim -” People love to buy, but hate to be sold to”. Prospects like to feel that they are in control of the situation and flow of information.

6) Prospects ask for information only if it strikes a chord with them and they find it relevant. This automatically helps the salespersons in qualifying the prospect to a warm lead or cold one.

7) It’s a consultative approach, easy to execute and it works

The benefits:

1. It’s a massive boost in productivity because you are qualifying leads at the start so it means costs and time saved.

2. Permission based marketing delves onto an exchange of value in the first place with the prospect feeling like he/she has the upper hand in controlling the initial relationship. This generally leads to long-term relationships if handled well.

3. Permission based selling is a step towards refining the sales process you have. It can be established at every step from introducing yourself to closing the deal or asking for a referral!

Key Points to note:

1. Get those subject lines right!! It ends before it has even begun if you’ve not paid enough attention to this one.

2. Don’t get myopic about the conversation and sound salesy, pushy or aggressive. This is actually a scientifically proven fact that there is neurochemistry involved in conversations and the way we talk induces actual positive and negative hormones in the prospect’s mind.

3. Permission based selling means you’re asking a question right? Don’t get cocky or manipulative when framing this question. Go by the KISS principle – “Keep it simple stupid”!! e.g. just ask “Can I send you some relevant industry data we collected from 210 companies on xyz topic “. Don’t even try something like “Hey your business might terribly lose out if you don’t read my report on xyz” – Remember – You’re not challenging the prospect but humbly checking in with him and stating facts in a subtle way.

4. Come across as humble, empathetic with a genuine desire to understand and share.

5. Ask just ONE question in your first email. You don’t wanna irk the prospects with multiple asks. In a very interesting essay on “sales and questions” by Scott Edinger on HBR, he talks about the need to avoid asking a checklist of questions and worse still to be perceived by the prospect as being asked questions from a checklist. Don’t. Do. This.

To conclude I’d like to ask my fellow salespeople from across the globe to try this amazing way to sell without being salesy !  Permission based selling refines the sales process much better and leads it into a productive direction. salespeople can qualify prospects early on and therefor channelize their energies on deals that are most likely to close.

For those who want to get a quick start and try this method out, sharing two templates which you can tweak to your need and industry and try permission based selling. and in case you’re looking for a tool to experiment your DRIP campaigns for you can try a 2 week free trial period of Alore here! (No, you don’t have to enter any credit card details or commit your soul to the tool 😉 Just have fun and see how well permission based selling works !! )

Sample email for permission based self-introduction:

Dear {First_name}

Hope you’re having a wonderful week so far!

I’m {Your_name}, and {your designation} at {Your_company_name}

I came across your recent posts on {wherever, whatever you’ve researched on them} and found them insightful and actionable. Since we also {point of synergy between prospect and you}, I thought it would be great to reach out and say hello.

Honestly, I didn’t want to come across as pushy or someone who clogs inboxes with gigantic fluffy attachments, so I thought I’d check with you if you’d like me to send you a short note on our company and what we do.

Regards,

{Senders_name}

{Designation}, {Comapany_name}

Sample email to ask for permission-based sell:

Dear {First_name}

Hope you’re doing great!

Recently I came upon this valuable industry data that I compiled into a neat report to send it to our customers. However, since I’ve been following your work/ your company’s work for a bit, I thought it would be something that interests you as well!

I didn’t want to come across as pushy and thought it best to ask for your permission to share the Guidebook on “XYZ” with you.

Best,

{Senders_name}

{Designation}, {Company_name}

Happy selling !