In today’s world, we have literally seconds to get people’s attention, which is why the first few words that come out of our mouths on a call, or the subject and first lines in an "introducing yourself" email, can make all the difference for whether or not people engage with us.
Think about it — when you look at emails on your mobile phone, you look at the name of the person. And if you don’t recognize the name, you look at the subject line. And if the subject line doesn’t capture your attention, you delete the message or move on. If you get a call from an autodialer and realize you’ll have to say hello twice because of the slight pause before the rep starts talking, I guarantee you’ll hang up after your first hello.
I like to use the old “attention, interest, desire, action” (AIDA) model referenced in the film Glengarry Glen Ross as a guideline to help me structure my messaging. In 1898, a guy by the name of Elias St. Elmo Lewis came up with the AIDA model. Before someone buys something, it first needs to get their attention. Then they need to be interested in it, then they have to have a desire for it. Finally, they act.
Again, the decision to give or deny attention is made in the first seconds, which then earns us a few minutes where we can gain their interest. We can then work to create desire and move them to take action. Prospecting isn’t really about selling your products or services. It’s about selling the next step. It’s about selling time. When you’re prospecting, you’re selling attention and interest.
In terms of attention, there’s one universal truth in sales and human behavior that I’ve found to be accurate no matter where I go: The number one thing on the planet that everyone loves talking about is themselves. This is also the number one problem in sales: We all love talking about ourselves.
This is why the “I’d like to introduce myself to you” email never works. No one cares. This is also why I try to avoid boring the client with the first three slides in every company slide deck (1-Background/history, 2-Awards, 3-Client List) and try to focus more on what I know about the client. If you want to get someone’s attention, focus on them, not you.