I once worked with a firm where one particular sales employee had a strange-but-effective approach to doing prospecting calls. It was something he called "the pattern interrupt."

Early each week, he would take half an hour to jot down different opening lines for his cold calls, lines that were unusual ways to start sales conversations. He might research the potential client's local weather and open a call with "Hey Trish, is it raining?" Or he'd start the call in the voice of a mock game show host: "Greg, you're the winner of another fabulous cold call from your favorite sales rep!"

Some co-workers thought he was obnoxious, but this guy always exceeded his sales quota in terms of meetings booked and deals closed. His weird "pattern interrupt" worked because it shocked the prospective customer out of their familiar cold call routine and forced them to consider their response. Their guard considerably lowered, that person was usually more open to talking.

Bizarre as the approach was, this guy was onto something. As salespeople, we're often taught to be slick and sophisticated when dealing with clients. But more often than you'd think, your quirks and eccentricities can be just as effective for starting sales conversations, whether over the phone or in a cold email.

Here are three ways to highlight your own weirdness when dealing with potential clients:

1. Pick a "weird" trait that feels genuine to your personality.

Before you stop reading and try a clever one-liner, it's important to understand that the above salesperson's pattern-interrupt strategy worked because it was 100 percent in line with his personality. He was a goofball by nature; it wasn't hard for him to integrate those opening lines into an otherwise-serious sales call.

Picking a character trait that came natural to him also made this "human" side of seem authentic. In other words, a potential customer wouldn't hear "Hey, Trish, is it raining?" and automatically think, Wow, this guy is trying way too hard.

Think about your own unusual character traits that come naturally. Do you have deep knowledge of an interesting topic, like fishing or history? Can you do insanely complex math calculations in your head? Do you have an uncanny ability to pick the right meme at the right time?

Remember, though, that showing off your weird side should never take priority over helping a potential customer with their business problems. Let it complement the conversation, not dominate it. It's easier to make that happen when it's something you're comfortable with.

2. Cater your weirdness to your audience--at least a little.

Your weirdness can be anything that helps tell the prospective customer get to know you on a unique level.

But don't be too weird. You'll alienate a lot of prospective customers if you choose a character trait you think is lovable but someone else finds alienating. For example, you may love sarcasm and snark, but in reality, there are many executives who either dislike that kind of humor or just don't get it. Or you might think wearing your sunglasses indoors shows makes you "the cool dude," when actually, you just look stupid and people may potentially think you're intoxicated or mentally unstable.

Certainly, being bold and gently pushing boundaries makes you memorable, especially if you do it from the start of the sales relationship. Just make sure you've done your research beforehand and know which boundaries to push.

3. But don't be afraid to stand by your weirdness.

On the other hand, don't be so worried about alienating people you edit your entire personality out of the conversation.

At SalesFolk, our logo is an orange goat. Last time I checked, goats don't inherently have too much to do with sales and cold email, but it has special significance to me and my life, and I wanted it to represent our company. It's weird, but it also makes sense for our brand. Goats are resourceful animals, and SalesFolk is a company of independent thinkers who aren't afraid to try new things.

Be creative, that's the whole point. If you can smoothly work your Game of Thrones obsession or your dry sense of humor into a sales conversation without overpowering it, by all means, go for it. Boldly sticking to your weird side will often serve you better in the end than anything you learned in business school.

How do you use your weirdness in sales emails? I'd love to read about it in the comments.

Published on: Dec 12, 2017
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