How to Practice Gratitude (And Move Prospects Through the Pipeline Faster)

It doesn’t matter what company you work for; what stage you’re at in your sales career; or whether you prefer to use emails, phone calls, or LinkedIn messages when you’re prospecting — the biggest problem that all sales and customer success reps struggle with is still the same: ensuring your ideal prospects convert.

According to Salesforce, an average of 58% of the deals in your pipeline will stall. So clearly, the numbers aren’t in our favor.

In this article, we’ll look at an unusual way to move prospects through the pipeline faster — by practicing gratitude and showing appreciation throughout the sales process. First, let’s look at why this is so important.

3 Reasons Deals Don’t Close More Quickly

Let’s take a moment to ask the cringey question, “Why don’t deals close more quickly,” or rather, ”Why don’t they close at all?” This issue starts with an inability to break through today’s digital noise and elicit responses from prospective buyers.

Think about it. It’s no secret that between emails, voicemails, text messages, social media DMs, Slack, and Microsoft Teams, it’s difficult for us to reach deep connections and grow our professional relationships to broaden our books of business.

In fact, over the years, these clashing conversational channels have changed the sales landscape in three major ways:

1. An Increased Number of Touchpoints

For starters, more digital noise means more touchpoints. According to ZoomInfo, fifteen years ago the average consumer typically required two touch points when buying an item, and only 7% of consumers regularly used more than four. Today, customers require an average of almost six touch points, with 50% repeatedly using more than four.

2. A Lengthier Buyer’s Journey

This increase in touchpoints means that the buyer’s journey has become longer. Back in 2007, it used to take an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a lead. Now, it’s more than doubled to an average of 8 cold calls.

3. Difficulty Forming Professional Relationships

As a result of this lengthened buyer’s journey, we have an even BIGGER problem: It’s now become harder for salespeople to form genuine professional relationships that lead to true revenue growth.

How to Move Contacts Through the Funnel Faster

Luckily for us, there’s a very simple solution that can help you break through the noise, defy the sales industry’s current status quo, and separate yourself from the pack while boosting liking and loyalty that leads to future opportunities.

And that’s to practice gratitude.

Yes, this simple but effective concept can help us convert contacts at each stage of the buyer’s journey — from awareness, consideration, and decision to eventual client advocacy.

If you’re feeling somewhat skeptical, there is a science behind showing gratitude that is backed by a study from Harvard Medical School. When gratitude is displayed and communicated:

  • People feel more valued.
  • They develop stronger connections.
  • They they become more loyal.

But that’s not all. When you practice gratitude, you generate feelings of reciprocity in the other person. Basically, if you provide something of value, the recipient wants to provide something of value in return.

Think back to your childhood for a second. We all had that classmate who would throw a big birthday party every year and include the entire grade on the invite list. As a result of this kind, inclusive gesture, he or she became more likeable, gained a large group of friends, and collected a bunch of invitations to attend others’ parties in return.

When considerate gestures like that are practiced in business exchanges, this same concept of reciprocity can elicit long-term ROI by giving way to greater business opportunities.

So, let’s explore three ways you can easily build rapport that leads to reciprocity with your prospective and current partners, so you can move them through the pipeline faster.

4 Tips to Practice Gratitude in Sales

Tip #1: Increase Response Rates with Personalized Outreach

It’s easy to start firing off large batches of emails in hopes of acquiring the most responses possible from your prospects.

However, this type of mass outreach won’t yield many replies. Instead, try incorporating personalization into your outreach strategy.

Sure, personalized outreach may sound somewhat scary. But there’s no need to panic. Including personalization can be as basic as altering your email messaging. Try these three techniques to catch your prospects’ attention and ensure that they respond:

1. Put Your Prospects’ Names in Your Subject Lines

Personal details such as putting your prospects’ name in the subject line will get you one step closer to more closed won deals. Not only can email personalization increase your reply rate by 100%, the simple strategy of including personalized references in your email subject lines can actually boost cold email open rate by 22.2%.

Pro tip: When adding people’s names to your subject lines, remember to make sure they’re spelled correctly!

2. Customize Your Email Snippets

Since an email snippet is the first line of text that the recipient will see after the subject line, this is a second section of your email that can be used to elicit responses from your contacts.

Not only can custom snippets double your reply rate, they also provide a prime opportunity for you to mention something that speaks directly to the people you’re trying to reach.

To increase the likelihood of evoking a reply, try using their LinkedIn profiles to identify connections and common interests, and then call those out in your snippets.

Whether you and one of your prospects both went to high schools in the same district, mutually follow an influencer, or are part of a specific LinkedIn group, it’s worth giving these types of similarities a mention. And if you have a contact in common, name dropping that person could work in your favor (provided your relationship is strong enough).

3. Share an Expression of Gratitude

Try sharing an expression of gratitude to pique their interest and ensure your messages stand out. According to a study discussed by the New York Times, recipients of emailed expressions of gratitude feel noticeably more “ecstatic” afterwards.

Tip #2: Avoid Pre-Close Ghosting By Leveraging Emotional Intelligence

We’ve all been there. We got a response from a key stakeholder we’d been trying to reach — and daydreamed of marking closed won — and then all of a sudden, they stopped replying to our email thread or missed a scheduled meeting.

Well, fortunately, there’s an easy way to re-engage potentially lost leads. We can leverage emotional intelligence (EQ) — the ability to understand other people, what their motivations are, and how to collaborate with them — by including expressions of gratitude in our messaging.

At the very least, recent global events have reminded us of the importance of remaining sensitive to situations that have significantly impacted businesses. We need to put ourselves in others’ shoes and curate our outreach accordingly. However, this isn’t just an important practice now. It’s something you should always do, even in the future.

If you’re searching for a simple way to incorporate emotional intelligence when communicating with your contacts, saying a quick thank you can do the trick.

And if you’re wondering when you should thank them, here are a few instances:

Thank your prospects for their time after:

  • A phone call
  • A formal meeting, whether in-person or conducted via Zoom or Google Hangouts
  • A lengthy email exchange

Sending these thank-you messages will help you continue to occupy their attention, and it will also shift their impressions of you in a positive direction. Additionally, this type of curated outreach will provide you with another entry point for conversation that allows you to avoid coming across as annoying or irritating.

Not only are appetites for sincere thank-yous unlimited, but showing appreciation to your potential buyers will help you gain their loyalty. By leveraging EQ before deals become closed, you’ll be ahead of the game if and when your prospects become your clients.

Tip #3: Unstick Pipeline Stalls By Demonstrating Recognition

So, your prospect finally booked a meeting, and the discussion went well. They seemed on board before you hung up the phone, but it’s been a few days since you heard from them, and you’re wondering if they decided to go in a different direction.

It may seem easier to just send a quick follow-up email to a prospect who seems to have lost interest, but remember, they’re likely considering other companies — one of which could even be your top competitor.

So, before replying to a prospect who’s stuck in your pipeline, ask yourself the following, “What could you contribute to separate yourself from your competition and mark this deal closed won?”

Then, implement this two-step process to stay top-of-mind in your potential partner’s eyes.

Step #1: Recognize Their Pain Points in Your Response

To demonstrate that you have your prospect’s primary interests at hand, be sure to recognize their pain points by mentioning them in your reply. Additionally, this will show that you’ve been actively listening during your various exchanges.

Step #2: Share an Expression of Gratitude

Then, identify a way that you can express your gratitude for the potential partnership. One way to do this is by sharing a grateful gesture in your follow up to differentiate yourself and your company from the competition and showcase how much you prioritize their business.

Examples of gestures you can send include:

  • An Uber ride on a rainy morning so your prospect can avoid dealing with bad weather during their commute into the office.
  • A cup of PositiviTea to spread positive vibes before they meet with their boss to get approval before moving ahead with the deal.
  • Movie tickets for them and a plus one if they mentioned that they’re a film aficionado.

Keep in mind that the more these gestures are customized to your contacts’ interests and needs, the greater their effects will be.

Tip #4: Expand Current Accounts by Expressing Appreciation

Sometimes, a new deal shows a lot of promise. You can easily see the potential for future revenue opportunities.

The easiest way to lay the groundwork for future expansion of an account is to strengthen your relationship now by practicing gratitude. That’s going to ensure your prospect-turned-client:

  • Becomes more comfortable making introductions on your behalf
  • Acts as your internal champion
  • Feels valued enough to continue conducting business with your company

83% of customers say their support for a company is inspired by trust and likeability. Through regular and genuine gestures of appreciation, you’ll increase their affinity for your organization while also establishing that your business genuinely cares about your partnership.

Be aware, the time to do this is before asking for anything.

Here’s how to show appreciation and all but guarantee your customers will want to help you increase your business within their company:

  1. Enact a regular client appreciation program that parallels your standard scheduled check-ins.
  2. Give before you take. Consider making a charitable donation on a client’s behalf.

It’s Easy: Practice Gratitude & Boost Your Sales

So, a quick recap…

Effective relationship building is difficult for salespeople today. Practicing gratitude is a solution that will help us build stronger bonds with our prospects and current customers while increasing our conversion rates at a faster pace.

And implementing this concept is as easy as following these four tips:

  1. Increase response rates by personalizing your outreach. Try including your prospects’ names in your subject lines, customizing your email snippets, and show gratitude.
  2. Leverage emotional intelligence to avoid pre-close ghosting. Sending quick, but thoughtful, ‘thank-you emails’ after phone calls, formal meetings, and email exchanges will do the trick.
  3. Unstick pipeline stalls by recognizing your prospects. This is done best by validating their pain points and sharing gestures of appreciation.
  4. Express your appreciation and build relationship now, before you need to ask for introductions or favors. That way, there’s no risk of damaging the relationship.

Now’s the perfect time to let this new technique help you move prospects through your pipeline faster in 2020 and beyond.

As a Director of Sales at Thnks, Mike DeCorso spends most of his workdays educating companies on how they can grow their businesses and generate more revenue by incorporating gratitude and sharing gestures of appreciation. Whether prospective companies want to gain more leads, strengthen their relationships with their current clients, or ensure that their employees remain engaged, Mike helps these organizations overcome their challenges through conducting conversations and delivering demos that demonstrate how the Thnks application can help them yield strong ROI, all while sharing his appreciation for these contacts in the process.

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