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by Emily Yepes

We’re all taught at some point that we need to ask for a Call to Action (CTA)– a request that the person we’re talking to commit to do something. And usually, we make that request. But how effectively?

The landscape has changed. The CTAs that worked a decade ago with a brand-new contact simply aren’t effective anymore. They don’t set us apart from the noise. In fact, they make us part of that noise. I’m talking about calls to action like:

  • Are you available this Tuesday or Thursday at 10 am?
  • Can we talk tomorrow morning?
  • What’s a good day for us to connect this week? Please let me know.

In the situations where we have no prior relationship with the person, these are CTAs that, statistically speaking, are highly unlikely to result in any action other than the person ignoring us and our message. Years ago, this kind of CTA made statistical sense. Today, they are premature. Buyers simply tune them out.

Here’s a better approach. Consider Caitlyn’s initial message to Jerry, a decision maker who eventually ended up working with her company:

"Hi, Jerry, thanks for connecting. The Mutant Sherlock Holmes activation at Comic Con was amazing. I walked by as you were starting to let people through and wow, that was a big line.

Do you have your own team of brand ambassadors for those activations? Or do you use an agency?"

Look at Caitlyn’s CTA. It’s so subtle, you might have missed it – but it’s in there. She asks Jerry a question that is relevant, easy for him to answer, and a deepening of the conversation between peers.  Make no mistake – that’s a CTA. Notice what she’s asking him to do: answer a question that’s uniquely relevant to him and his situation. Caitlyn knew what her CTA was. Make sure you know what yours is, too!

Those weak, old-fashioned CTAs are a bit like going to a party, walking up to someone you’ve never met and asking them if they’ll commit to a long-term relationship with you. You need a bit of back and forth first!

Notice that when Caitlyn asks those questions in the way she asks them (with the subtext “Is this even something that’s worth talking about – is there even a possible fit here?”) she’s establishing equal business stature. That’s very important – just as important digitally as it is face-to-face. She’s testing for fit, which is what professionals do. They don’t waste their time or anyone else’s.


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