This article has great tips on utilizing b2b cold calling in your sales process. I was going to try and single out my most favorite tip but I like them all! It differentiates between prospecting and telemarketing (blitzing), talks about the timing of the call, and how to be persistent and not annoying.
As social media and web applications have become the hottest networking tools in business, too many sales managers are burying the cold call as an obsolete business practice. If you fall in this category I’ve got news for you: the cold call is not only alive, it’s kicking. And it should be utilized by every B2B sales force.
I see far too many sales teams focus all their attention toward hosting fancy webinars or creating snazzy web-based marketing channels. Still, cold calling remains the most effective way to set up appointments with the right decision makers at your target accounts. A Fortune 50 wireless telecom company hired our firm to train their sales force in the ways of cold calls, and saw a 10% jump in revenue after implementing the tips below. Other clients have seen similar leaps in meetings or demos scheduled, from 20-100%.
So how can you convert phone tactics into actual results? Here are four cold calling tips that will make the sale:
1. Get the direct line of the person that you are cold calling. This doubles the probability of the person answering the phone.
2. Separate your cold calling into two activities: prospecting to find the right person, and call blitzing to get that person on the phone. I recommend prospecting during normal business hours (starting around 10-11:30 am) when administrative assistants are in the office and call blitzing during “call windows,” before 8:30 am and after 5:30 pm when admins are gone. Some other great times to call are five minutes before the top of the hour, catching the executives before their next conference call meetings, and holidays like President’s Day, when executives are likely to be in the office and other business may be slow.
3. Know the difference between persistence and annoyance. Follow these rules of thumb to be professional while consistently reaching out to prospects: manage the flow of information (make sure it’s a constant flow), personalize each message, vary the medium (use an alternating combination of voicemails and emails), and always add value with each subsequent touch.
4. Utilize online resources. There are so many new tools to help you out, including information sources like LinkedIn, Jigsaw, InsideView, and ZoomInfo. With ConnectAndSell you can even outsource your dialing and block an hour to sit at your desk to only talk to live prospects when they get a “connect.”
These techniques have helped us set up thousands of sales appointments with strategic executives at target companies. With a good cold calling effort, you can propel your sales team
This is a great article that outlines the b2b cold calling/ b2b lead generation process. My one critique is that there is little discussion about lead qualification. In order for lead generation to be valuable the prospects need to be qualified to determine if they are worthy of your time.
Cold calling is one of the best techniques you can use for lead generation marketing. Unlike other advertising strategies, this option puts you into direct contact with consumers. Stephan Schiffman, author of “Cold Calling Techniques: That Really Work,” believes that cold calling is especially important given how frugal most consumers have become over the last few years.
“The economy has everyone at a four-way stop sign. No one is moving. So your No. 1 competition right now is the status quo. Forget ROI [return on investment] or cost or color or anything else. Every buyer will ask: ‘Does buying this product make sense for me?’ You’ve got to give him that reason.” Schiffman said, according to Microsoft Business Hub.
Telemarketing does have a negative reputation, but that shouldn’t dissuade you from pursuing this strategy. You may be missing out on great leads if you don’t start cold-calling leads sooner rather than later. Here are a few tips to get your new marketing campaign off the ground.
Write a script
While you and your employees should treat every consumer like an individual, you need a general framework to use during the calls. With such a high volumes of calls to make, you must ensure that the right statements are being made to convince prospects that they should buy your products or subscribe to your services.
Microsoft Business Hub recommends writing a script and sticking with it for your phone calls. The documents are basic guidelines employees should follow when someone answers the call, but Wendy Weiss, author of “Cold Calling for Women: Opening Doors and Closing Sales,” points out that workers shouldn’t use their scripts for specific conversations.
“The script shouldn’t be word for word. It’s a way to prepare yourself for the conversation. You decide ahead of time how you want to present yourself, what reaction you want to get and how to ask for what you want,” Weiss said.
Listen to a few cold calls to learn what is usually said during successful ones. Use these statements in your script so employees understand what they should say and how they can steer the conversations in positive directions.
Prospect and blitz
The Harvard Business Review recommends dividing your cold-calling efforts into two separate tasks: prospecting leads and then blitzing the best prospects. The former should be completed before the latter so you know who your best leads are and have more time to call them multiple times. The news source notes that prospecting should be done early, but blitzing requires careful timing. Consider waiting until late in the day or early the next day to catch consumers before they become busy.
Rejection is a common aspect of the blitzing phase, so tell your employees not to give up after one or two unsuccessful calls. Consumers aren’t always receptive to cold calls, but persistence pays. Eventually, a prospect may be willing to listen if you call frequently enough and show that you won’t give up.
Don’t make small talk
Personal phone calls usually start with pleasantries, but cold calls should only be about business. AllBusiness notes that common greetings from strangers are off-putting to consumers. The call should begin with a direct statement. For instance, you can instruct employees to start by introducing themselves and saying where they work.
The news source also explains that you should never ask if consumers are available to talk. This question gives leads the perfect escape route from the call – they can simply say no and hang up the phone. Only use direct statements and don’t ask questions until the conversation is flowing naturally and you’re confident that the prospect is interested in hearing additional information.
You should be prepared for every call before picking up the phone. Be proactive and learn everything you can about a consumer before cold-calling him or her. Research is a crucial part of every marketing strategy and will allow you to tailor your sales pitch to specific individuals. Entrepreneur Magazine notes you can just use a basic Google search to find some background information. In most cases, you’ll be able to find social media profiles and blogs so you can learn personal details that will help your sales representatives make successful calls.
Practice makes perfect
Experience is the key to success for cold calling. You need to practice your sales pitch and hone your script to generate leads. If you’re going in blind, you’ll likely lose more opportunities than you gain. Start slow by listening in on a few calls and then start conducting your own.
We’re often called on to make the b2b follow up phone calls to inbound internet leads. There’s no better way to qualify a lead than to speak to your prospect directly. Since the calls are made from people who have already raised their hands, it is no longer a cold call but a warm lead.
In this day and age, when you can go from a digital experience to a phone call with the tap of a button, more customers are calling businesses than ever before. In fact, BIA/Kelsey reports that businesses will get 162 billion mobile phone calls by the year 2019. Not only are people calling more and more, but those phone calls are much more valuable than a typical online lead. Marketers have begun to realize they can maximize leads and revenue by simply giving people the option to call.
Here are nine reasons digital marketers are dumping lead forms in favor of phone calls.
- Contact Rates
When it come to contact rates, there’s just no competition. Inbound phone calls have 100% contact rates while research from InsideSales estimates that 71% of web leads are never contacted. 100% contact rates versus 29% — which do you prefer?
- Lead Record Accuracy/Completeness
Lead forms are fraught with missing and fraudulent information. In fact, according to Dun&Bradstreet’s 2016 State of Marketing Data Annual Report, B2B marketing data is “questionable” at best, with 62% of lead records lacking a phone number. It stands to reason that B2C lead generation suffers from the same problem. You take all the trouble to capture the lead, only to get a fake (111)111-0000 phone number that you’ll never be able to reach.
Phone calls not only come with the prospect’s phone number but with call intelligence, you can capture the marketing source, as well as detailed demographic information. Phone calls come with a whole new level of insights that you can use to optimize targeting and your overall strategy.
- Lead Quality
I hate to sound biased here, but in the quality category, phone calls come out on top again. When prospects call a business, they are highly motivated and more likely to make a purchase. According to Invoca’s data, phone calls convert at 10 times the rate of digital leads.
- Response Time
Phone calls have the benefit of immediacy. InsideSales reports that contact and qualification rates decrease by 10 times after the first five minutes of the prospect submitting a form. That’s a lot of leads that go in the trash just because of a slow response time.
Phone calls give the consumer the power. They get to choose when they want to connect.
Invoca’s customers often report that phone calls have much higher order values on average than their web leads. And this makes sense. When prospects call, they benefit from the one-on-one help of a sales rep who can alleviate concerns and objections. Sales reps also have the opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell.
WordStream has also observed this phenomenon, reporting that phone calls are three times as valuable as clicks to a website.
- Mobile Friendly
Tell me, what seems more convenient: filling out a long form on your smartphone or making a quick phone call? Phone calls are on the rise as mobile usage continues to grow, and that’s because phone calls are easy and tend to align with mobile consumer’s goals. It’s no wonder that 70% of people have called a business directly from a mobile search ad.
There’s a lot of talk about one-to-one marketing, but often “personalized” digital interactions miss the mark. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten an email from a company that is addressed to the wrong name, or how many times I’ve been retargeted with a product I already purchased.
As marketers, we should definitely keep striving to achieve more meaningful and personal digital conversations, but that doesn’t mean forgetting phone calls. What’s more personal than a phone call? Plus, data from phone calls can be used to make online and offline conversations more personal.
For services or products that tend to require a personal touch — think industries like legal services, insurance, and financial services – phone calls should be a key part of the lead generation strategy. Customers in these verticals often need to talk with a live agent at some point in the journey. You may as well give them the option right on your landing pages and website.
- Easy to Track
Okay, phone calls don’t necessarily trump lead forms for trackability, but it’s a tie at the very least. Call tracking solutions provide all the same metrics for calls that you are accustomed to seeing for digital leads. Marketing source, campaign, keyword, cookie data, it’s all there. And you can get this data wherever you need it.
- Resource Commitment
You may be thinking that driving inbound phone calls would be an enormous drain on your internal resources, especially when compared to lead forms. The truth is that managing, nurturing, and trying call web leads takes a ton of manpower, even if you are using a marketing automation solution.
Phone calls do require sales agents to answer the phone, but isn’t that what they want to do? Sales agents want to talk to motivated consumers on the phone. Plus, when you use a call intelligence platform, you can set custom filtering and routing rules so your call center or sales team only spends time on qualified calls.
The online lead form once reigned supreme, but in the ever-evolving customer journey, the phone call has made a comeback. See how leading marketers are using phone calls and call intelligence to transform their lead generation strategy.
This article is right on about the follow up strategy for trade show leads. When I started IT’S YOUR CALL I knew that most companies didn’t do the necessary follow up on leads gathered from trade shows. I went to exhibitors at small business trade shows and asked who would do the lead qualification to all the prospects in their gold fish bowls? I then explained that being a B2B telemarketing service we could help them out!
The trade show is winding down and the exhaustion is setting in. So much planning! So much work! You’ve got a bunch of hard-earned leads when that nagging thought creeps in… what happens now? Do we have a solid plan to make the most ROI from these fresh contacts?
According to new research from Certain, 57% of survey respondents said it takes their organization four days or more to follow up with leads after an event concludes. Only 6% can follow-up with prospects on the same day or the day following the event. Timing is the key for successful follow up. Is your sales team ready for the leads that you gathered?
Having a solid follow-up plan is one of the most important parts of your overall trade show strategy. Too often we find exhibitors don’t have the necessary sense of urgency or a well-thought-out plan to successfully contact leads obtained at the show. It is all too common for leads to NEVER be contacted. Leads seem to “disappear into the ether” without a well-developed and executed after-show protocol.
There are many ways to capture a lead on the show floor and the follow-up method will be the same no matter how they were collected. There are many sophisticated CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems available that make this process easier. Touch screen and badge scanning technology allows you to instantly capture their info. The most important thing to keep in mind is that leads are time sensitive.
Common Lead Follow-up Methods
- Phone call
- Email — this can be done directly from the show floor if you are using interactive technology.
- Social media – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are powerful and immediate contact points.
- Direct mail including follow-up packets — include a thank you letter, catalog, informational brochures, special offers and maybe even a company branded give-away (people love freebies). Have these prepared before the show to get them out quickly after.
- Best case is to schedule appointments directly from the show floor.
Keep in mind that the follow-up process starts on the show floor by qualifying your prospects properly and organizing their information immediately. Having the staff keep good notes on what the lead was interested in, buying timeline, and purchasing credentials will help identify leads as hot or cold. Using a score card is also an effective way to make sure they are being qualified correctly. Hot leads need to be followed up on immediately, within 48 hours of the show. Again, CRM software can help prepare a lead to go through the sales funnel quickly and efficiently.
Using interactive technology can also help qualify your leads with targeted surveys to find out what they are interested in. Analytics track what products and services are investigated. Automatic follow-up emails or custom messages can be scheduled with more useful content and information. New inbound marketing systems give customers what they want no matter where they are in the sales funnel.
Lead Follow-up Timeline
- Send a simple thank you email 1-2 business days after the show, even if you emailed them directly from the show floor. Mention the topic of the conversation you had with the person and how your product can solve their problems. The personal touch can make a dramatic difference.
- Follow up with a phone call to schedule a face to face appointment 1-2 weeks after the show.
- If appropriate, extend a personal invite to an open house or corporate seminar at your facility 2-3 months after.
- Deliver content and special offers catered to the lead via drip-campaign emails.
Lead Follow-up Tips
- Have a meeting with follow up staff to clearly communicate timeline and expectations.
- Craft emails with a recognizable and personalized subject, such as “(James), here is the information you requested at (show).”
- Include succinct and mobile friendly email content highlighting the value your company will add to their program, your solution to a problem they are currently having, why your product/service/company is superior, a call to action, and a product/service overview. Give them valuable content they want and will use.
- Put all potential leads into the CRM tool your company uses for future use. Make sure to drop them into a specific Nurture Campaign to keep them engaged.
- Hold your sales reps accountable for actually following up with the qualified leads generated on the trade show floor.
- Don’t start the follow up conversation with a sales pitch. Start with referencing the conversation you had with them on the sales floor (this is where those notes will really come in handy)
Following up in a short amount of time is crucial. Prompt, personalized and helpful follow up touches will lead to more sales. Organizing your leads into categories based on importance will help you prioritize and get the most return on investment from your trade show. But most of all, don’t let those leads melt away over time. Contact them!
This is a great breakdown of the B2B telemarketing process for generating leads. Defining the steps helps all involved to understand the various stages of the sales funnel. Working with our customers we make sure that everyone has the same definitions for the various aspects of the sale funnel.
Funnel measurements have two important benefits in B2B lead generation:
Helping marketers forecast outcomes. By tracking the conversion percentages, marketers can apply those conversion percentages to each new campaign and predict what the outcome will be before the campaign occurs. Such predictions are very helpful in capacity planning and budgeting.
Helping marketing identify funnel leakage and optimize revenue production. Marketers can apply both their own internal, historical baseline conversion ratios (i.e., an aggregation of conversion ratios) and industry benchmarks, like those gathered by MarketingSherpa.
Executive-level funnel metrics provide marketers with the 50,000-foot view to provide an end-to-end perspective. But when there appears to be leakage, zooming in on a particular leak is essential.
In that context, let me share seven funnel conversions for telemarketing.
But first, let’s agree on the scope. In B2B, there are two important functions in this area:
- Following up on, qualifying, educating, and nuturing marketing responses until they are sales-ready leads.
- Prospecting into target accounts to identify and qualify existing demand and to generate demand and convert that demand into sales-ready leads.
For both of these activities, it seems the key funnel stages would be similar. But, what are they?
Before I share a point of view on this important subject, let me say that telemarketing is very complex and the interpretation of outcomes at various stages of the funnel are more and more subjective. Plus, in one call, the telemarketing rep may go through all the funnel stages.
- Dial – a telemarketing rep making an outbound dial; or a customer making an inbound call.
- Connection –the dial converting into a connection.Those dials that do not convert into connection either have busy-outs, dials with no answers, recorded phone company messages about the number being out of service or changed. A very high percentage of dials not converting into connections means the list or lead source is problematic.
- Conversation.– the rep reaching someone to have a conversation, however short; a prospect reaching a telemarketing representative via an inbound call.
- Decision-maker conversation – some of the conversations are with those who would be part of a decision and some are not, either because the telemarketing representative is speaking merely to a receptionist or to someone otherwise not involved in the solution area.
Decision-maker/decision-influencer conversations are much more predictive of future purchase intent than non-conversations. Even when following up on marketing responses, it’s not uncommon that 20 percent of more of the leads never make it to this stage.
- Qualified Account –Usually, the first thing a telemarketing representative does is qualify the person. The second thing is often qualifying the account. Is the account in the target market? Those that are would get this kind of status.
At the top of the market, the funnel may end here with an attempt to set an appointment, the idea being that the sales person will take meetings with the right people in the right accounts because the buying potential is so large.
- Acknowledged Need – The next thing a telemarketing representative does is discover if there are buying plans, and if not, at least an acknowledged need. Those who meet the other criteria (Qualified Account, a stakeholder in the decision processs) and have an acknowledged need are the most likely to convert into a sales-ready lead.
In fact, for some larger accounts, the sales organization may decide that this level of qualification is sufficient to warrant sales follow-up. Others in this stage might warrant tele-nurturing.
- Sales-Ready Lead.Sales-ready leads meet any other qualifying criteria, like a particular timeline for buying, the existence of a budget, etc.
And then, of couse, the overall sales-marketing funnel extends beyond the telemarketing operation as sales people validate leads, convert them into opportunities, forecast them, and close them.
There are some problems with the above funnel however:
- It doesn’t account for inbound or outbound emails sent to or from the telemarketing representative or the clickthroughs that might happen.
- It doesn’t factor in online chat sessions, where there might be an opportunity to identify the prospect, qualify their interest, role, and the account they work for, all before having a live conversation with them.
- There is also nothing in here about leaving messages, per se, like a voice mail.
- There could certainly be other stages, like a presentation stage, where the telemarketing representative presents, however informally, some kind of elevator pitch to the prospect.
- It’s also possible that by sending an Outlook meeting request or speaking to an admin, a telemarketing representative schedules a phone meeting.
- Finally, there isn’t a stage for doing some kind of preliminary investigation of an account and/or a contact, like going to LinkedIn or the account website.
Obviously, these limitations speak to the complexity of B2B telemarketing for the complex sale, and the evolution of this capability to include more and more Web-based tools for both discovery and communication.
Qualifying your prospects is key to making sure your sales pipeline is “healthy”. Many of our customers utilize our b2b telemarketing services to further qualify leads that are in their database. This article discusses setting criteria to move prospects seamlessly through the pipeline.
A pipeline full of opportunities certainly feels healthier, than a sparse or empty funnel that will clearly not generate revenue. However, as is the case in many scenarios, less is often more. The ultimate goal is a lean, healthy pipeline with a high % of opportunities matching your target profile, moving swiftly from stage to stage, through the funnel to close.
There is a world of difference between a healthy feed of the right opportunities and a full, but poor quality pipeline, sapping large amounts of time and resource, not to mention wasted sales management time grappling with inaccurate forecasts and misleading performance indicators.
Sales people each have their own style and approach and use different skills to achieve results. Depending on your product and proposition, opportunities in the B2B space may be complex, involve a protracted path to purchase, with multiple decision makers across many job functions. All these varying factors can make it challenging to analyse and understand your pipeline performance, the key to hitting critical growth targets for your business.
So, how do you build a strong predictable sales pipeline?
To manage a pipeline effectively, you need a level of control. This requires a process and definitions that make sense to all involved, including a clearly defined target audience, and set criteria for what constitutes a ‘good prospect’. If your team is working to a shared set of criteria, you can measure the process and identify areas in need of improvement – parts of the funnel that are leaking, conversion rates above or below average – and then coach individuals around the right behaviours, establishing best practice across the team. There are tools that can help – making your team more productive, minimising administration tasks and helping enforce a more disciplined approach.
Having established clear qualification criteria, you can then move prospects in and out appropriately, and ensure time and effort is targeted to the right opportunities. This assumes a feed of good quality data and robust qualification within your pipeline process. This is where a live conversation at an early stage can pay dividends. It ensures leads from digital sources are thoroughly evaluated, nurtured with relevant content and then delivered to your sales team only when they are truly sales ready, with additional insight that increases their propensity to convert. This, of course, avoids inefficiencies and pointless costs further down the funnel, as sales chase inquiries that don’t match the ideal prospect, or are not ready to buy.
Incorporating human interaction within your qualification process is a key stage in establishing a healthy pipeline. If you have limited resource, it is worth considering outsourcing this part of the process, as the potential increase in quality of output and improved ROI can make it a very cost-effective option.
The candor in this article about prospecting is refreshing! So many in the B2B sales and marketing arena’s tout one method to prospect for new customers. The third way in the article speaks to integrating your prospecting by utilizing telemarketing (cold calling) networking, inbound lead generation, direct mail, etc. There are so many tools, why limit yourself?
1. Consistency Counts: Prospect Daily!
Salespeople acquire new clients, and to do so, they necessarily open relationships. Prospecting is the art of opening new relationships. The new business opportunities that later turn into sales are initially identified through prospecting, making prospecting the lifeblood of sales.
The first way to improve your prospecting results is to acknowledge its importance to your sales results and treat it accordingly.
Improving your prospecting results begins with setting aside the time and the energy to prospect each and every day. And, yes, I do mean each and every day. You would never suggest that you could only close on Thursday afternoons, and it is ridiculous to suggest that there is only a single time at which you can be effective prospecting. It is equally ridiculous to suggest that your prospects are only open to taking your calls on Mondays and Fridays. Those are generalizations and all generalizations are lies.
Write a weekly plan making time to prospect every day. It is best to set aside the time first thing in the morning to ensure it gets done before the world makes other demands of you.
2. Turn Off the Distractions
Turn off the Internet. Turn off your email. Turn off your Smart Phone. Focus.
Tell your friends you have a new found discipline and that you need their support; promise to catch up with them later.
Hang a sign on your door saying “Do Not Disturb! Prospecting!” If you don’t have a door, use string and hang the sign over your desk.
3. Use Every Method Available
Prospecting is the activity of opening new relationships, but it isn’t really what we are focused on here. We are focused on the outcome that is better described as opening new business relationships to identify potential new business opportunities. There are many ways to do this, and all of them are effective sometimes.
To prospect well, you need to focus your time and energy on what works best for you, but not exclusively. If you are great at cold calling, you should absolutely focus on cold calling. But that doesn’t mean that you should never use email marketing, inbound marketing, networking, trade shows and conferences, direct mail, social networking, or referrals. You should include all of these tools in your arsenal.
Make a list of all of the methods that you can and will use to prospect. Plan the time that you will set aside for each method and how many prospects you will gain from your effort. For example, you might commit to attending one networking event per month with the result that you acquire two new prospects from each networking event. Measure these results and focus on what generates the greatest return on your investment of time, but remember that your prospects may have their own opinion on how they best like to be approached, and you shouldn’t exclude any method.
4. Write Scripts
Two things cause poor prospecting results. The first is not spending enough time prospecting. The other is ineffective prospecting. This mostly comes down to language choices. It comes down to what you are saying when you prospect.
There is no substitute for scripts.
“But wait!” you say. “I am a professional salesperson and I can’t sound like I am using a script!” I hear you loud and clear. And you can’t sound like someone that your prospect isn’t interested in meeting either.
First you have to recognize that you are already using a script. The words that you use when prospecting (and on sales calls, by the way), are choices that are comfortable to you because you have rehearsed them. They are comfortable to you because you have them memorized, not because you are reading them. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best language choices.
Your effectiveness is improved by choosing carefully the word that use, making observations about what is working and what isn’t working. This takes an awareness, focus, and discipline. It also allows you to experiment with language choices to see what is most effective.
Write scripts for each of the prospecting methods you use. Write responses to the common objections you hear. Rehearse them. If you are part of a great sales team, do this together and rehearse them together. Commit the best language to memory and replace the unwritten and ineffective scripts you are already using.
5. Focus on the Outcome
The outcome of prospecting is to open the relationship. This almost always involves obtaining the commitment for an appointment.
Effectiveness in prospecting is improved by simply focusing on the outcome. This means that you don’t allow your prospecting to turn into a needs analysis, a presentation, or a discussion about the merits of your product or service. It means you apply a laser-like focus on scheduling the appointment.
The reason some salespeople struggle focusing on the outcome of an appointment and the reason often they slip into the sales mode is because they feel that they have to prove that they can create value for the prospect during their prospecting activity. But prospecting has a very different goal, namely, the opening of the exploration of the possibility that you might be able to create value and do something together. Selling, at this point, is premature.
There is no list to make, no plan to write here. Just know that a successful outcome here is almost always an appointment. It doesn’t matter how much you liked them or how much they liked you if you didn’t schedule an appointment.
6. Get Good at Cold Calling
There is too much to write here about how to get good at cold calling. But it is important that you have it in your repertoire, and that you build your competency picking up the phone and scheduling an appointment.
Cold calling is still one of the fastest ways to schedule appointments and to open relationships, and the very best salespeople are the very best at cold calling. They are also the very best at all other forms of prospecting, and the only salespeople I have found that are willing to consistently ask for referrals, something else salespeople avoid.
Start cold calling.
7. Nurture Relationships Over Time
Even when you use all of the ideas above, you are still going to hear “no.” You are going to hear it a lot. But relationships, including business relationships, are built over time. Your consistent and unrelenting pursuit of your dream clients is part of a longer-term plan for success and not a quick fix.
Consistency here means that these prospects hear from you more than sporadically. It means they hear from you frequently and with all the predictability of the Sun rising each morning.
Your calls, your thank you cards, your letters, your white papers, your surveys, your studies, your newspaper and web clippings, your constant attempts to find a way to create some value before claiming any all add up over time.
Some of the best relationships and the biggest deals will take the longest time to win, and your consistent nurturing of these relationships will open opportunities for you over time. This approach proves that you are not going to disappear like so many of your peers, that you are truly interested in working with them, that you are a professional who executes well, and that you are determined. These are some of the attributes that people look for in salespeople and partners.
Write a nurturing plan. What will you do to create value for your dream clients even before they decide to set an appointment with you? How often will you call? How often will they receive something from you? What will they receive? What will it say about you? How will it create trust?
Salespeople open relationships. Opening relationships is built upon the ability to prospect. Follow these steps to improve your prospecting results.
Summertime is fast approaching, next week if you think it starts on Memorial Day. The question from our customers that always comes up is, does b2b telemarketing work during the summer. My answer is since activity slows down in most industries this is a great time to do prospecting. Prospects are more willing to take the call and talk. Calling on Fridays in the summer is also a good time to call, decision makers easier to reach. The article below explains 3 strategies to prospecting during the summer.
Every summer I write a post about working a little harder so that your pipeline stays full through to fall. Cold calling gets more difficult in the summer. People are on vacation, taking shorter days, golfing…it does prove difficult to make the same number of connections that you make through the rest of the year. With all the distractions available to you through the summer, it can be difficult to maintain focused on picking up the phone. Or take it up a notch.
You have three options in the summer.
- Carry on as usual
Let’s assume for a minute your normal commitment to outbound prospecting is 200 dials per week. That should lead to one or two new meetings every week. This depends on some variables like the territory you’re prospecting in, your skill level, and the list you’re working. If you look at summer as eight weeks, you have the option of making 1600 dials through that time frame. If you connect half as many times, you’re still going to meet with eight new prospects this summer, just from outbound prospecting. What’s your closing ratio like? How does that impact your bottom line?
- Reduce your activity, or stop entirely.
Reducing your activity, while not ideal, at least keeps enough attention on your pipeline that warm leads get the attention they need, and you still will get a few opportunities to win new business.
We don’t recommend that you stop prospecting through the summer. If you stop entirely you’re going to lose the opportunity to set the eight meetings we just discussed. You’ll have zero “action items” in your pipeline for fall. Prospecting requires you to continually stuff leads in to the top of the funnel in order for opportunities to come out at the bottom. No new activities? No new business. As you get further and further away from new dials, your pipeline gets cold and stale. That means you’re starting over from zero again in September, and that will take you a full quarter to recover from. You don’t lose one quarter when you stop dialing, you always lose two.
- Step it up.
While your competitors are taking time off to golf, and lamenting about how summer is a waste of time to prospect, you can accelerate your prospecting. Commit to another 100 dials weekly. The law of numbers – even at a slower summer pace – says this will find you at least 4 new opportunities this summer. Closing one extra 50 seat managed deal this summer (Is your closing ratio one in four? Better?) would make missing a few golf games worth it, wouldn’t it?
Some great points are made about the basics however the prospecting aspect is sorely lacking. Our customers hire us to add to their b2b sales process. We create lead generation and lead qualification campaigns to help their prospects through the sales cycle. Of course there are many great books that can help teach prospecting including “Cold Calling for the Clueless” written by me.
What so few of us are willing to accept is this fundamental truth: Great salespeople, like great athletes, simply do the basics very well. Some of us would like to believe that there’s a shortcut around the basics; that, if we could only find it, there’s a secret formula out there somewhere for just sitting back and letting the money roll in. The sooner you get rid of that illusion, the sooner you can get on with reaching the heights you want to reach through effective use of the basics.
1. Prospecting. If you’re like most of the people in my seminar audiences, just hearing the word prospecting makes you a little nervous. Don’t think that way. If you don’t like to prospect, it’s because no one has taught you the professional way to do it. I’m going to.
2. Making original contact the professional way. We all meet new people all the time—in social situations, at events for our children, at church, in non-sales business settings. The key to success in selling is to refine your skills during these initial contacts to become memorable to the other folks and to remember as much about them as possible so you can impress them even more on your second meeting—which, hopefully, will be a selling situation.
3. Qualification. Many salespeople spend most of their time talking to the wrong people. If you do that, it doesn’t matter how eloquently you present your service or product. Your earnings are going to be low. I’ll show you how professionals make sure that they invest their time with the right people who can make yes decisions, instead of expending it on the wrong people who can only make no decisions.
4. Presentation. After you qualify and know that this person has a need for your product or service, it’s now time to move on to the fourth basic which is the presentation or demonstration. You must present your product in such a way that they see that it’s just what they had in mind all along.
5. Handling objections. The fifth basic method of developing your competence is to learn how to handle objections effectively. Maybe you’ve had prospects who want to wait and think it over; prospects who already have one of whatever it is you’re selling; prospects who’ve been doing business with your competitor for years. Have you ever heard any of these things? If you’ve been in sales longer than a week, you undoubtedly have. Read on. You’ll find material that’ll make you smile the next time you hear these objections. You’ll smile, bore in—and close a delightful number of such sales. But there’s a price to pay for that smile: You’ve got to learn the concept, adapt the idea to your offering, and learn the words that make it work.
6. Closing the sale. Many average to good salespeople prospect, make contacts, qualify, present, and handle objections so well that they manage to get by without learning to close competently. And that, of course, is what keeps them from being great. Closing contains elements of both art and science, and those elements can be learned.
7. Referrals. After you’ve satisfied the needs of your client and closed the sale, you have earned the right to your next prospect. By that I mean getting referral business from each and every client. That is the seventh and final basic. If they’re happy, they’ll want someone else to be happy, too. I’ll teach you simple steps to getting solid, qualified referrals every time, if you’re willing to learn.
But many of us have forgotten how to learn, so let’s quickly review the steps to learning that apply not only to everything in this book, but to anything you choose to study.
One of the benefits of working with IT’S YOUR CALL is that we track what occurs which each dial. The results are then given to our customers in a weekly report. Thus allowing them to manage their telemarketing campaign and measure the ROI.
I asked a six person sales team I was coaching if they knew how many sales meetings it took (on average) to generate one qualified proposal. No one knew for sure.
A business owner I coached didn’t record the stats from her direct mail campaigns. She always made a few sales so she just kept it going. (But at what cost?).
A manager of a small B2B call-center I met didn’t know how many decision-maker conversations it took (on average) to set one appointment. (It’s different with every caller he said…).
Management guru Dr. Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets managed.” Want to avoid sales mediocrity? Then track your numbers and improve your ratios. If you’re responsible for generating new business, start by looking at a meaningful number worth tracking…your desired income.
As a salesperson, what’s your annual income goal?
Let’s say your goal is to earn $84,000 a year ($7,000.00 per month). To figure out how to do that, work your ratios backwards as follows.
- How much revenue is required to earn $7,000 monthly?
- How many sales does that equate to each month?
- How many proposals are required to yield one new sale?
- How many prospects do you need to set appointments with to yield one qualified proposal?
- How many decision-maker conversations must you have to generate one appointment?
- How many dials (see definition below) are required for one decision-maker conversation?
And there you have it. Schedule X dials a week and you’re on plan.
A “Dial” means:
- You reach a prospect’s voice-mail
- The receptionist says the prospect is not available
- The number is not in service
- You connect with a live prospect
You can’t control how many decision-makers (prospects) you connect with, but if you make the dials and have an effective introductory call process, the decision-maker conversations and appointments will come.
The number of dials you make per week is completely in your control. The key is knowing how many you need to make each week and scheduling them.
- Elements completely out of a salesperson’s control – conversations with decision-makers
- Elements partially within a salesperson’s control – Number of appointments made and qualified proposals submitted (your effectiveness has a bearing on results)
- Elements completely within a salesperson’s control – Number of dials made!