A Software as a Service company was generating interest by having visitors to their website download a white paper. Visitors had to fill out a basic form which included a phone number in order to perform the download. After discerning which suspects were “real” the company engaged It’s Your Call’s b2b telemarketing services to further qualify those suspects.
A script was developed that was used more as a guide for having a conversation rather than having the telephone reps read verbatim. Additionally, qualifying questions were developed and prioritized. The phone reps were given a demonstration of the software from the SAAS company’s VP of business development. With this knowledge the telephone reps were comfortable enough to conduct intelligent phone conversations with the SaaS company’s prospects.
After 200 hours of calling 44 appointments and the program which had expanded into doing some cold calling was achieving an overall 5% positive response rate. What makes this more interesting is we were competing with a performance based compensated telemarketing firm and not only did we achieve better results but if we were to charge on a performance based structure the cost would have been 3x more!
When most folks think about cold calling, they don’t get a warm feeling. Even experienced sales people can be intimidated by the prospect of picking up the phone and calling a new business prospect that doesn’t know them and is not expecting to hear from them. There are plenty of reasons why cold calling gives some the chills. They’re shy. They’re easily disappointed. They feel like they’re bothering people.
While these feelings are legitimate, it’s no excuse not to make the call. The fact remains that cold calling is a necessary and highly effective tactic in the vital campaign to build a successful new business pipeline and grow your company. Yet although cold calling is a significant component in generating leads, it is often given the lowest priority.
Today’s easy access to email doesn’t help matters either. Too often an email is substituted for the more personal and useful interaction that occurs when individuals actually use their voices to speak to one another. Cold calling is the first step toward winning new business. It’s the process by which we identify strong prospects and generate worthwhile leads. Trust that that the actual you, not the virtual you, is the best way to begin these relationships.
The following five tips should help you overcome your anxiety and improve your success rate:
1. It’s No Bother…It’s Just Business
It’s important, if not essential, to remind yourself that when you are cold calling prospects, you are doing business, during business hours, with other businesspeople.
You’re not calling someone’s home just as they’re sitting down to dinner after a long day at work. Your targets are at work, and they spend a great deal of their workday doing business on the telephone. Think of it this way. When your phone rings at home in the evening, you may let the voicemail take the call quite often. But when your phone rings in the office, you pick it up. Talking on the phone at work is the rule, not the exception. You’re not bothering anyone when you cold call. If you’ve targeted the right group of people than what you have to offer will be helping your prospect and you will no longer be perceived as a bother.
2. Research, or be Destroyed
Always make sure to spend the necessary time researching your prospects. First look at your past customers and see if you can find similarities that will allow you to find the folks that generated the most revenue for you. From there you can find prospects with the same demographics. Check out their Web sites. Look for any coverage they might have received in the media or in industry journals. Look into their competitors. You want to know not only what the prospects do, but also how they do it, and in what areas the companies have succeeded and in what areas they have failed. The purpose of thorough research is twofold. First, it allows you to create a viable prospect list by eliminating companies that are not appropriate targets for your services. No need to cold call a fish if you’re selling bicycles. Second, it will make you well prepared. The goal of a cold call is to talk not only about your company, but also to encourage the prospect to talk about their company and their needs.
3. “Less is Better”
Although you know everything there is to know about your product or service saying it succinctly is key when cold calling. I recommend that you introduce the product or service that most appeals to your prospects. After you get your foot in the door you can then up sell other services or products. Before making the actual call, write down what you want to say. It should include a statement of who you are and what your company does, a reference to the prospects needs in that area and an open-ended question that will lead to a longer conversation. Prepare yourself for objections. Objections are a good thing. It means that your prospect is listening. The more objections you plan for the better results you will have. Make sure your talking to the right person by asking some qualifying questions during your conversation and if the person your speaking to isn’t the right person find out who is and call them referencing the person who gave you their name. If you do this, you’ve created a script that will help you to organize your thoughts and boost your confidence!
4. Put One Foot in Front of the Other
For the easily discouraged, cold calling can prove a particularly distasteful experience. More often than not a prospect will be too busy to talk, or if the prospect does have time to take your call he or she will eventually confess that the company is not spending until the next quarter…of the next year! We all share the same economy. Don’t take it personally and don’t get discouraged. Treat each cold call as if it is your first call of the day. Just because a prospect can’t see your face, that doesn’t mean they can’t hear your attitude. In other words, any timidity, disinterest or gloom will shine right through that phone line. When I say smile, I mean it. And stand up when you make cold calls. The simple act of getting out of your chair will increase your energy and sharpen your focus. A good attitude is a key to success, and it’s easier to have good attitude when you have a good opening. Setting small reachable goals will help you to obtain success. If there are 10 prospects to cold call on your list for the day, the goal should be to have a valuable discussion with three of them. Don’t expect to close a deal on the call either. Realistic goals for cold calling include determining the quality of the prospect, stimulating interest in your services, agreeing to mail the prospect more information and/or securing a face-to-face meeting.
5. Following Through Means Following Up
New sales are made after an average of 4-5 contacts or “touches”. Your first touch is the cold call, the second is when you follow up with them (either by mailing or emailing) and then call again just to make sure that the information was received and to answer any questions. At this point you have now touched your prospect 3 times! (Almost there!) It sounds like a no-brainer, but very often we find it easier to move on to the next opportunity than to show persistence. Simple things like doing what you say you’re going to do may not close a sale, but failing to follow through can absolutely kill your chances.
Cold calling is a proven method of generating new business. If you want to grow, you have to contact prospects and generate leads. The cold calling process allows you to more accurately identify solid targets, quickly generate interest in your products and services and easily develop a dialogue with people whose needs match what you have to offer. Just follow these five simple tips, and the next time opportunity knocks, you won’t leave it out in the cold.
The quickest way to generate qualified leads is to utilize a b2b telemarketing process. It’s easy to utilize the internet and gather prospects but often times it’s easier to send an email and wait around for a response. To be proactive, and a great sales person, picking up the phone, finding the right person and then asking a few simple qualifying questions can start your b2b lead generation process in an afternoon.
New sales leads are the lifeblood of many businesses. To successfully generate them, you’ll need to actively prospect for marketing leads – then quickly identify and follow up the hottest prospects.
Acquiring business leads
Simple lead generation usually starts with desk research and you might find sales leads in directories (on and offline), or by buying a targeted mailing list.
Networking and encouraging your customers to provide word-of-mouth referrals can be more powerful ways of generating sales leads, however. They don’t just provide you with the names of potential leads, but also with useful introductions.
Alternatively, you can rely on repeat sales and responses to advertisements and other promotional activities. Enquiries can be “hot” or at least “warm” leads, as these potential customers have already expressed an interest in what you offer. Be careful not to depend too much on this kind of passive lead generation, though, as it may blunt your ability to actively source prospects when you need to.
Qualifying sales leads
You may be tempted to focus your efforts on getting as many sales leads as possible. But the key to success is getting qualified leads – people you have a good chance of selling to. Remember, that the overall aim is to make sales, not just leads.
The faster you can discard unpromising leads, the less time and money you waste on them and the more you can focus on better prospects. You should try to qualify leads before you start selling to them:
Does the potential customer need what you are offering?
Are they likely to buy soon, or should you approach them again at a later date?
Do they have the money to buy your product?
Have you identified a decision-maker with the authority to buy?
Do you have a reasonable chance of making a sale?
Unlike selling, when you aim to overcome objections, you should accept that not every lead will meet your criteria. Focusing on a small number of qualified leads can be far more effective than trying to sell to too many prospects.
Sales lead management
For many businesses, the most important factor in successful sales lead generation is to commit resources to it. You can then decide whether it’s more effective for lead generation to be part of a general sales role within your business or carried out by separate researchers. A lead generation service might also be an option.
Whoever is doing the prospecting needs to understand what they are trying to achieve and how to go about it. A typical approach is to qualify leads before requesting a meeting or following up with more information in a sales letter. There should be clear agreement on when a lead is handed to a salesperson.
Sales tools like customer relationship management software can help you track contacts and follow up on leads at the right time. Systems like these can also help you monitor lead generation numbers and sales conversion rates, so you can identify what is and isn’t working.
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 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!