In the past few months I’ve been treating sales calls differently. When my phone rings and it’s some cold-calling junior rep, I’ll actually listen to what he’s asking me. “Is this really his pitch?” I wonder. Too often these calls begin the exact same way, they want to know my top sales objectives or they tell me they are just “touching base, and wanted to see what we think of…” without any indication that they know my company or what my interests are. If a sales rep barely knows what my company does, how can they convince me their product or service will help me?
This sales technique is not the right way to approach your clients, and if your reps are doing this, you should have a serious talk with the sales manager. Sales reps need to research their clients, and not shoehorn everyone into the same sales model. We have our Sales Development reps (SDRs) prepare by finding out our prospect’s business model, and develop a sales plan to fit that model. We see if any of our sales reps or other team members have LinkedIn connections to our prospect, if they went to the same university, or any other information we can use to establish a connection.
Traditional cold calling is on its way out. There’s no excuse to be in the dark at all about your prospects. Calling is still effective but it’s the cold that needs to disappear. Warm calling is part of the entire sales approach we practice, so we have tailored solutions at the ready for our prospects. This method of prospecting takes longer, but returns a much greater yield. We’re having more meaningful conversations with our prospects, instead of burning through endless phone numbers.
How many of your prospects languish in pipeline purgatory?
When it comes to your direct interactions with a prospect, every second counts. Their time is your most valuable metric. If you can’t meet them face to face, how do you know if they’re genuinely interested in what you’re selling?
What if you could see what pages they looked at in your sales deck, and for how long. Maybe you explained features X and Y to them, when they were really just interested in feature Z. We’ve had plenty of customers who want 3/4ths of our product, and we learned in the pipeline how to sell them that 3/4ths. We know what they’re paying attention to in our meetings, and what they’ve been looking at in our presentations. A sales rep’s greatest fear is losing a customer because they didn’t know you had the product they wanted. Tracking engagement drives our sales, not the other way around.
While we sacrificed our time by focusing on each prospect, we gain value when we can see how engaged they are. If my sales rep has a list of 400 prospects and she sees 40 of them have read her sales deck, she’s more productive by prioritizing those 40 who are more “sale-ready”. As legendary Ad-man Craig Davis said, “We need to stop interrupting what people are interested in and be what people are interested in.”
There’s enough well priced software on the market today that no sales team should be in the dark about their customers. The heavies are doing it, using AdWords and cookie tracking on social networks to target ads to consumers. While we don’t quite have the luxury of those tools in B2B, enough solutions exist to complement your CRM that your sales team can eliminate pure cold calling by tomorrow. There are sales development tools that help you track any content on the page level and thus help with showing which prospect is really interested in what you have to offer and in what. Besides that, there are social monitoring tools that help you with knowing exactly who is talking about your company and what is going on with your prospect which you can use to add value to your sales pitch and show your prospects you really care about them by knowing what is going on in their lives.