Are you tired of reading about sales process, inbound marketing, the move to inside sales, and the failure of most salespeople to meet quota? Me too. And I’m tired of writing about it. Instead, let’s discuss a topic that gets very little attention these days. Prospecting by Phone.
Do salespeople still do that? Many more than you think!
We will define “prospecting” as using the phone to find potential new opportunities.
And we’ll begin by identifying those who don’t need to prospect by phone. Anyone with an account management role, a strong customer base, recurring revenue, great referrals, tenure in their territory and with their company, 500+ LinkedIn connections, incoming leads, and enough leads, referrals and introductions to keep their pipeline full is excused – not only from prospecting by phone, but from the rest of this article as well.
That leaves the following:
- Those who are new to selling
- Those who are new to their industry
- Those who are new to their company
- Those who receive few, if any, leads
- Those who do not have a strong customer base
- Those who don’t get referrals and introductions
- Those with a new business quota
- Those who can’t benefit from local networking groups
- Those who have weak LinkedIn groups
For the above mentioned salespeople, networking and LinkedIn can play a supporting role, but not be the star in your show. It doesn’t matter how wonderful the new tools are. It doesn’t matter how well your CRM application works. It doesn’t matter how many people follow you, how many friends you have, or how many businesses and people you are following. If you can’t convert those cyber connections to meetings, you must get on the phone.
The problem with getting on the phone today, versus even 6 years ago, is that we must deal with the following challenges:
- It can take 8 attempts or more, depending on your target’s title, to reach a prospect
- Salespeople typically give up after 4 attempts!
This passive rejection is becoming increasingly difficult for most salespeople to handle
- Prospects, in general, have little time or patience for “another salesperson” or sales call
- The very salespeople who must still use the phone typically suck on the phone
It is easy to become discouraged, demotivated and depressed after long hours of making calls
- Salespeople leave horrible voicemails and wonder why their calls aren’t returned
- Most salespeople have an alarmingly low conversation to meeting ratio
- Sales Managers aren’t much help. They hold salespeople accountable for call quantities and call time, but don’t provide impactful coaching that improves the quality of the calls
- The 9 points combined above suggest that calling time is wasted time
Right now, at this very moment, I received a cold call from a printing company. She sounded very good on the phone, but the call itself was right out of the 1970’s. While she wasn’t bad, her script was horrible. Instead of making it about my company, she made it about her company. Instead of asking questions, she told me about what they do, how they price, their on-time guarantee, free delivery and all of the stuff that isn’t important to me. The only thing she really did correctly was to get through to me! And she got through because the gatekeeper didn’t answer and she was lucky enough to get into the automated system.
What can salespeople do, today, to improve their phone success?
Tonality and Pace
Their potential issues
Hours of practice
Review, dissect and debrief the recordings
Identify what works