You and I both know one of the key reasons salespeople don’t hit their quota is because they don’t have enough deals in the funnel. They work the ones they have like crazy at the end of the quarter but if they are not ready to close they don’t hit the number. If they had more deals to work, they would have a higher probability of making quota. They need more qualified leads.
Whose job is it to generate leads? Some say it’s marketing that should be generating qualified leads for salespeople. Some say salespeople should generate their own leads. I say it’s both. We need sales and marketing alignment to generate qualified leads so that salespeople can focus on their highest payoff activity – closing deals.
With proper process and training, marketing and sales can work in tandem to get interested buyers to identify themselves.
Running a prospecting campaign should be a joint effort. Even if your salespeople are left to do this on their own, they can be very effective if they follow my process.
Prospecting does not Equal Cold Calling
My feeling is that cold calling is inefficient, ineffective and mostly a waste of everyone’s time because it is done so poorly. Making 100 calls a day to set 1 appointment really isn’t efficient or appealing.
- How many of you like to receive cold calls?
- How many of you make a purchase from a cold call?
- How many of your salespeople enjoy cold calling and are really good at it?
I always recommend getting an introduction before launching the type of campaign I describe below, but if you can’t find an introduction then let’s take the ‘cold’ out of calling. Let’s make the work easier.
Some call what I describe here account based marketing because you carefully choose the accounts to approach and make a plan. Cold outreach can work if it is done as part of a campaign specific to a company or industry and you have the right value proposition for each type of buyer you are calling.
So, how do you build an effective prospecting campaign?
Effective Prospecting Campaigns
Effective prospecting campaigns have to be more than picking up the phone and trying to reach the person on the list. If they are not well planned, it becomes a pure numbers game. The more numbers dialed, the more likely you are to find someone who will buy. There are companies who will do this dialing for you like Connect and Sell and if you want to do it this way, I recommend them.
Personally, I don’t want to make 100 calls to get 10 live answers to find 1 person I can have a conversation with. I want to make 10 high-quality contacts, have great conversations with them, and get 5 or more sales.
[bctt tweet=”A prospecting campaign is very similar to a resume. A good resume gets you an interview (not the job) with someone who can hire you. A good prospecting campaign gets you an appointment with someone who is qualified to buy from you.” username=”AliceHeiman”]
I have been very successful using the method below for my company and my clients.
To be successful, the sales managers need to teach their salespeople to execute this process as well as monitor, encourage and reward the behaviors necessary for the process to work. Where possible, the sales leaders will plan with marketing to work in tandem.
6 Steps to Success
Each salesperson should follow these steps. If marketing and sales can align, this works even better.
NOTE: Make a timeline and calendar of all the action items needed to complete the campaign. Design the entire campaign before executing.
Step 1: Identify the Targets
Each salesperson will identify about 10 companies at a time as targets. These should be companies that would be “ideal” as customers. Work these 10 for about a quarter. (Numbers will vary depending on your situation).
Step 2: Research the Targets
Google, check the website, social media, annual report, recent articles, and trade journals.
Watch for trigger events (hiring, awards, partnerships etc).
Call one of their salespeople, ask a few questions and ask for their marketing materials.
You are looking for information to confirm that the company or division is a good target. You are also looking for the right people at that company and you are looking for conversation starters.
(If your marketing department or sales development reps can help with this, you are in luck.)
Step 3: Find the People
Find the names of 5 – 8 people in each company who are most likely to be interested in your solution and at a level that can make the decision or influence the decision.
To do this, first, check the team page of each company’s website. Use Google and look for them on social media. Use tools like DiscoverOrg to find names, titles, and contact information. Nimble is another great tool for finding info. You can use the Nimble Widget to get emails, addresses, and phone numbers. LinkedIn is a great place to find names and emails as well as learn about your prospects. If you have LinkedIn Navigator, it’s even easier.
If all else fails, call the main number at the corporate office and ask for what you need. All they can say is “no” but be prepared to be transferred to the person you ask for and ready to have a conversation in case they answer. Prepare a great voicemail to leave if they don’t.
Step 4: Plan the Campaign
Plan a multi-touch, multi-platform campaign. We’ve all heard that it can take up to 12 touches for a prospect to respond and that most responses come between touch 6 and 8 and many salespeople give up after 2. (These stats float around the internet.)
I don’t know if those statistics are accurate, but I do know that people are busy, just like you and me. They have so much stimulus coming at them so it makes sense that you will have to make many attempts to reach them.
[bctt tweet=”You have to break through the noise. The only way to do that is to be relevant, add value and insights and be persistent. ” username=”AliceHeiman”]
Determine where you are in the approach before starting your campaign so that you can plan appropriate messaging, the place to deliver the message, and the way you will deliver (in person, written, audio, video). For most of you, this will be your first attempt to reach the buyers at a given company but some of you may have already met them at an event and know they have some interest.
The message will also be different if you are prospecting a current client to alert them of new ways you can help them, or if you are prospecting a past client you wish to reengage. If you are writing messaging to follow up from a trade show, that will be completely different especially if they have shown some interest. If you build a list of prospects that have probably never heard of you you will definitely need very specific messaging to get their attention.
Use Everything You’ve Got
Any combination of direct mail, email, social media, text, video, audio, voicemail, webinar, event, trade show, phone, a face-to-face visit, advertising, or PR can be utilized. This is where sales and marketing alignment becomes critical.
Be sure all of the touches are received by the prospect within a compacted period. Twelve touches in 12 days – too much. Twelve touches in 12 weeks, reasonable, but maybe 8 weeks is better.
Every touch must add value and give the person something to think about to get them interested in your offering. Each message must have a call to action, but not necessarily sell your offering.
You are building awareness and developing interest. It’s the beginning of your relationship and you want to build it in a strong way. Show them you care about them, not just selling your product.
Call to Action
As I mentioned, all written touches must include a call to action. In an email that can be to watch a video, click a link to an article, respond to a question or survey that has value to them or you can directly ask if they’d like to get on a call (but that is usually after you have sent them several pieces of great content). Sometimes in an email where I’ve shared great content, I use, “P.S. if you’d like to jump on a call to discuss, let me know.”
When you see them in person, a call to action is to discuss the next steps. If you send a video, you can suggest an action you want them to take.
All the Buyers
All potential buyers identified should be touched during the campaign. If you are lucky, you will create a buzz and they will talk to each other about the content or message you have sent.
Step 5: Plan the Message
The message matters. For each type of buyer (persona), you need a clear message. Since you are going to prepare 8 to 12 touches in advance, prepare a variety of messages that will matter to them and content that provides value. Your messages need to be about the prospect and their concerns. Prepare messages that provide insights.
Plan Written Messages
Write out the messaging for the emails, social posts, and private LinkedIn messages. Be sure the messages are engaging.
Before you pick up the phone or see someone in person, write out a call plan. Whether it is a scheduled meeting or the first call after a series of emails and social touches, prepare a plan.
Develop a list of 4 – 6 well-thought-out questions that will get the prospect talking to share their needs and allow you to determine if they are qualified.
List a few pieces of information to deliver and match those to the prospect’s needs. Be prepared so you don’t do a data dump.
Think about what you are willing to commit to as a next step, and what commitment you would like from the prospect as a result of the call.
This planning will make the call go smoothly and advanced the sale or let you know quickly that it is not something to pursue.
If making calls, plan the voicemail you will leave. Write down exactly what you will say. Be sure it is impactful. Practice saying the message so that when you deliver, it is done with enthusiasm in your voice and you leave a clear, concise message that grabs interest.
Step 6: Plan the Follow-Up
Plan the follow-up. This is so important. If you do all this work and get someone interested – then what?
Be sure that whatever you promise to deliver as a result of the campaign, you execute with excellence. The face-to-face visit, phone appointment, demo, fulfillment package should all be done in a professional and timely manner.
Remember, a prospecting campaign should result in an appointment with the person or people who are most likely to purchase what you are selling. Your prospecting efforts should pique their interest enough that they schedule an appointment with you face-to-face, by Skype or video conference, or on the phone.
I’d love to hear your stories about prospecting and motivating salespeople to prospect. Please leave a comment below!
Alice is nationally known for her expertise in elevating sales to increase valuation for companies with a B2B complex sale that have exceptional growth potential. She’s originally, from the widely known Miller Heiman Group. Spending her time strategizing with CEOs and their leadership teams to build the strategies that find new business and grow existing accounts is her passion. Her clients love her spirit and the way she energizes their sales organization.