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By: Alice Heiman
Categories: Building Relationships, Business Owners, lead generation, Prospecting

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.

Beyond that:

  • 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?

Let’s take the ‘cold’ out of calling. Let’s make the work easier.

Calling can work well if it is done as part of a campaign 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.

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. Click To Tweet

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

Decide who will research the companies. 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 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 they can make the decision or influence the decision.

To do this, first, check the team page of the 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. 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.

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.

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.

I don’t know if that is true, but I do know that people are busy, just like you and me. They have so much stimulus coming at them.

You have to break through the noise. The only way to do that is to be relevant, add value and insights and be persistent. Click To Tweet

Determine where you are in the sales process 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).

The message will be different if you are you prospecting a current client to alert them of other ways you can help them, 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, fax (yes, fax does still work in some industries), voicemail, webinar, event, trade show, phone, 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 anything.

You are building awareness and developing interest. It’s the beginning of your relationship and you want to build 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 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.

Plan Meetings

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.

Plan Voicemails

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.

In Conclusion

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 peak 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.


Want your next prospecting campaign to have great results, schedule a Perfect Your Prospecting Campaign call today!

Alice Heiman
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Alice Heiman

Founder and CSO at Alice Heiman, LLC
Alice Heiman has been helping companies increase sales for more than 20 years. Her innovative sales leadership programs, coupled with her top-down approach to creating long-term change, set up sales leaders and sales-managing business owners to get consistent and sustainable growth.
Alice Heiman
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3 thoughts on “Desperate for Leads? Keep Your Funnel Flowing”

  1. This is a terrific post! Too often we go after new clients without a thorough plan. Maybe that’s because we just reach out for the meeting.

    The steps you lay out are practical, and I can see how planning and preparation before execution will make a big difference in the results we achieve.

    Thank you for laying it out so clearly!

    • You’re welcome. I think sometimes we just get so busy doing what we’re doing that we forget that we could do it a better way. As my friend Dianna Geairn always says, “Your customers are depending on you to find them.” That thorough plan insures you find them. Finding more buying influences also takes the pressure off the one contact you have to do all the selling work internally. Thanks, for your comment!

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