Sales Prospecting Calls: The Ultimate Guide for Inside Sales Reps
In the aftermath of the introduction of inbound marketing, high-growth companies are realizing they can’t afford not to make outreach a priority. A great content strategy needs to be supported by a targeted outbound approach to draw in potential clients who may never stumble upon your company’s website otherwise, and to allow your company to go after big accounts. Currently, email campaigns are the most common solution companies adopt in an attempt to actively engage with potential clients, but with the average business email sending and receiving over 128 emails a day in 2017, it is becoming increasingly difficult for sales and marketing teams to get their messages opened and standout among all the inbox clutter.
But what if you could boost your response rates with a simple strategy change? It may surprise you to find that the response rates for emails is 0.03% where the average B2B call response rate is 8.21% or more.
Even with these impressive response rates, the call channel is often overlooked when companies explore outbound strategies because of it’s perceived difficulty to execute. Additionally, business sales calls are often negatively associated with invasive B2C “telemarketing” calls, and assumed to require high levels of labor investment while generating little payoff. But when human bias is pushed aside, what do the stats actually indicate? As it turns out, not only do calls receive the high response rates mentioned above, when calls are programmed into personalized emails, click-through rates improve by 14% and conversion rates by 10%. -Aberdeen Group.
With the above facts considered, layering calls into existing email campaigns should be a top priority for any growth-focused business looking to maximize their visibility. This guide aims to ensure your call strategy adds value to your prospects’ buyer experience, and increases your conversions and overall long term customer satisfaction. For real results, your company has to forget about transactional calls. The real power of the phone call does not lie in simply picking up the phone and speed dialing through a contact list. Calls should be layered into a holistic and personalized content strategy that uses calls, emails, and social media, to strategically reach out to your prospects across all the multiple communication channels they already use.
Where to start? The Blueprint of a Successful Sales Prospecting Call
A great prospecting call requires planning and organization. Many sales reps fall into the bad habit of squeezing in calls when they have time, and building their plan along the way. What separates a top sales rep from the rest of the pack is they set themselves up for success by following a plan.
Preparation: Before making a call, research your leads. The more you know about the person you’re talking with, the easier it is to provide them value and have a meaningful conversation. Google their company, look for information on LinkedIn, or check out their social media.
Now that you’ve built a short profile of your lead, you need to define the goal of the call and structure the call around it. Do you want to follow up on shared content? Schedule a demo? Identify the decision maker?
When it comes to calling, your mindset matters. Prepare yourself mentally, be aware of your tone and your body posture, and set aside designated time to make the calls, don’t squeeze them in when you are thinking in a million other different things.
Introduction: The first challenge of every call is to grab your prospect’s attention. You have about 20 seconds to identify yourself and your company, and convince them of a reason why they should care. Your introduction should preview a bit of the value your company adds, without boring or overwhelming your lead with information. A one sentence tagline is what you should aim for.
Questioning: The goal of prospecting calls is to identify your prospect’s’ pain points and decision making process, while at the same time adding value and generating genuine interest in your brand. Asking the appropriate questions allows you to guide your prospect to uncover their own problems. Here are some of the questions that you can use:
- What is the problem you are looking to fix?
- What have you done in the past to try and fix the problem?
- What is your timeline to make this decision?
- How does the decision process work with this sort of purchase?
- Do you have a budget for the project yet?
- What other solutions are you evaluating now?
- Are there any reasons why you wouldn’t make a decision today?
Advocacy: After your prospects respond to each question, you have the opportunity to find the potential solutions to their problems regardless of whether or not the solution is always your product or service. You should think of yourself as a trusted advisor, not as a salesperson. Make sure to offer different options, and share pertinent industry insights or any case studies or use cases from your current customers that might guide them while they make their decision.
Note and Record Keeping: As a sales rep, having trustworthy notes for every call made is crucial to ensuring your prospects experience a personalized sales process and build strong relationship with your company. All data and activity logs must be centralized in the CRM so your Manager and team know exactly where every prospect and customer is in their buyer’s journey, and have all the necessary information at their fingertips to pick up any conversation seamlessly.
What to say? Call Scripts for Every Stage of the Buyer’s Journey
Though reading directly from a script is never a good idea, making an outline of key points to cover and practicing your conversations is often the big difference between a successful, professional call, and a scattered unconfident one.
We’ve gathered some examples for you. They are easily adaptable for any company to guide their prospects through the 3 main buyer’s journey stages; Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
Your first contact with any prospect should be focused on adding value and discovering your prospect’s pain points. This call should be made after first sending the prospect an email that shares a relevant piece of content on a topic of a possible industry wide interest.
- Give a one sentence “tagline” to describe how you help your current customers. Make sure not to over sell yourself or your company!
- Reference the email and content you sent, but don’t bank on them having read it.
- Ask questions. Think of this call as a discovery call. The goal is to uncover pain points, and if possible offer a preview of your company’s solution to those pains.
- The focus of the call should be on building trust, the sales rep should help the prospect consider their options and explore solutions.
“Hey [Contact Name] this is James Cooldude calling from VOIQ, we are a call platform that helps growth-focused companies scale their sales by layering data-driven intelligent calls into their sales stack. I hope you received my email this morning, I sent over [Pertinent content] because we’ve been seeing many companies in [Prospect’s industry] struggling with [Related pain point] . We’ve been [Alleviating pain point] and I wanted to ask you a few questions to identify if you are in a similar boat. [Begin asking top five pain point identifying questions]”
Follow the company on social media or set Google alerts to receive news updates to gain opportunities to engage personally with and check in on prospects that you haven’t heard from in awhile. Or share any relevant content that might help them through the consideration stage.
- Reach out to the contact if you notice any interesting company news.
- Tie the news back to something you discussed in your previous call and ask if they are still trying to find a solution to their original pain points.
“Hey [Contact Name], it’s James again calling from VOIQ, I was surprised to see you pop up in [News source] for [Receiving an award/ Passing a milestone/ Attending an event/ Other positive company news] it made me think of you and our last conversation when we talked about [Soft push back] and I wanted to let you know that [Value add]….so you can continue to make your decision equipped with the best information possible.”
When nearly all that’s left is to dot the “I”s and cross the “T”s make sure you don’t lose focus. Today’s purchasing and acquisitions processes are complex, and often made by entire teams. Always restate value and offer to talk with any other contacts involved in the final decision.
- Remind them of why they were interested originally.
- Ask why they may be hesitant to make the decision. (Have they gone with someone else? Are they focusing on solving a different pain point? Do they still have concerns? Are they a later opportunity or completely uninterested?)
- Verify they don’t need anything more from you, and that everyone on the decision team has all the information they need.
- Ask directly for a time frame to follow-up, so you know when to take your next steps.
“Hey Hannah, James again, with VOIQ. After our chat last Friday you seemed very interested solving your [prospect’s pain point] problem and I would love to get the wheels in motion from our end. I wanted to make sure everyone on your decision team is feeling comfortable moving forward, and let you know I can reach out directly to anyone who could use a bit more information. Could you let me know the time frame your team is looking at for when you might be ready to take the next step?….
What if the Contact Pushes Back? Handling Objections like an Expert
This is not hot news. In sales you’re inevitably going to encounter push back and will need to develop a plan to address it in a thorough and professional way.
Below are some examples of the most common push backs and how to overcome them.
“I need to ask the (manager/ tech department/ etc.)”
This objection is an obvious attempt to get off the phone and avoid the responsibility of a decision. A simple way to remain part of the communication process is to ask if you can attend the meeting between them and their supervisor to explain the benefits personally, or ask to be included in the email they will send. Although being direct will sometimes push the lead to a hard “no”, it’s better to disqualify a lead early on than further waste both of your time with pointless follow-ups if they are truly uninterested.
“We’re apprehensive of changing.”
Some prospects may be hesitant to deviate from their current process or change providers. In order to overcome this objection, ask questions to understand the root cause of their apprehension. Are they worried about damaging their current vendor relationship? Do they fear the repercussions of making an unsuccessful vendor change? Once you understand their reasoning share facts, testimonials, or case studies, to provide them tangible proof to combat their uncertainty.
“Your solution is too expensive.”
The most effective response to price objections is to connect with your lead’s pain points and demonstrate the value you offer well before budget talks. If the lead understands the value you offer but continues to object firmly on price, they are either not in the right financial moment to make a purchase or they are looking to negotiate. Remember when negotiating to ask the magic questions “What budget do you currently have in mind?” that will get the negotiation started and give you the space to make a counter offer.
“… but I’ve never heard of your company before.”
The best way to combat this objection is to integrate calls into a comprehensive strategy that leverages email campaigns and social media outreach to share blogs, client case studies and testimonials, so you’re cold calling is actually always “warm calling”. A “warm calling” strategy should eliminate this push back but, if you ever end up receiving this objection on a phone call, you can make reference to a shared Linkedin or Twitter common contact, or refer them to the email you sent them earlier in which you shared relevant content.
“This isn’t the right time for us to make a purchase.”
Most important in this scenario is to take detailed notes of the lead’s reason for why they aren’t interested right now. Is it a budget issue? Are they going to try a competitor? Has their focus changed? Once you have a better understanding of their pain point you can prepare to address their concerns the next time you reach out. When the time comes, make sure to offer them something new (a discount, a free trial, or additional training/guidance/support) and arrive to the conversation ready to address their specific pain point.
How to Measure my Activity? Key Sales Prospecting Call Metrics to Track
Once you have built a successful sales call channel, you need to start measuring its performance. Track how well you are meeting your goals and how leads are interacting and progressing through your sales funnel. And most important, review all the data captured and gain the necessary insights to improve and optimize your next call campaign.
Though data collection can often sound like a complicated process, the most important call metrics are as intuitive as the email campaign metrics you should be tracking in your CRM.
Here are the 3 main metrics to measure your call channel performance:
Number of Activities to Connect with a Lead
Make sure to track the number of calls, emails, social media interactions, or any other touch points you execute when pursuing a lead. This information will help you better understand your optimal outreach cadence and discover the sweet spot for interacting with your leads.
Lead Quality and Reach Effectiveness
Track how many calls actually ring through to quality contacts or decision makers, and how many of those contacts need your service or are a good fit. If your lead list is outdated or is targeting the wrong prospects, then it’s time to rethink your target demographic or find a new lead provider.
Engagement Rate or Push Back
Record and analyze all push backs, as well as keep track of the level of interest expressed by your leads. This will help you gain insight into what messaging is working and what can still be improved. If you’re failing to convert 50% of your qualified leads to the next stage (demo, meeting, trials) you need to focus on improving your pitch and demonstrating your value clearly.
This guide is based on the lessons learned through our experiences calling thousands of prospects on behalf of our clients. Companies who leverage personalized calls and tailor their outreach with the goal of adding value at each stage of the buyer’s journey will be the companies that outperform the competition.
Now that you have the sales prospecting call blueprints, script examples, objection rebuttals, and know the important call metrics to track, you have everything you need to develop a holistic outbound strategy that will improve your conversion rates and improve your customer’s sales experience.
Originally published at blog.voiq.com.