I’ve had to cold call through too many recessions not to recognize that while it might be irreplaceable, it’s terribly inefficient. I resent how it wastes my precious time and I suspect that anyone who shares at least part of the responsibility to generate their own leads knows exactly how I feel.
I’m calling into a very competitive market, to a contact list who rarely answer their phone, are swamped with “sales approach” emails and when I can get them on the phone are skittish to the point of paranoia when it comes to giving a time commitment. What I was seeing within the recent market is that booking a sales discussion – something I used to accomplish in less than 30 dials was now taking over 60. I was not a happy girl. Not only were my contact ratios down, but my close numbers were slipping, too – not for lead follow up – those numbers are steady, but my ability to book appointments on cold connections was down to a half of what it used to be.
Like many other reps, I tried different approaches (but that didn’t help) and I tried to compensate by boosting my outbound volume, which accomplished nothing tangible beyond further frustrating me and eventually burning me out. I left sales.
And then I came back with a different tactic, one that I had the luxury to test and improve because I happen to sell guided voicemail for a living and one I can share with you.
I won’t speak with a contact until I have a reason to believe they already know who I am, what areas (that hopefully line up with their problems) I am calling about and hopefully have managed to grease the wheels just a little bit with some free information. Using a combination of voicemail with an email follow up, I use several different messaging series, which are delivered to the contacts on my list before these precious little fingers of mine ever hit the dial.
- I was disappointed at first with the terrible open rates on my emails, but a lot of headline work has improved that.
- I was discouraged for a while with the limited number of direct responses to my messaging. But you know that just as much as the message – timing is everything (at least in this market) . My contacts are very focussed on today’s problems, not next month’s.
- I was thoroughly pissed off that the contact numbers were at first, no better than before – averaging 16 attempts to make a connection: however by ensuring that my database was updated after the initial rounds of messaging, grouping different job titles and an increased calling frequency away from the mid morning/afternoon main meeting blocks, there has been a significant improvement down to an average of 12 attempts. It’s not terrific, but its a lot better.
- As the different messaging series grew in length, I became encouraged with my improved ratios on booking appointments and getting referrals.
Another aspect of this project which cannot be ignored was the benefit I gained in developing the messages in the first place, really having to think about what an interested prospect could want from me and being more mindful of their needs when I did make that first contact. Sadly, this isn’t a one size/one service fits all world, (wouldn’t our lives be easier if it was?) so sometimes the messaging doesn’t fit with their interests. But opt outs give me a chance to wait a while and come back from a different direction.
Here’s a look at how the numbers are tracking:
Connections to Dials:
- 2009/2010 1:10
- 2011 1:17
- 2013 Fall 1:15
- 2013 Fall/Winter 1:14
- 2014 Winter 1:12
Meetings/Referrals to Connections:
- 2009/2010- 1:2.5
- 2011 – 1:3.5
- 2013 Fall – 1:3.5 ( up to 2 delivered messages)
- 2013 Fall/Winter 1:3.0 (3-4 delivered messages)
- 2014 Winter 1:2.75 (5-6 delivered messages)
Meetings/Referrals to Dials
- 2009/2010 1:25
- 2011 1:60
- 2013 Fall 1:53 (0-2 messages)
- 2013 Fall/Winter 1:42 (3-4 messages)
- 2014 Winter 1:33 (5-6 messages)
This is still a work in progress, but the results are looking pretty obvious, by using advanced messaging to not only clean up my list but warm up the contacts so that they are more likely to either be willing to give up some time or on the other hand, step forward and help to narrow down the subjects that might have appeal to them I am now accomplishing in 33 dials what was taking as many as 60 before.
This is a good thing.