Marketing calls it lead generation, sales calls it prospecting. If we call it “lead prospecting” and I promise that you can do a better job,can we agree to work together?
Because I have no doubt that combining the strengths of the two teams will:
- Drive more leads into the revenue funnel
- Improve the quality of those leads
- Shorten the sales cycle ……and what more could you possibly want?
So with that in mind, here are 5 ways for sales and marketing to work together to create a telephone prospecting system. But first, why the phone?
- Because it’s the best way to gain account specific answers
- Because when sales reps need leads they don’t initiate SEO, PPC or advertising campaigns. They don’t design complex autoresponders or build landing pages and webforms. That’s what marketing does. Sales reps pick up the phone. That’s where marketing can lend a few strengths and help them get better results. Everybody wins.
How Can Marketing Help Sales Increase Teleprospecting Success
Build, Update and Clean Data — What is your ideal customer profile? What are the MINIMUM number of accurate and updated fields you need to build into your database to direct future lead prospecting. If exact industry, revenue or number of employees is genuinely relevant commit to having that data accurately included. Just don’t ask the sales team to update that kind of information. It is however to everyone’s benefit if sales is empowered and required to flag missing critical data.
Record, Measure and Learn from your Metrics –When you engage in any dialogue with a company it will either move a potential sale forward, push it to the future, disqualify it, or worst of all – tell you nothing. To avoid that terrible “tell nothing ” result, arm your sales team (via the CRM or however you work) with an “if all else fails” list. They might just be simple closed end qualifying questions to round out your data when a conversation goes south. Given that even with your best efforts, it’s likely that your database will have gaps, filling them will build a clearer picture of who your best prospects really are and how they might be changing over time. Track the results of every call, match it to you profiles and use that information to fine tune your future targeting.
Bury the Elevator Speech! –Too many sales people use the elevator speech “Who we are and what we do” as the basis of their messaging and it is an utter waste of a precious opportunity. This is where marketing can offer the most valuable help – give your reps value based messaging to leave. Create a sequence of messages, voicemails with their email follow ups that talk about your value proposition and will gradually, by virtue of repetition, build some awareness of the problems you can solve and interest in talking with your company. The hardest part of this step is to gain the support of the sales management, because many of the reps will resist accepting alternative messages.
Never Give Up — I know of a company that literally makes millions of calls a year to engage and qualify prospects on behalf of many different B2B vendors. Their average number of dials to make a live connection is 22 calls. Most sales people still give up after 3 attempts. What sales needs are calling campaigns not individual one-off attempts. Without the structure of a planned, consistent campaign you will never make enough calls. Marketing plans campaigns much better than sales teams can. This is probably the single biggest reason that many companies have moved teleprospecting totally out of the sales group, but that hasn’t happened everywhere yet.
Open the Door to Your Nurtured Lists –Some companies have structured outbound sales calling but far more have sales teams who would rather not be making these dreaded calls, but have to because they simply don’t have enough qualified (or not) leads to follow-up with. When your sales team is doing their own prospecting calls, be sure that they have a view of the leads that are in your lead nurturing program and a free hand to call into that list at their discretion.
Some marketing teams will resist the idea of letting sales reps call leads being nurtured on the grounds that they are pulling them along a carefully designed path and a ham handed sales rep could make a mess of all their hard work. It’s true. It can happen, but in the spirit of two teams genuinely working together to improve their results, it needs to happen. If you need the sales team to trust you enough to take ownership of your messaging, the trust will have to move both ways.