I read a great little article a few days ago from the blog Eyes on Sales. The opening which suggests that there are actually sales people whose only career goal is simply keep their job made me laugh. Michael Pedone, who authored the article, clearly has an irreverent sense of humor.
But there was more to this article than a simple chuckle. It was also an illustration of how solid common sense can be one of a good sales persons most important attributes. Just to cut directly to the punch line, Michael suggests that 60 calls including call backs and/or 3 hours of talk time has been his winning formula.
While it’s obvious that talk time should be part of the metric, it’s astonishing how few “how many dial” articles or questions actually cite talk time. After all, dials are only the action. Time in conversation with prospects, customers, and influencers is the goal. Three hours might seem inadequate to some, particularly those who are working in those one-call-to-close boiler room environments. (Yes, there still are many of them around and no, they haven’t all been replaced with the timely miracle of inbound leads).
I actually still speak with many companies who are working in the 100 dials a day paradigm, but to me that sounds demonstrably unproductive. If you were making any connections at all, if you were having any meaningful interactions with the people you want to reach, you would never have the time for 100 calls.
The most important thing for the many, many sales people who still are primarily required to work the phone is to find a way to spend more time talking (and listening- don’t forget that one) and less time dialing. And ideally, less time leaving voicemails. For sales teams it translates into More Calls without More Reps.
But voicemail which has always been a challenge is continuing to place demands on the patience and creativity of sales reps, their managers and the marketing teams that support them.
To expect a call back is pretty optimistic, so what many callers are finding to be the most effective use of voicemail is to simply offer something of value to the prospect or customer and use the phone as a relationship builder. Don’t ever forget that when someone is reading they are only really looking at words, but when they are listening they are hearing you – complete with your tone and manner and emotions. You voice is a powerful tool for building a relationship and voicemail lets you use it. Asking for a passive response such as click on a link or check out the follow up email, will generate more responses which is why email is such a great follow up for voicemail.
If you use the voice part of your message to quickly alert someone to what you have to offer and then provide the nitty gritty detail in the email it will not only let you use both mediums in the most useful possible way, it allows you the maximum flexibility to manage your calling in a campaign format. Once you can drive your voicemail and email follow ups in a campaign system you will first off- exponentially increase the number of calls and messages you can leave each day. In addition to that, you can plan voice and email campaigns like any other drip marketing initiative which will not only ensure consistent, regular contact but will also allow you to create a host of message streams to best manage your list and offer more value to the people who will one day actually engage with you on the phone.
Now, once you have your campaigns in place, does that mean you stop calling? No. It does not. You’re in sales, right? You need to talk to people, right? You just don’t need to leave that same message over and over and you can afford yourself the luxury of a little more call prep to research and make notes on the contacts you want to reach. When you connect, all those notes will help you to relate to the issues and challenges that hopefully your prospects will pay your company to solve and you’ll be building the knowledge you need to create the campaign streams that – over time – will get your own phone ringing again.