Tag Archives: sales prospecting

Sales Prospecting and Quality Leads

If there was ever a good reason for marketing and sales to drop the walls and find new and better ways to work together, the priority the market has placed on generating high quality leads would be it.

In some companies it’s possible that sales is completely out the lead generation (better known in sales circles as “prospecting”) game.  But I speculate that organizations with a marketing organization that enjoys the budget and the staffing to be able to keep sales supplied with a stream of high quality leads are few and far between.  And that means that in thousands of companies, sales reps are still hitting the phones and there is one very good thing about that. In spite of the difficulties that they face, when an experienced sales rep does manage to develop a lead for their use, chances are it’s a good one.

What is this statement based on?

A few things actually, all of which revolve around how most sales reps prospect for their own leads

  • Sales reps tend to work from more targeted lists.  They will spend more time calling into those markets that reflect their current customer base – accounts where there is already a better chance of finding a fit. Cherry picking can have its advantages
  • Sales reps call to the titles who they have found in the past are actually involved in the different aspects of the business decision.
  • Sales reps use a one-on-one more personal outreach than the one-to-many approach that marketing teams are required to follow.  As difficult as it might be to register a message these days, are you likely going to pay more attention to an individual calling you or just another mass message from a faceless corporate entity? (Granted, every message has to be a good one)
  • Messages that sales reps leave are more tailored to the companies and the titles that they are reaching out to than many mass marketing messages will ever be.
  • Sales reps tend to reach out in different ways. Email, phone and regular mail feature prominently instead of just more and more low-cost online messaging
  • Sales leads are finally developed though a live dialogue, with some qualification questions and an indication of interest..

So, when you add up all the factors that are contributing to the sales prospecting process, its pretty easy to understand why and to accept, that when a sales rep develops a lead through their own prospecting efforts, it will almost inevitably be a better quality lead than will come from most mass efforts.

The problem of course, is the time and effort it takes for sales people to get those leads and their failure to consistently keep feeding their own sales funnel….which is why the sales/marketing relationship needs some co-operative effort.

….more to come

 

 

Research or Procrastination?

I was just looking over an earlier post that included a link to 12 Prospecting Rules and one idea stood out –  confusing prospecting research with actual prospecting.

It resonated with me because in my experience, the “need” for precall research, is one of the most frequently cited reasons for not picking up the phone and often nothing more than a thin excuse to rationalize call reluctance.

Just to define the space, I’m talking about telephone calls made to a list where you have a contact name and title in a company that should generally be a good fit for whatever you are selling.  They have not asked for a call so I’m calling this “cold” although that research need often extends to companies who have not necessary asked to be called, but have expressed some interest in a problem you can solve as evidenced by a white paper download. ( I call that a warm lead.)

So what you need to do is pick up the phone and establish contact. That is called prospecting.  But what most people do – is first go to Linkedin and look up the person ( which is just fine- take a minute and do that) and then go to the company website to gain an understanding of the company.  If you ask most reps – certainly the junior ones why they’re doing it, the answer you’ll usually get is that “I don’t want to sound like an idiot”.

You have to ask the juniors because they don’t know better than to tell you that perfect unvarnished truth. They’ll explain that in looking like an idiot they are convinced that it will reflect badly on the company they represent.  So sorry. That’s a crock. Its an ego protector and does not serve the interests of the company.  What serves the interests of the company is to pick up the phone.

So, how do you manage precall research?  First, by understanding it’s purpose, which is NOT to ensure that you can intelligently discuss the company’s recently issued financial statements or their competitive positioning The purpose of precall research is to quickly find a hook to hang your introduction on.

For example, Boxpilot provides a service that has been successfully employed by hundreds of companies to boost their event registrations and attendance conversions, so my precall research goes immediately to look for upcoming conferences, road shows or other events.  We can also help stretch the reach of a sales group- so I’ll quickly check to see if they’re hiring sales people.

I’ll note their main line of business, in case I have some specific client experience in that area.  It’s prospecting research with a purpose and you get no more than 3 minutes, otherwise you’ll find you lose the discipline of a quick specific search and instead fall into the rabbit hole of web research.