by Erik Freitag and Matt Johnson
The VP of Sales and the National Account Manager walk into a bar…
Erik and I have made a call, sent an email and told a bad joke or two in our lifetimes. Today we want to chat about sales strategy and a bit of etiquette that can help you along the way of pushing a lead to a qualified prospect.
Always have a signature in your email. (both the sales person and the lead/prospect)
Matt: I see a lot of higher ups ignore this tactic either on purpose because they don’t want to disclose their information or because they simply don’t know how to set it up. Obviously this helps the sales person gather information but what if the lead/prospect wants to call you right then and there? I better have my phone number listed in my signature or the body of the email.
Erik: It’s my belief that this is crucial for the sales rep. I’ve also seen leads/prospects remove their contact info from the email chain but at some point, they have usually sent it to us in one way or another. This is why it is KEY to capture the critical contact info from our leads/prospects and immediately transfer it to our CRM database.
How many times is enough to reach out cold to someone new? sales person to lead
Erik: There are various opinions and some of the tactics may change depending on product/industry/person trying to contact. The important factor here is to be direct & clear with voice messages and/or emails. As in any sale, there is a fine line between persistence and overkill. The latter obviously becomes annoying to our prospect and therefore is a poor strategy. I think multiple attempts (3-4) to contact a lead/prospect over an initial 2 week period is more than enough to create an interest or to be ignored and move on.
Matt: A lot of studies have been done on this stuff. I mostly like to reach out 4 different ways to one person and typically wait about 3 months before re-emailing unless you have a dialog going. I had one guy reach out to me 15 different times about one product that we gracefully declined using. It didn’t stop him and now I’m guaranteed to not buy a single thing from his company. Some leads simply die, and when they tell you that they are not interested it’s so simple to respect that. This is sales tact 101.
What tips can help for qualifying someone via first reach phone/email? sales person to lead/prospect
Matt: Often times we’re asked for samples and/or something custom specific to get a “free” answer to a question. I’ve learned the hard way by being eager early on especially when you can pre-qualify someone’s job title, function or the size of the company. Do not send samples without having some type of back and forth dialog. See how quickly they respond and note the time that they respond to your emails. This is key to pre-qualifying someone.
A good trick I learned is when a lead or prospect promises they’ll do something, that they do it. If they say “I’ll call you back soon” or “Lets touch base next week when I’m back in the office” its your job as the salesperson to do that following up. If they don’t reply soon or touch base after a re-reach its a good indicator for you to concentrate on others.
Erik: I personally feel like in all industry, the biggest objection is “please send me info” or “please send me a sample” It is an easy way to get a sales rep off the phone and also alleviates the prospect from having to say “NO.” However, it’s tricky because to close deals, these things often must happen. Therefore, we must pay attention to when they request a sample, how detailed their request is, and what action item they plan to take with that sample. Lastly, we need to ask when it’s appropriate to follow up on that sample for feedback.
What are some things that annoy you when emailing a person?
Matt: I am very conscious of annoying people (or better worded “not trying to annoy people”). If you get zero response (after 3-4 mixed attempts) from someone I will just push a task, in my crm, to touch base with them on a new product down the road. Or maybe if I know I’m going to be in their area for a conference/event or we were written up somewhere that might interest them I might re-pop them to see if they’re interested.
A big thing, and maybe was the original focus of this blog was to talk about the reply to a reply.
Here is an example:
I am writing to you because you said that I should reach back to you at this time to discuss xyz.
I’m out of the office this week, but I promise to reach back to you next week.
I (Matt) does NOT reply here with a simple “ok thanks”. Those emails are time wasters and add up to nothing getting done in the long run. I simply set a task to reach back to that person “next week”. Do the reminding and do the prodding for the lead/prospect.
Point of the story: Don’t reply with “ok thanks” emails. Just setup a task in your crm for them and if they forget or don’t have time for you (or don’t make time for you) after a couple tries that is a good indicator of a lead, who in my opinion, who is either too busy, doesn’t care about your product, or you need to come at them another way to connect with them (sell better).
Erik: I think 3-4 attempts should be enough to provoke an interest or move on. Again, depending on the value of the target, you may want to go further before moving on. Also, it’s important to look for “extra” reach opportunities to all prospects if you read an article or see them I the news.
Communication in most forms today is abbreviated and most professionals feel “busy” all the time and are therefore rushed and short. Having said that, some great rapport can be created using “thank you, how was your weekend, talk to you next week ,etc etc. This is where personality matching can come in handy. A prospect that tends to be more apt to elaborate or ask personal questions, let’s call them a “social prospect,” may react better to small talk and chatter versus a “driver” prospect that just wants info pertaining to business.
Matt’s Parting Thoughts – Erik and I deal mostly with B2B sales. The oil and gas business is built on an old guard of long standing relationships. Bringing a future-forward product to the market like big data and having very few friends in the business beforehand made us think very deeply about how we approach a new customer, how we bring them through the process and how manage the account in post-sale (where I think Primary Vision shines). We always are talking about customers and look to advance some of our open and lining techniques in a tough market place.
Erik’s Parting Thoughts: We find marketing is so important as a lead that comes to you has a much higher rate of conversion. Having said that, it is much easier said than done. When sales reps are on the “hunt” to create business, it’s important to execute a strategy and pay attention to the process. Making calls simply to make calls will get you nowhere. Be direct, confident, and persistent, but recognize that certain prospects are not a good target and move on from them cordially.