Inside Sales Buzz Blog

Inside Sales, Scripts & Cold Call Techniques from Michael Pedone

Sales Voicemail Statistics – Is leaving a message worth it?

by MichaelPedone 3. March 2015 13:35

Sales Question: "Can you PROVE that leaving voicemails are worth it? What have you found to be the average % of returned calls? What are the statistics?"
 
SalesBuzz Answer: By Michael Pedone

Here’s my concern with your question…

Are you looking for stats to defend your stance to not leave voicemail messages? Or are you truly looking for data to determine if you should start leaving them?

If you’ve already decided that you don't want to leave a voicemail message, I’m not here to try and change your mind. If, however, you are looking for facts in order to make a sound business decision, my question to you is this:

“How many callbacks do you get if you DON'T leave a voicemail?” 

Of course, the answer to that is ZERO. 

So if I left a message with every new sales call I made in a day that went to voicemail, and I only received ONE call back per day, that’s 100% more than you would get.

I look at it this way… If you are fishing, you have to cast your line. If you’re going to cast your line, you might as well have bait on the end of it. 

Not leaving a voicemail is like casting your hook with nothing on it. 

HAVING THE RIGHT EXPECTATIONS

When I’m in “making sales calls” mode, I understand there are several factors outside of my control regarding when a prospect will be ready to buy. My goal is to find the ones who are ready now. 

The one’s who aren’t, I at least want to make sure I’m on top of mind with them so that when a trigger event does happen, they call me to help them solve it. Leaving a compelling voicemail might not get you a call back today, but it can help you get a call back when the prospect is in high problem solving / buying mode. 

With that said, I’ve found that the ones that DO call back the same day are the ones that are further along in the buying cycle and THOSE ARE THE LEADS I want to be talking with anyway. 

Here’s something to think about as well, Prospects have this thing called: CALLER ID.

If you keep calling and don’t leave a message, isn’t it a safe bet the prospect would become agitated, always seeing your company name pop up, but never knowing why you are calling? The more you call and DON’T leave a message, the more you appear to be a pesky salesperson.

Annoying your prospect before ever talking to them is not a successful strategy.

If a prospect is worth chasing, they are worth a creative voicemail message. Something that has a WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM, mixed with a little bit of your personality that will entice them to want to call you back. 

Make sure you have at least three solid first time call messages in your playbook as well as three coinciding emails that you send right after each voicemail. 

Don't give up after leaving one message. I can’t tell you how many times a prospect has taken my 2nd or 3rd attempt only to hear them say “sorry I haven’t gotten back to you till now, things have been crazy busy.” Your prospects are busy and they want to grow / improve their business. Be part of the solution to help them get what they want and you will end up getting what you want: A call back that leads to new business relationship.

- Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com. An online sales training company that shows inside sales teams how to: avoid being rejected by gatekeepers, leave voicemail messages that get callbacks and overcome tough pricing objections. Request a proposal here to have Michael teach your sales team his techniques!


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Are You Making Too Many Contact Attempts?

by MichaelPedone 24. February 2015 03:15

Sales Question: "How many attempts should I make to connect with a prospect before moving on?"
 
SalesBuzz Answer: By Michael Pedone

I’ve read statistics that says it takes 6, 12 even 18 attempts to reach a prospect. But here’s the thing, I don’t use one rule across all lead types.

I believe it is best to analyze the lead to determine how much time and effort you will put into getting that prospect on the phone. 

In order to make an educated decision in this area, you have to know a few KPI’s (Key Prospecting Indicators) such as:

Is this a cold call or a warm lead? 

Warm lead = They were raising their hand in some way – such as they filled out a form on your website asking for pricing info. Warm leads obviously tend to be a little farther along in the buying cycle, so they get top attention.

What is their Title? 

If it’s a straight up cold call, you control who you are targeting, therefore, you should only be reaching out to those with the title of someone that is typically heavily involved in the decision making process. 

Quick side note: This does NOT mean you always have to speak to the CEO unless that is the person that is almost always the decision maker for what it is that you offer. 

For example, when I’m personally working a larger deal, the CEO (for my specific industry) is almost NEVER involved. If, however, the lead is a small to mid-size business, the OWNER / CEO is almost ALWAYS involved. You have to know your targeted audience! 

If you don’t know the top three titles of those who normally make a decision when it comes to buying your product / service, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed today.

When it comes to warm inbound leads, you have no control over who decided to raise their hand. Even though a warm lead presents itself, it could be from someone that has little to no power. On the flip-side, they could have been directed by a decision maker to get some info and could really be a hot lead.

So what do you do? How do you proceed? 

I’ve found that if there’s a warm lead and the title of that person is what I know to be a non-decision maker, in most cases, if they were instructed to look into this, it won't take many attempts on my part in order for them to give me a call back. 

If, on the other hand, it’s a warm lead, but the title of the prospect is what I know to be a non-decision maker and they were looking into this on their own, it seems to take more attempts. And here’s the problem: non-decision maker + self interest = lots of chasing and little to zero ROI. 

Why would I want to have a standard rule that says I have to try and contact someone 16 times when statistically, based on the info given (lead type + title) shows there will be little to no ROI?

There is one last bit of data or KPI that I take into account when deciding how many attempts I will make and that is:

Opportunity Size

All leads aren’t created equal. If you sell software, typically the more “seats” the larger the order. If you sell “logistics” the more they ship, the higher the ROI. If you sell medical supplies, the more patients your prospect sees, the more consumables they will use on a monthly basis, the more revenue you will bring in. Hopefully you get the picture here. 

Even if I were to make 16 attempts to an individual who expressed interest in what I offered, and they finally called back and signed on, the ROI or “opportunity size” was as low as possible, next to being ZERO. Yet, look at all the work I put into that, to only get one small sale.

Therefore, I have a three strikes rule that I use as a basis. 

It works like this: I know I will make a minimum of three call attempts. Each call attempt will be immediately followed-up with an email and there will also be a LinkedIn connection request following my first call attempt. 

That is a total of 7 attempts or “touches” Three calls + three emails + one LinkedIn connection request. 

In addition to that, they will receive at least 1 of my newsletters within that week making the total touches up to 8 within a week’s time. 

If after that I still haven’t heard back from them, I will then make a decision on how many attempts I will continue to go after someone and that will be based on 1) Lead type - cold or warm lead 2) Title and 3) Opportunity size.

If it’s a warm lead and the right title, but they haven’t called me back yet, I will simply call the front desk and ask a question or two that will let me know the opportunity size. (For me, all I have to do is call and ask “How many sales people does your organization have?”) If it’s a nice size number, they stay on my attempt to make contact list. If it’s not, I move on. Simple as that.

- Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com. An online sales training company that shows inside sales teams how to: avoid being rejected by gatekeepers, leave voicemail messages that get callbacks and overcome tough pricing objections. Request a proposal here to have Michael teach your sales team his techniques!


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2nd Sales Call “No-Shows” – Why prospects break their commitment

by MichaelPedone 16. February 2015 04:55

Sales Question: "I’m having issues with prospects not answering for our scheduled phone call. We have discussed initial information and because of the complexity of our services a follow up call is usually necessary. The number of people that do not answer the phone for that scheduled call is ridiculously high to me, any tips in fixing this?"
 
SalesBuzz Answer: By Michael Pedone

I have a couple of questions that may help you find the answer that will help solve this issue for you.

COLD CALL or WARM LEAD?

You mention you had an initial conversation. Was the lead type a warm lead (hand raiser - meaning they reached out to you first) or a straight up cold call?

If it was a true warm lead (they contacted you) what role was the person that made the initial contact? Were they a decision maker or an information gatherer? 

If it was a cold call, did you contact the person with the title that typically makes the decisions on what you offer? Or did you just ask the gatekeeper "Who's in charge of XYZ?"?

You should at least know the typical TITLE of the person that NORMALLY has the final say. Allowing the gatekeeper to determine the person you are going to speak to isn't the best strategy.

PROBLEM RECOGNITION / HOT BUTTONS

How did you confirm what I call "Problem Recognition"? Meaning, did they see / agree to an existing problem and did they agree to wanting a solution?

Did you find / hit a hot button(s) that would make them stop what they are doing and push your next conversation to the top of their priority list?

Did you find a hot button that if/when you call them again, and you get their voicemail, you could mention it in your voicemail to them, and it would generate a call back?

The “WHY”

These questions are important because if you aren't speaking to someone that is responsible for making whatever pain you solve go away, there will be little interest in meeting again.

And if you are meeting with the right person, but fail to get them to see and agree on a problem that they would like solved, there is little to no reason for them to get on a second call.

Most sales people, who have the same problem you are running into, have this type of sales process:

  1. Call
  2. Ask if they are (or who is) the decision maker
  3. Ask a few probing questions (these questions tend to be self serving for the sales person and are very INEFFECTIVE at getting problem recognition)
  4. Data-Dump about what you can offer
  5. Schedule second call
  6. RADIO SILENCE. Prospect disappears.

I'm over simplifying it, but that tends to be the typical "sales process" that leads to the frustration you are experiencing. 

Of course, if you make enough calls, you can use that process and still get a few deals here and there. It's the broken clock theory (even a broken clock is right twice a day).

But if you want to reduce the number of "no-shows" on your follow up calls and start winning more sales, you may want to look at asking better sales questions that are designed to establish problem recognition and a benefit picture. 

One last thing...

Did you call your prospect two days before your scheduled meeting to make sure you were still on? Better to find out early if they plan on bailing so that you A) have a chance to rescue the meeting and B) If it's a definite "no-go", you have 48 hours to fill that spot with a hotter lead / prospect.

- Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com. An online sales training company that shows inside sales teams how to: avoid being rejected by gatekeepers, leave voicemail messages that get callbacks and overcome tough pricing objections. Request a proposal here to have Michael teach your sales team his techniques!


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Lost a Deal to Your Competitor? Read this...

by MichaelPedone 10. February 2015 04:48

Sales Question: "I just lost a deal to a competitor. Our program is more robust and I even offered our solution to them for less than what they ended up paying for the other solution. What should I do?  "
 
SalesBuzz Answer: By Michael Pedone

If the other deal is finalized, it would be in your best interest to quickly review the steps that were taken and LOOK for areas where you may have been at fault. Most salespeople will only look for what they did right in order to say “see, I did everything the way I was supposed to.” If you want to learn from this, in order to reduce the chances of it happening again, it’s important to try and identify areas that MAY HAVE caused a misstep that lead your prospect to take action with your competitor.

Here are a couple areas of interest you may want to consider asking yourself:

“Was I truly selling in my prospect’s best interest, or was I rushing the sales process in order to try and “get the deal in” before the end of the month?”

“Did I have full commitment from them wanting a solution?” And, if you didn’t have full commitment of them wanting a solution, why did you even discuss price, let alone offer them a “better deal”?

Were they “sold” on your solution to their problem?

If mistakes were made and you find them, take responsibility and MOVE ON. This is how we learn. This is how we get better. We don't like the taste of losing a deal. Swallow it and use it as motivation to be better so it doesn’t happen again.

The Other Side of the Coin

On the flip side, there are times when you’ve done everything right and you know what? The prospect simply preferred the other solution. It happens. MOVE-ON. No sense over analyzing why, what seemed to be a sure thing, went south. That’s why I mention above to do a “quick” review. Whether mistakes were made or not, don’t let a lost deal turn into two, three or four by being hung up on what you can’t change.

Live to Fight Another Day

So they went with someone else. Take the high road and let them know you will be there for them if things don't go the way they want and back up your words with action. If they are a fish worth chasing, continue to be an occasional presence and offer your industry advice and continue to brand yourself as a trusted industry advisor / subject matter expert so that if your competitor drops the ball, or a new opportunity arises, they give you a second shot. 

Happy Selling.

- Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com. An online sales training company that shows inside sales teams how to: avoid being rejected by gatekeepers, leave voicemail messages that get callbacks and overcome tough pricing objections. Request a proposal here to have Michael teach your sales team his techniques!


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How to Get Referrals from Your Existing Clients

by MichaelPedone 27. January 2015 05:51

Sales Question:

"What’s the Best Way to Get Referrals from Your Existing Clients? Our sales team is calling and asking the “WHO DO YOU KNOW?” question but we aren’t having much success."

SalesBuzz Answer: By Michael Pedone

I’m not a fan of the “Who do you know?” question for two reasons:
  1. It puts your client on the spot when they weren’t prepared for it;
  2. Even when you get a few names, in most cases, they are just about an inch above the quality of opening a phone book and randomly picking out a name.
Your clients may be a great fit, but that doesn't mean they know what your ideal target looks like. In many cases, you end up with a few random names that come to their mind in the heat of the moment, yet they aren’t qualified.

Now, of course, you’ll always have a time or two where it pans out in your favor, but if that was happening often enough, I doubt you’d be asking me this question to begin with.

Something else to think about… even if it does work on occasion, at what price? How many clients are you willing to have “fear” your incoming call because they know you’re looking to squeeze a referral out of them? Just something to think about.

Of course, when prospects start to refer you to their connections all on their own, those leads are worth their weight in gold. But that’s a different “referral” altogether.

A Better “Referral” System

What I’ve found to be the best system for generating warm referral leads is to do the following:

1) Create a 20-minute webinar that SOLVES A PROBLEM for your core audience. This webinar is NOT a company commercial nor a 20-minute DEMO of what it is that you offer. In fact, when the webinar starts, SKIP the 5-minute who you are, what your company does BS and get right to the problem at hand and then show your audience HOW TO SOLVE IT.

For an example on what a SOLVE THE PROBLEM WEBINAR looks like in action, see our webinar on: Voicemail Strategies – How to Get More Prospects to Call You back, TODAY!

2) Let Email Do the Work. Once your 20-minute HOW TO SOLVE A PROBLEM webinar is created, send out an email to your client list letting them know that you would like to invite them to attend the session and if they would simply forward the email to some of their business or Linkedin connections they feel would also benefit from it.

You could even suggest they “tweet” about it. If your subject line (the title of your webinar) is strong and on point with your targeted audience, you could generate anywhere from 50 to 500 fresh new leads, with one well crafted and managed email blast.

Now, which would you rather call on… 2 or 3 names that were coughed up in a pressure situation, or have 50 to 500 fresh new leads to call on that attended your webinar and now see you as an industry subject matter expert on helping them solve their problems?

For more ideas like this, register now for our upcoming 8-week phone skills improvement workshop series.

- Michael Pedone

Michael Pedone is the CEO/FOUNDER of SalesBuzz.com. An online sales training company that shows inside sales teams how to: avoid being rejected by gatekeepers, leave voicemail messages that get callbacks and overcome tough pricing objections. Request a proposal here to have Michael teach your sales team his techniques!

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Michael Pedone, founder and CEO of Live Online Sales Training Company SalesBuzz.com
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