When is the Perfect Time to Call a Prospect?
All sales people do it: they dream about the ideal sales call. You pick up the phone and call that executive at that large company that could make your quota for the quarter or even the year. The VITO (Very Important Top Officer) answers the phone and you strike up a conversation with them about how something has just happened in their company and they are in a rush to find someone to provide the exact product or service that you offer. The ideal sales situation is when buyer and seller meet at the right moment at the intersection of an emerging problem and a ready solution. Such an ideal situation may not have happened for most, but innovative technology is steadily moving sales in that direction.
In his recent blog post, Gerhard Gschwandtner, editor of Selling Power magazine, introduces the Tree of Discontent. Here is our modified version of Gerhard's map that shows some of the major challenges salespeople face when calling new prospects.
There are four major areas that affect the success of any prospect call:
- Call Timing
When it comes to the timing, calling too early is a waste of time, and calling too late is a wasted opportunity. Calling at the right time gives salespeople the best chance for advancing the sale.
- Reason for the Call
Salespeople dislike calling prospects without a compelling reason. They know that the odds are against them. They know that positive energy comes from positive ideas to share, positive subjects to discuss, and positive opportunities to share with their prospects.
- Call Motivation
For salespeople, time is money; wasting time with unqualified prospects or prospects that are not going to buy in the foreseeable future is very demotivating. Even worse, is out right cold calling - not only is it demotivating but a huge waste of time.
- Call Preparation
It is often said that the deal can be won or lost in the preparation. The typical reason that most salespeople are not prepared? Lack of time. It can take more time preparing for the call than actually making the call.
There are a number of great technology solutions that can help salespeople improve the timing of their calls, as well as improve their chances of discussing a relevant topic with their prospects, which may lead to a good sales opportunity.
A sales trigger is an activity or event associated with a consequence so significant that it causes new behaviours, new ideas and new opportunities. Brian Carroll, a noted expert in the field of lead generation, wrote in his blog: "One of my clients found companies with their key trigger events were 400% more likely to buy than companies without those trigger events." There is a key moment in sales: getting in front of the right person at exactly the right time - after a decision maker has experienced a trigger event that makes them unhappy with what they have, but before they start doing anything about it.
In the past, this could be very time consuming, and as a result, many sales people would not do it. Thankfully, innovative technology makes it a lot easier for salespeople to learn about trigger events. For example, if you are selling relocation services, a sales trigger will alert you of a company's relocation plans. If you are trying to sell HR services to a $1 billion pharmaceutical company, a sales trigger can alert you to the company's plan to hire. If you are in the telecommunications business, a sales trigger will tell you which company in your database has decided to open a new office.
Products such as Inside View, ZoomInfo and OneSource have created information spiders which scout the Web for deep knowledge that's served up in an easily digestible format. This helps salespeople time their calls better and arm themselves with better, more targeted information.
These spiders allow you to identify which companies or executives have had an event thatcould be in need or your product or service. However, there is also the issue of knowing when these companies are engaging you. Measuing their level of engagement can be a huge factor in sales success. Marketing automation programs allow you to measure this.
Products such as Net-Results, Eloqua and other marketing automation programs make this easy and efficient. In his book Digital Body Language, Steven Woods, introduces how Business -to-Business marketers must decode their buyers' digital body language to understand the roles, information needs, timing, and buying intentions of their elusive target. While Sales triggers help you indentify the who, marketing automation tools allow you to determine the when. You can understand if the buyer is in an awareness stage, or are they discovering what options are available. Ideally you are engage with the prospect in one of these two stages before they enter final purchase stage. Marketing automation allows you to determine, track and engage these prospects so that sales and marketing can nurture them to a closed opportunity.
With sales and marketing working together to use these tools and share information, organizations can not only identify the exact prospects to target but also how, and when, to engage them. We are moving towards a "Real-Time Selling" Model. Buyers are becoming more and more reluctant to see or talk to a salesperson unless that person can meet two conditions: call at the right time and discuss solutions to problems that are in the buyer's real-time field of awareness. With the integration of trigger event spiders, marketing automation and CRM systems, sales people can call on the right prospect, at the right time for the right reason. Companies that embrace, engage and enable these technologies will not only lead the way in their marketplace but they will also see substantial growth and return on investment.
Want to Learn more download our Free e-Book: How to Align Sales and Marketing
How to Align Sales and MarketingLearn how to solve the 2 biggest things that affect how sales and marketing work together.
Download our free Sales and Marketing Alignment eBook.