Last month, I attended and presented at an AA-ISP chapter meeting in Los Angeles, where we discussed an important topic in today’s increasingly remote and phone-based sales environment – reaching the decision maker. To give you some indication of the challenge we face in phone-based selling, take a look at these numbers – 76% of junior executives and 47% of higher level executives rejected their last three sales calls, according to a recent study by SCi Sales Group.
While the figures above may seem a little discouraging when it comes to getting past a gatekeeper and reaching a decision maker, last month’s Los Angeles AA-ISP chapter meeting brought together a panel sales of experts that had some great advice to help you beat the odds – so here goes:
1. Referral email – Aaron Ross, author/CEO, Predictable Revenue, Inc., talked about referral emails as an effective alternative to cold calling. First, know which contact or department you are ultimately trying to reach. Send an email off to someone within the organization that can help you reach the decision maker or department involved in the decision making process. Often times, this initial email is sent to an executive assistant, receptionist or even a manager. Skip the elevator pitch in your email and ask to be referred to the contact you are trying to reach. Keep it simple – “Who handles your billing and can you tell me how to get in touch with them?”
2. Referral by phone – Aaron also provided a few tips on how to take a similar approach over the phone. One of his suggestions is to ask for the office of the president or assistant to a senior executive. “If you are friendly and respectful, you can get someone to want to help you. While they aren’t the decision maker they can often tell you who that is,” said Aaron.
3. “Lost lamb” approach – Aaron also suggested taking the “lost lamb” approach by using: “I’m a little lost, hoping you can help me find the right person to talk to.”
4. Call later in the day – Scott Tretsky, director of inside sales at Central Desktop noted you have a better chance of getting in touch with people who have decision making authority later in the day. These individuals are usually in meetings most of the day and use the early evening hours to catch up on work.
5. Ask for industry advice – Scott also gave a personal example of something that worked on him. Someone recently asked Scott for advice as an industry expert. Scott felt obligated to help the caller, and in the end, the caller leveraged the information to discuss the product he was offering.
6. LinkedIn 2nd degree invite campaign – Peter Belanger, president, Sales Rebound Associates, recommends joining LinkedIn groups to build up your second degree connections on LinkedIn. He recommends you join at least 50 groups and then leverage the custom invitation functionality to send personal messages to like-minded individuals that could be potential customers. An invite to a local event you think they’d be interested in, or a webinar you’re hosting.
7. 3×3 research approach – Kevin Gaither, inside sales expert, also shared a valuable piece of wisdom with the group. The 3X3 approach developed by Vorsight. The concept helps you manage time spent on researching prospects. The rule of 3X3 states that you should have some context before attempting to reach out to a prospect, so spend three minutes to find three valuable pieces of information about your prospect that you’ll actually use in the conversation.
8. Ask for permission – Chad Burmeister, VP of corporate sales at Connect and Sell, recommends asking for permission by saying: “I know I am an interruption, can I have 47 seconds of your time to tell you why I called?” Why 47 seconds? It’s not too long and not too short and often serves as an ice breaker with prospects on the other end of the line.
9. Prioritize – As a panelist, I also shared a few tips that work well for our inside sales team at Velocify. The first tip revolves around prioritization. Some of my top reps are methodical about how they prioritize their day. Part of this is done through the activity prioritization functionality in our LeadManager product, but also in other ways the reps block out their time, focusing on specific types of activities throughout the day. Our Business Development Reps for example, who work to generate outbound leads, spend an hour of their time calling down a list, another hour on customized referral email campaign efforts, etc. This approach keeps them focused and efficient around the activity they are engaged in.
10. Be intriguing – Another tip I shared at the event was to be intriguing when leaving a voicemail. Don’t give your prospect too much information on a voicemail. Keep it brief, saying something like: “I have something you might be interested in, give me a call back” or “I saw something and thought of you. Take a look at the email I sent.” It piques their curiosity and increases the likelihood of engagement.
Hope these tips help your sales team more effectively reach decision makers. For a few more tips, check out a recent blog by Lori Richardson of Score More Sales on the 30 tips for reaching prospects. You might also find our recent guide – The Ultimate Guide to High-Velocity Selling, helpful in identifying new ways to ensure your team is working at its full potential.
About the author: Dan Salazar joined Velocify in 2010 and is the director of sales. Dan and his team have been instrumental in using Velocify internally, beta testing every feature and providing ongoing feedback to improve Velocify’s LeadManager and Dial-IQ products.