How to Keep Your Best Sales Leads From Plunging to Their Death

Too many great sales leads die in the first 15 seconds. Instead of taking flight, the sales lead quickly plummets to the ground.

 

The biggest reason why promising sales leads fail is the sales rep’s choice of opening statements. From the moment your sales reps get on the phone with a prospect, they can either cause the premature death of the sales lead, or nurture the lead into a deeper ongoing sales relationship.

 

Here are three of the biggest “lead-killing” opening statements that your sales reps might be making:

 

  • “I understand you are interested in buying (our product, service or solution).”
  • “I understand you are very unhappy with your existing (vendor/solution) and are going to replace it.”
  • “I understand that your existing vendor is not doing a very good job.”

 

The reason these statements kill sales leads is because they are not rapport building statements, they are deal-closing questions. If the first thing you say to a prospect is, “Are you ready to buy from me?” chances are you are going to build sales resistance (without even realizing it).

 

If your sales reps are asking for the sale too soon and making closing statements way too early in the conversation, it will be devastating to the follow-up process and you will unwittingly drive away many sales leads that might have been interested to buy from you if your sales team had handled the process a bit more gracefully. For more about the reasons why reps often rush the follow-up process (with damaging results), read my earlier article on the 80/20 rule.

 

Why are these “lead-killing” opening statements so bad for your sales process?

 

  • They assume too much. If you ask any of these questions to the prospect and the prospect answers “yes,” that means that he/she is automatically welcoming you to enter their sales cycle. But most prospects aren’t ready to move quite that fast. Don’t overstep your bounds, and don’t assume too much based on a limited amount of information. Just because you happen to have some business intelligence supplied by your lead generator does not mean you have already been selected as a preferred vendor. Slow down and be prepared to work through the process of building rapport, developing a relationship, and showing the prospect how you can help resolve their specific pain issues.
  • The questions make you sound like an order taker. If the first thing a prospect hears from you on the phone is, “Are you ready to buy from me?” that tends to dissuade people from having further conversation. Moving too fast is a total turn off for most prospects. Instead of sounding like a seasoned professional who knows the prospect’s industry and is focused on helping the prospect solve a problem, asking closing questions too fast makes you sound like a telemarketer who is merely reading from a checklist. This comes off as high pressure.

 

Unfortunately, when prospects get turned off by presumptuous, high-pressure or overly assumptive sales calls and exit the conversation early, most sales reps are completely oblivious about the reasons why the sales lead died. Too often as a result of the above process, reps will report these leads are “unqualified.” Instead of taking a closer look at what they are doing on the phone, the reps will be quick to blame your lead “source” as not effectively qualifying leads.

 

You can’t be monitoring every call your reps make so watch for these kinds of entries in your CRM system:

 

  • “Prospect said he is staying with his existing vendor for now.”
  • “Prospect says…I never said (_____________).”
  • “Prospect said he only requested information and is not in the market at this time.”

 

Read between the lines – these are defensive comments, indicating that the prospects are fending off overly aggressive, assumptive statements by the sales rep. If your sales reps are making these types of notes frequently, that is a sign that something the reps are saying on the phone is unknowingly driving away your sales leads. Once the prospect is in a defensive mode the chances of the lead advancing are very slim.

 

In reality, the prospect did say all of those things to your lead generator that were indicative of interest and openness to the possibility of buying. But when the first thing that the prospect hears from your sales rep are closing questions and assumptive statements, the prospect goes into “exit mode,” feeling so turned off by the rep’s tactics that they just want to end the call as soon as possible.

 

Instead of starting a call with closing questions, train your sales reps to warm up the call by opening with rapport-building questions:

 

  • How did you get into the business?
  • How long had you been trying to solve these issues?
  • What have you tried to do to fix these issues?
  • What kind of impact is this having on your day-to-day operations?
  • How do you measure that?

Instead of assuming that the prospect is ready to buy, take some time to build a relationship and find out more about the prospect’s specific pain issues. Then work through the sales process to link your solutions to the prospect’s needs, demonstrate your company’s capabilities, and prove to the prospect that you can deliver a worthwhile ROI.

 

The first sales call is not a deal-closing opportunity – instead it’s the first step in a longer, more profitable process. Don’t let your sales reps act like order takers. Train them to be the sophisticated sales professionals that high-value B2B sales demand.

 

Confessions of a Professional Call Screener

Getting past the gatekeepers to talk with decision makers can be one of the most challenging aspects of sales. The more important your decision maker, the more likely it is that they have one or more levels of gatekeepers – administrative assistants, direct reports, etc. – to keep people from reaching them by phone.

 

We interviewed a professional call screener (whose name will remain anonymous to protect his/her identity) to get the inside story on how sales people can avoid getting weeded out by some of the familiar call screening traps – and what it takes to really get through to decision makers.

 

Q. What are the easiest types of calls to identify as “sales calls?”

A. As a call screener, my job is to protect the time of the decision maker that I work for – so I need to make sure I’m not passing through calls that are going to waste our executive’s time. Lots of sales people make it really obvious that they are calling on a sales call – for example, sales people might say, “May I speak to the person in charge of purchasing” or “Who is your current vendor/supplier for (such-and-such) product or system?” When people say this, I immediately know that it’s a sales call, and I put my guard up – because I know they probably don’t have a relationship with our executive and they’re just trying to get through. It’s amazing how many sales people call that really don’t know anything about our company or don’t know the names of the people who work here. It’s like they just got our number off of a calling list.

 

Q. What do you do when you suspect that a call is a sales call?

A. I always say, “Is this a sales call? What are you selling?” The good sales people usually come clean and tell me what type of product or system they sell – there’s no point in trying to deny that they are, in fact, making sales calls. Sometimes I’ll ask them for more information, or I’ll ask them to send me a brochure. At this point, I’m not going to tell them the name of the decision maker, because my job is to keep the decision maker from getting calls like these.

 

Q. Do sales people ever just, well…lie to you? In an attempt to get through to your boss?

A. Yes! All the time. Unfortunately! Lots of sales people will use some kind of line on me, like, “I’m returning your boss’s call,” or “I’m a friend of your boss.” This always makes me suspicious. Because usually, I know who the boss is calling, and I’m usually familiar with the boss’s inner circle of friends who would be calling during a work day. Whenever someone tries one of these lines on me, I know they’re probably a sales person. So I ask them for their name and number, write down the information and double check with my boss before I connect them.

 

Q. What happens if a sales person lies to you?

A. If I find out that a sales person was lying to me, I’m not going to be very helpful in connecting them to my boss in the future.

We need to do business with people we trust. Starting off your first contact with me with a lie is not good business.

 

Q. What is the “right way” for a sales person to approach you, in a way that will make you want to help connect them with the decision maker?

A. The best sales people treat me with respect and try to get to know me and act with courtesy and professionalism. They don’t lie and they don’t try to hide things from me – they are happy to talk about what they do and volunteer information and details about what they’re trying to talk with us about. Just because it’s my job to be the “gatekeeper” doesn’t mean I’m always going to keep the gate shut! If you can show me what kind of value you can offer, and show me how your product or service can help make my boss’s life better, I’ll do what I can to help make sure your information or phone number or whatever gets in front of my boss.

 

Editor’s Note: As an additional bit of advice, we also suggest – try to build relationships with decision makers that are not dependent on gatekeepers. Use your network. Go on LinkedIn and start working your network from a few degrees of separation out, and try to ask for introductions so you can get closer to the decision maker. Find out which people you might already know inside the prospect’s company. Build alliances with people at the company to get introduced to the right people and “work your way up” to reaching the decision maker.

 

If your only chance to talk to a decision maker is to try to talk your way past a gatekeeper, then your chances are slim. But if you can work your way toward the decision maker, by using your relationship building skills and your existing network of contacts, you’ll be more likely to make the sale.

 

Cooking Up Great Sales Leads: Top 10 Ingredients

Every delicious meal begins with a good recipe: without all the ingredients, working in the right order, sequence and in just the right quantities, your dish just doesn’t come out right. Just like cooking in the kitchen, “cooking up” great sales leads requires a list of key ingredients and a consistent process to achieve a successful result.

 

Great chefs know how to add an intangible touch to a dish that is all their own. In the same way, sales lead generation experts know how to draw upon the special nuances and human touch of furthering a conversation, identifying a prospect’s needs, and building relationships.

 

Here are the top ten ingredients necessary for “cooking up” great sales leads:

 

1) Dials: Every sales lead begins by dialing the phone. Aim for a minimum of 20 dials per hour. 20 dials should result in 5-6 conversations (about 5 minutes each) with key decision makers. Keep your time between calls to an absolute minimum, as this is the most wasteful drag on productivity. Every minute you’re not on the phone is costing you money.

 

2) Contact Rate: Try to obtain a 15% – 20% contact rate. This means you must have a strategy for navigating through gatekeepers and screeners to establish talk time with decision makers. Read more here about how to manage gatekeepers on sales lead generation calls.

 

3) Names of Decision Makers: If you don’t know the names and job titles of the decision makers you’ll be calling, your lead generation efforts are flying blind. Make sure to obtain at least 75% of the names and titles of your decision makers before you start dialing the phone. Instead of spending time researching these names, you can purchase this data from a list broker.

 

4) Script or Conversation Outline: Lead generation calls should not be improvised or off-the-cuff; instead, every call needs a certain level of planning so that you are prepared to work through the conversation and guide the prospects in the right direction. Think about what you are going to say to decision makers, anticipate your prospect’s top 5 objections, and then have rebuttals ready.

 

5) Avoid Early Termination: Keep your script opening short and to the point. Prospects don’t like to listen to a lengthy pitch, especially if they don’t know you and haven’t heard from you before. Script shutdown or early termination of calls is the lead generation team’s worst nightmare. If you sound like you are simply reading from a sales script, you will lose credibility and the next sound you will hear is “click” as the prospect hangs up the phone.

 

6) Well-targeted Market: Make sure that the companies on your list are the right size, the right type of companies and are located within your trading area. There is a saying in the lead generation business, “You will be no better than the list.” Know your audience. The more you know about the companies and decision makers that you will be calling, the more successful your lead generation and appointment setting calls are going to be.

 

7) Accurate Data: Make sure your list is current and accurate. Bad phone numbers are the enemy of productivity. If you have a list with a 30% bad number ratio, this means that for every 10 hours you work on this list you really only worked 7 actual hours. Time spent calling bad phone numbers is just as wasteful as time spent not dialing the phone.

 

8) Inbound or Outbound Calls: Create effective leave behind voice mail messages to encourage prospects to call you back, or don’t leave messages at all and reinvest this time in making more calls. Decide which is the best tactic for you, depending on what you’re able to offer to generate calls back, and depending on the capabilities of your lead generation team.

 

9) “Come Up” System. Don’t just prospect for low hanging fruit. Create a database of all different types of sales leads, including lower priority leads, “not interested” responses and prospects who ask to be contacted again at a future date. Use a CRM program to manage your “come up system.” Given enough time and persistence, “not interested” responses can turn into promising sales leads. Your “come up” system should be a field of future opportunities for follow-up and long-term relationship building.

 

10) Close the Loop: Track and trend your “not interested” response data and use it to better understand why these conversations are not producing sales leads. Put this information to good use and implement process improvements. Every good chef is constantly learning, adapting, and finding ways to make new combinations of flavors from the same old ingredients – in the same way, lead generation is often a process of learning as you go along, so you can get better at converting unpromising prospects into high-potential sales leads.

 

Just like preparing a great meal requires a long process of washing, prepping, chopping, seasoning and cooking, B2B lead generation is a long-term process of building relationships, maximizing opportunities and learning as you go along. With these 10 ingredients, your lead generation and appointment setting calls will be more likely to achieve success.

 

 

Top 5 Reasons Why Lead Generation Programs Fail

There are basic component parts to a lead generation program, and one or all of these items can cause your program to fail. To get a lead generation program working effectively all of these components must work together seamlessly. So how do you know when your lead generation program is broken? If you are not producing leads at all this is pretty hard to miss but if it’s not completely broken; things can get a little trickier. If your program needs just repairs then you may be producing leads, but of suspect quality. Or you might be generating quality leads, but just at a trickle.

 

Let’s look at the top 5 reasons why lead generation programs fail and how to fix them;

 

1) The lead generator, you (or perhaps me) the person actively working to generate sales leads is, not surprisingly, a major factor in your generation efforts. Your style, professionalism, attitude, procedures and even the tone of your voice can all affect lead generation. If you think you have a “people problem” that is crashing your program its time to listen in to conversations and or obtain an objective second opinion to make sure your program has the professional sound necessary. Make sure your lead generator doesn’t sound robotic, staged, overly enthusiastic, dull and or sleepy. You are looking for a natural sound that comes off like real one on one communication.

 

2) The contact list is another factor. In essence, your contact list is going to be filled with people who use the sort of products or services you are selling, so it is, in essence, all about not selling ice cubes to Eskimos. If your message is hitting the wrong crowd then you’re wasting your breath. The contact list can be complex. You may have the type of companies correct but they may be too big or small. You may have the right size companies but the SIC codes you chose are not performing well. Time to reboot.

 

3) The program script is your conversation with the sales prospect. It involves the content, marketing, lead qualification and your ability to pull all of these things together in a logical, short and very concise presentation. If you’re a great lead generator and your contact list is spot on, then chances are good that your words are missing the mark. It could be your delivery, the order of your presentation of key points…or maybe the words themselves just aren’t right. There is a loose connection somewhere, and your message just isn’t getting through.

 

4) No contact with decision maker – do you have the name of your decision maker? This is a vital piece of information that can transform your program almost instantly, and all it takes is a little research on the front end. Dialing without a name will produce low contact rates; when you ask “who buys [insert your product here]?” you are telegraphing the gatekeeper that you are a sales person and you do not have a existing relationship with the decision maker. The gatekeeper, who is paid to be protective of his or her employer’s valuable time, is likely to shut you down right there.

 

5) Early termination of your phone call or getting shut down at the beginning of the script. This is the most common reason why lead generation programs crash. This is most likely to occur when you sound like you are staged, forced or reading a script. Take the time to learn your script and practice reciting it until it sounds natural and flows easily. This can also happen because your introduction (where you state who you are, what you do and why you are calling) is way too long. Early termination happens early because you have approx 12 sec in the beginning of your call where the decision maker is deciding whether he or she is going to stay on the line. Think of your introduction as the headline of a news article or ad; you have about one breath’s worth of speech to engage your audience, or you’ve lost them.

 

In any of these scenarios, the problem could be with any (or even all) of the components we have identified. The trick is identifying the weak link (or links) in your program. Once you can do that, fixing the problem usually requires some trial and error. Replace or repair one part in question at a time and then do some experimentation.

 

Top 3 Reasons Why Prospects Are Not Responding To You

Every sales professional has experienced this scenario: you’ve talked on the phone with a prospect, sent follow-up e-mails with additional information, and perhaps even reached the point of preparing a formal sales proposal. The prospect has a definite need and seemed close to being ready to talk about closing a deal and purchasing your solution. Then all of a sudden, the prospect stops responding.

 

Sales people often rack their brains wondering “What did I do wrong?” While sales professionals may be inclined to blame this lack of responsiveness on their own behavior, this silence from the sales prospect is often due to circumstances outside of the sales person’s control.

 

There are many possible reasons why a prospect might stop responding: perhaps a competitor swooped in and won the business, the prospect got overwhelmed by too many follow-up e-mails, they found a cheaper solution, or they lost their budget.

 

It is important to remember that while this prospect may be very important to you, you are probably one of many sales people that are contacting them. With advances in technology, sales decision makers are being overwhelmed by phone calls, e-mails, and other electronic communication.

 

One of the least understood and now most widely used sales follow up tools is email. If you are frustrated by the lack of response from sales e-mails you are sending to your prospect, it might be helpful to step back and take a look at the reasons that they may not be responding.

 

Here are 3 reasons a prospect may “go dark.”

 

1. They don’t have time. In this case it’s definitely not personal – they don’t respond to anyone. This could be because they are overwhelmed with new e-mails and simply cannot weed through the trash in order to ferret out the treasure. They may count on an administrative assistant to read their e-mail and alert them to important communication. They may also be habitual procrastinators who are always planning to get back to their e-mail eventually, but are never getting around to it. Some people are also so busy putting out the day-to-day fires around their workplace that e-mail is constantly pushed to the back burner.

 

2. They prefer face-to-face conversations. In a world that is dominated by instant electronic communication, some prospects prefer to talk the old fashioned way, face-to-face. They may find computers intimidating, frustrating, or impersonal. When making a major purchasing decision, a prospect may want to be able to shake someone’s hand or look them in the eye. While face-to-face interaction is certainly a lot more time consuming, if this is truly the preferred communication style of the purchasing decision maker, you will never hear back from them via e-mail.

 

3. They prefer the phone. When e-mail first became common in workplaces in the early to mid-nineties, many people resisted using it, and still resist today. Especially for higher-ranking executives, some people are still more comfortable using the phone to communicate. If they aren’t habitual e-mail users, they may only respond to the most urgent messages, or possibly not at all.

 

Just remember that there are many potential reasons that a prospect might not respond to your e-mail. It can be tempting to blame yourself or to write the prospect off, but if you dig a little deeper, persistence in following up on these B2B sales leads will pay off.

 

One of the best ways to figure out whether or not a prospect has a different preferred style of communication is to just ask them. If they would prefer that you get in touch by phone, the prospect will probably be happy to let you know.

 

If a prospect is taking a long time to respond or not responding at all, don’t be afraid to reach out and have a conversation with them about the best way to communicate with them. This can be an important part of building the client relationship and improving your processes for successful lead generation and appointment setting.

Top 5 Appointment Setting Closers

Lots of lead generation companies claim to have special expertise in helping companies get bigger sales results from their B2B sales leads and lead generation efforts. Although there are a lot of different lead generation services that could potentially help your company’s sales results, sometimes the simple things make the biggest difference.

 

One way to get better results from your appointment setting calls is to simply re-think your method of closing the call. Are you ready to “Make the Ask” from your appointment setting calls? Here are 5 ways to get it done – clearly, concisely, and not “too clever by half.”

 

5 easy ways to re-think and rejuvenate your appointment setting closers:


1. Be logical
: Don’t just ask for the appointment without offering sound logic as to why you and the decision maker should meet. You don’t want meetings just for the sake of meeting, and neither does your prospect. If you want to take up an hour of the prospect’s time, there needs to be a compelling reason (for the prospect) to do so. If you say, “I would like to set up a meeting so you can learn more about us,” there is not much of a reason there for the prospect to feel excited. Instead, it’s better to zero in on a problem that you can solve for the client. The logic here is clear: if the prospect takes the time to meet with you he may get the solution to a big problem. Always remember that it needs to make sense to the client in order to get that appointment – not only to you.

 

2. Be generous: On every appointment setting call, you need to put a carrot in front of your prospect. Give them some incentive to keep talking with you and to trust you. Your carrot should be in the form of valuable information. Offer to run a free report, review a document for them, research their issue, or get an expert opinion from someone in your network on a problem that the client is facing.

 

3. Do your homework – Have the solution ready: If you are following step one (from above), developing “logic” means also doing your homework. The more you know about the prospect’s business before you start the appointment setting process, the better your chances of getting the appointment. If you are seen as a solutions provider (and not just a “sales person”) prospects will naturally want to meet with you.

 

4. Be flexible: If the prospect wants to do a phone call instead of an on-site meeting, go with the flow. If the prospect wants to meet with you in 30 days instead of this week, book the appointment. If the prospect wants you to talk with one of his managers first, take the meeting and go with the flow. Recognize that you are at the entry point in a sale. Take the meeting and kick the door open, and then you can move on to the next steps.

 

5. Don’t Close the Door: If you ask for the appointment and you get a “no”… don’t close the door. Instead offer to follow up via e-mail with key information that the prospect needs (plan in advance for this possibility). Then make a second attempt to schedule the appointment by using the information you sent in order to re-open the conversation. Many second chance appointments don’t happen because you didn’t put yourself in position to re-open the discussion.

 

When you’re trying to choose between lead management companies, try to find a firm that is focused on more than just “the sale” itself. The best lead generation companies take a comprehensive approach to lead generation services, and can help with every step of the lead generation process, from finding new B2B sales leads, to qualifying business leads, to appointment setting. Sometimes you’ll find that adjusting your appointment setting closers can be an important step to closing more deals.

 

Are you looking for appointment setting companies for new ideas and new energy for your B2B lead generation process? Contact Strategic Sales & Marketing, a “leading light” among lead generation companies. Our team of B2B sales consultants and appointment setters offer comprehensive lead generation services to help clients overcome their B2B lead generation challenges with more efficient appointment setting, better qualified B2B sales leads and bigger sales results. Contact Strategic Sales & Marketing for a free quick quote or a free, no obligation Test Drive of our lead generation services.

 

3 People You Will Meet on a Cold Call

B2B lead generation is all about dealing with objections, clarifying expectations and overcoming initial resistance or confusion about what you are offering to the prospect. Every cold call is an opportunity to learn more about a prospect’s business, build relationships and earn their trust. Even the standard “problems” of cold calling can be used as an opportunity to get closer to a sale.

 

There are many ways to use an initial conversation on B2B lead generation cold calls, even if the person is completely unhelpful, to get what you need from the call and help the prospect’s business as well.

 

Here are 3 unhelpful people you meet on cold calls, and how to help them help you!

 

Mr. “I Am Not the Right Person”
We’ve all been there – you get a phone number for a prospect’s company, you dial them up, only to hear that they are not the “right person” for you to speak with about the topic.

 

Instead of giving up and hanging up, use this moment to create a referral and pick up some key business intelligence. Here are a few ideas for what you can say:

  • Ask for a referral: Say to the person on the phone, “Can you refer me to the correct person to talk to?” Be sure to use the word “refer” so you can use this person’s name to navigate through
    gatekeepers and screeners. You can also ask, “What is his/her job title? Do you have a direct dial number? Can you transfer me to his/her line?”
  • Get business intelligence: Even if the person on the phone is not the “right person,” they might have some good knowledge about how the company works and how they might need a solution like the one you offer. Ask them, “Do you know what system you are
    currently using to ________? Are you doing that function in house or do you outsource that?”

 

You don’t need to always have the decision maker on the line to get some of your important questions answered. Even the “wrong person” can help equip you with information that will be helpful when you finally get the “right person” on the phone.

 

Mr. “We do that In-house or We Outsource That.”
This response is very predictable because chances are, any company you call is already using a solution similar to what you offer, whether it’s on an in-house basis or by outsourcing the function to a service provider. If a decision maker says “we do that in-house” or “we outsource that,” they are simply trying to end the call. The challenge for you as a sales professional is to keep the conversation going.

 

Be ready with a quick “go-to” follow-up response, such as, “Oh, OK. Does your in-house team also handle the (OTHER ASPECT OF THE SOLUTION)?” Or say, “What are some challenges that you’re facing with your current solution/arrangement?” Keep the conversation moving and deflect this objection by having your next qualifier ready.

 

If you are shut down often by the “we already do that in-house/outsourced” objection, your chances of generating B2B sales leads are slim to none. The decision maker is stating the obvious. Of course they already do it in-house. Your job is to dig deeper and find out if their current arrangement is broken, too expensive, inefficient or frustrating to the prospect in some way. Identify the points of pain, and you will uncover a new level of sales leads.

 

Mr. “We Just Bought a New System”
This prospect is not in the market for what you sell, so you are not going to get a sale directly from this one. However, before you hang up, if you play your cards right there is a business intelligence bonanza awaiting you.

 

Ask this person:

  • “What system did you buy?”
  • “How are things going with the new system?”
  • “Why did you decide to buy that particular system?”

 

Your goal here is not to sell the customer on a new system – they just bought one, and even if things are not going well, chances are they’re not going to invest in a whole new system so soon. However, you need to find out more about their motivations for buying the system.

 

Was it a low-cost “Band-Aid” solution? Are they just trying to patch up a temporary problem? If so, perhaps they’d be willing to hear from you again in another six months. But you need to ask these questions to find this out – you can’t just assume they’re not interested and will never be interested, and hang up the phone. Stay on the call a few minutes longer, and keep the conversation going.

 

On the flip side, if they bought an expensive solution from your competitor, it’s very important to find out if they are happy with the purchase. Often we find, as part of our lead generation calls, that unhappy decision makers have some degree of remorse for the purchases they made. Play therapist and show some empathy.

 

The purpose of all of this is to use this company’s experience as a “reverse testimonial” when you are going up against the competition for your next deal. If you can accumulate several of these reverse testimonials then you can offer to put your new potential client in touch with a list of clients who are unhappy with your competitor’s solution.

 

Even if they don’t pick up the phone and call them, a list of names and phone numbers of unhappy clients is a very powerful sales tool and may be just what you need to tip the deal your way.

 

Looking for appointment setting companies to help manage your sales leads? Talk to Strategic Sales & Marketing for comprehensive lead management services to help you through the B2B lead generation process. Our industry-leading B2B sales consultants and appointment setters know how to cultivate, qualify and close on complex B2B sales leads in a variety of industries. We can help you find more sales leads, better qualify your sales leads, conduct more efficient appointment setting, and improve conversion rates to overcome your B2B lead generation challenges and turn B2B sales leads into bigger sales results.

 

Top 5 Excuses Why Your New Business Appointment Was a “No Show”.

When developing your lead generation processes, you may need more than fresh cold calling techniques or a mailing list of prospects; you need insights into “how” and “why” the sales process works like it does, and fresh ideas for how to make it better.

 

When you’re dealing with lead generation for B2B sales leads, you need to keep in mind that the sales cycle can be a long process with the possibility of ups and downs along the way, even during the early stages of initial processes and qualifying B2B sales leads.

 

The appointment setting process often leads to frustration when prospects don’t show up. Sales people know to expect a certain number of “no shows” and cancellations, but if your no show rate is higher than average, perhaps you should consider the reasons why.

 

Here are a few insights into why prospects fail to appear for your new business appointments.

 

“We have reviewed your website and we have no need for your services.” If you have advanced to this point in your lead generation process, chances are you are “surprised” to hear this response. Your first conversation with this prospect most likely uncovered some pain issues that you can help solve. In this scenario the above response is often “code” for “I haven’t been to your website yet and haven’t even reviewed the information you e-mailed to me a few days ago.” Your prospect may have an interest in your services but they haven’t done their homework. Chances are they are behind on many other deadlines and their excuse is just like having to explain to your 6th grade teacher why you haven’t done your homework. Instead it’s easier to blow off the appointment.

How to handle: Stay patient. Keep in mind that the pain issues that you picked up in your first conversations are still accurate. Your solutions to these issues are also still valid. It’s time to move on to a new level of contact with the company. For example, if you have previously been talking with a director level decision maker, begin targeting a new contact at the VP level.

 

“My boss called me in to a meeting. Sorry I was unavailable.” Actually your contact was not in the boss’s office…he or she was frantically preparing a sales report that needed to be submitted to senior management several days ago. The report shows sales are flat for the month. Panic! Finally the VP (your contact’s boss) sent an e-mail that he needs the report by 10 a.m. Your appointment was at 9 a.m.

How to handle: Stay calm. Don’t jump to the conclusion that the prospect’s behavior is an indication that they are not interested. Instead, give the prospect some space and try to reschedule. This prospect might still have a strong interest (and a strong sense of “pain” showing them that they need your product). Let the prospect save face – give them a chance to choose the next appointment date.

 

“I talked with my boss about your services and we have no interest at this time.” Well, that might sound believable but you haven’t even discussed your solution with this person. This is the famous “good guy/bad guy” excuse. The prospect is saying, “I can’t take the blame for the fact that my boss doesn’t share my enthusiasm for your services. He’s the bad guy…and I did you a favor by taking your services to him and you should be very thankful for that.”

How to handle: Shore up your relationship with the immediate prospect, regardless of what your contact says the the boss thinks. Play along and empathize with how frustrating that must be for your contact. Even if the prospect mentioned your solution to their boss, you know your solutions were not discussed in detail. After all that was what you were going to do on your appointment. Don’t forget, you haven’t had a chance to present your capabilities in any detail yet. In a very low-key manner, discuss this with your contact and re-invite the prospect to spend 15 – 20 minutes to look at your solution.

 

“This is not something we are going to do this year….touch base with us next budget cycle.” This is code for: “If we had your solution in place, I would probably have the time to listen to what you have to say. In the meantime I am treading water and I don’t want to ask my boss for anything new as I already can’t get done with everything I need to do.”

How to handle: This is a classic appointment shutdown. Regroup and follow the procedures in section 1 above.  You need to find a level of contact within the company that is willing to get on the solutions side of the company’s problems. It’s important to identify these types of decision makers who know their existing systems are dysfunctional, even though they have no time to invest in solutions. Move on to a higher level of contact.

 

No call…no return call…no apology. This might sound like bad news, but sometimes “no news is good news.” The “silent no-shows” are often the easiest appointments to reschedule. The reason is that you haven’t heard the prospect say they were “not interested.”

How to handle: The key to getting this appointment rescheduled is to get the prospect on the phone live. When rescheduling these appointments don’t leave messages or send e-mails. Instead, simply dial on the lead until you get the prospect live and proceed with the assumption that the prospect is willing to reschedule.

 

How many of these “no show excuses” sound familiar to you? And how can you adjust your activities accordingly? Instead of spending time and money trying to generate more business leads, perhaps you could take a closer look at how you manage your “no shows” from existing sales leads. By following up, listening to the subtext of what your prospects are saying to you, and staying focused on finding the right decision makers to speak with at the prospect’s organization, there are many ways to turn “no shows” into sales.

 

Are you looking for lead generation companies who will go beyond the “same old” to help your sales improve? Talk to Strategic Sales & Marketing and see how we can help you with your B2B lead generation process. Strategic Sales & Marketing is a “leading light” among lead generation companies, with an industry-leading team of B2B sales consultants and appointment setters offering comprehensive lead generation services. We work with our clients to help them find solutions for their B2B lead generation challenges, helping them achieve more efficient appointment setting, better qualified B2B sales leads and bigger sales results. Contact Strategic Sales & Marketing for a free quick quote or a free, no obligation Test Drive of our lead generation services.

 

Confirming Sales Appointments: Are You Asking For The Cancellation?

“Hi, this is Bob Jones. We have an appointment tomorrow at 10 a.m. Would you like to cancel?”

 

It sounds ridiculous, right? No one would intentionally call a prospect as part of an appointment setting call and set themselves up for a cancellation. However, if you take a closer look at your appointment setting process, if you aren’t careful when calling to confirm your sales appointments, you might as well be asking for a cancellation.

 

Remember, your prospects are busier than ever before, running here and there putting out fires. If you have gotten far enough in your appointment setting process to schedule a face-to-face meeting, then chances are good that the prospect is interested enough to want to listen. Chances are you’ve done a lot of work qualifying and sorting your business leads to get this far.

 

However, once the day of the meeting rolls around, there may likely be something more urgent that has risen for the prospect. Calling to confirm might inadvertently remind the decision maker of how busy he/she is, and give them an easy excuse to back out of the meeting. But at the same time, as part of your appointment setting follow-up, you want to make sure the prospect is expecting you, and the appointment hasn’t slipped his mind.

 

One easy way around this is to place your confirmation call after-hours the day before the meeting and leave your reminder on voice mail. This way, your prospect gets the message first thing in the morning and will be expecting you.

 

Could the prospect still cancel? Sure. But if he hasn’t gotten proactive and called to cancel before the day of the meeting, then chances are good that he won’t do it the day of.

 

As you’ve surely seen during the appointment setting process, the prospect has overcome a lot of resistance to find time to meet with you. If you suddenly ask for a phone conference instead, he might think you aren’t that interested in talking to him seriously, and he could decide that YOU’RE not worth HIS time.

 

Even if circumstances (changes in travel plans, weather, etc.) dictate that you can’t meet face-to-face for some reason, suggest video conferencing, rather than a simple phone call. Video conferencing is the next best thing to actually being in the room with the prospect, and you can communicate with your prospects from virtually anywhere.

 

Take care not to accidentally undermine your appointment setting. After so much time qualifying sales leads, building relationships and inching your way to the prospect’s door, you don’t want to make the mistake of giving your prospect an invitation to cancel.

 

The appointment setting process can be fraught with pitfalls, and even if your sales team is full of veteran appointment setters we all can learn a thing or two from some outside experts. If you’re ready to boost the appointment setting performance of your sales team, get access to better qualified B2B sales leads, and enhance the effectiveness of your overall B2B lead generation program, contact Strategic Sales & Marketing for a quick quote or a free, no obligation Test Drive of our appointment setting services.

 

5 Signs Your Sales Lead Pipeline Needs A Makeover

When clients come to us for lead generation services, they often think they need one thing (“more sales leads!”) but typically they need something in addition – a better process for qualifying their existing sales leads, or a better way of working to maximize their long-range business leads.

 

The B2B sales leads pipeline is a unique ecosystem all its own – you need to know how to manage your business leads, conduct the most efficient appointment setting, and put solid processes in place to get the most out of all of your leads.

 

When developing your lead generation process, you need to take a holistic approach to your sales pipeline. It’s not just a simple matter of finding “more sales leads” to dump in the top of the sales funnel. Instead, you often need to reassess how you’re handling and managing sales leads at every step of the way.

 

Here are 5 signs that your sales lead pipeline needs a makeover:

 

1.  You don’t have any new business appointments on your calendar.

When you are closing deals and setting up new clients, it can often be difficult to also “fit in” new business prospecting. Due to the high level of rejection that occurs during cold calling many sales people have a love hate relationship with conducting prospecting calls – so when they’re busy and “business is good,” it’s easy to put prospecting on the back burner. Look back at your calendar and call records over the last 3-4 weeks and check to see how much time you have actually been spending (in the course of an average day and average week) on new business development. Chances are you need to adjust your time allocation. Even when you’re swamped with business, you have to keep feeding the pipeline with new lead generation activities.

 

2.  You just lost a large client and you don’t have any new clients ready to replace them.

These types of surprises can be avoided by keeping a monthly running total of how many new sales leads you have and what is going to close and when. You can’t always predict when you are going to lose a client, but you can always forecast (and control to a reasonable extent) how many new business leads you have in your pipeline. Don’t get complacent or be lulled to sleep by the “gravy train” of a big client who is covering your sales goals. Staying hungry for new sales leads is the best way to ensure that you’ll never “go hungry.”

 

3.  Proposals that were likely to close are stalling or dead.

Lead generation should not only be about finding new sales leads, but doing a better job of converting the sales leads that are already in your pipeline. The crucial point to remember is that B2B sales leads are like sharks – they have to keep moving forward, or they die. Any business leads in your pipeline should be advancing toward closing the deal. If not, it’s important to reassess your opportunities and downgrade them as soon as they show signs of weakness. Qualifying leads is an ongoing process, but you need to relentlessly manage your pipeline so that your team of appointment setters isn’t wasting time on low-quality prospects. There might always be some sales leads that fall short of your projections, but if you suddenly find yourself with many once-promising sales opportunities falling into a “sales purgatory,” you need to shift your energies to replace those deals before you lose any existing clients. Part of your lead generation needs to be to assess, re-evaluate and re-focus on existing B2B sales leads.

 

4.  The deals that you are closing are too small.

There is nothing wrong with writing smaller deals especially if the account has long range potential. But the problem with smaller deals is that they take time to grow…time that you may not have. Too many small deals can clog up your pipeline and create havoc with your sales forecasts. And many sales people will tell you that the smaller accounts often require just as much time, care and energy as the larger accounts. It’s important to check your lead sources and do some research to understand why so many small deals are developing. Good lead generation companies will help you analyze the data and make recommendations on how to boost the average size of your deals, leading to more profitable accounts.

 

5.   Your most reliable lead sources are stuck in low gear.

A common problem we encounter is that many companies have great B2B sales leads in the pipeline, but not enough of them. This puts a lot of pressure on you to close a high percentage of sales leads off a short list of pipeline prospects. If pickings are slim in your favorite market, you might want to open your lead generation efforts to vertical markets that you haven’t touched in a while. Overworking a segment of business that has been producing sales for you may be actually creating “over marketing” and stagnating your pipeline development.

 

Are you looking for lead generation companies to deliver fresh insights on your B2B lead generation process? Talk to Strategic Sales & Marketing, a “leading light” among lead generation companies. Our team of experienced appointment setters and consultants offer lead generation services to help our clients with B2B lead generation challenges, leading to more efficient appointment setting, better qualified B2B sales leads and bigger sales results. Contact Strategic Sales & Marketing for a free quick quote or a free, no obligation Test Drive of our lead generation services.