5 Most Effective Ways to Get Decision Makers to Call You Back

Part of the lead generation process involves leaving voice mails for decision makers, and then playing the “waiting game” to see if and when they’ll call you back. Unfortunately, many lead generation calls fail to maximize the potential of voice mail. Every time your prospects hear your voice mail messages, that is a chance to catch the decision makers in a quiet moment when they are listening and are receptive to what you have to say. But too many sales reps make the mistake of leaving hasty, poorly thought out voice mail messages that quickly get deleted.


Leaving better voice messages can be the difference between closing more sales and missing out on opportunities. Here are the five most effective ways to get decision makers to call you back – by leaving better voice mail messages:


1. Get to the point: Don’t waste time on pleasantries. Instead, cut to the chase. You don’t need to leave a lengthy voice mail with your full job title and company name. Just say, “Hi Joe, this is John Smith. My phone number is 555-123-4567.”


2. Say the name of the person who referred you: If you got referred to this decision maker by one of their colleagues, say so upfront. Make it clear that someone the decision maker trusts has put you in touch with them – this is immensely helpful in building credibility and preventing the listener from pressing “Delete” on your voice mail. Right after your quick introduction, simply state the name of the reference by saying, “Mary Jones said that I should contact you.”


3. Show that you’re prepared: Make it clear to the decision maker that this is more than a rapidly dialed cold call – show that you’ve done your research, that you know their industry and that you’re familiar with the nature of their challenges. Demonstrate that you’ve helped other similar companies to overcome the same types of difficulties. For example, a line you might use could be, “I’ve been talking with a lot of other companies in your area/industry, and people have been telling me that they’re dealing with a lot of challenges related to _______________.”


4. Make it about “them,” not about “you:” Don’t be self-serving. Don’t talk all about how great your company is and how awesome your solutions are. Instead of shamelessly self-promoting, work to show an interest in the prospect and their needs. It’s better to say “less” on a voice mail message than to say too much about yourself and your company.


5. Stick to the script: Usually when making lead generation calls, it’s best not to sound too scripted, but leaving a voice mail message is an exception to this rule. Work from a script (or at least a simple outline) when leaving voice mails for decision makers. Using a script will help you maintain discipline, focus and brevity. If you only have a few seconds to grab the prospect’s interest and hold their attention long enough to get a call back, you need to make sure you can quickly mention your most important key points, say what you need to say, and leave a message before you get cut off.


Instead of treating voice mail like a “missed call” or simply mumbling your name and phone number, remind your sales reps that every voice mail is an opportunity to get through to a prospect. By putting some more planning and focus into your sales team’s voice mail messages, you might be surprised at how many decision makers start calling you.


Top 5 Closing Questions To Help You Smoke Out Who Is Going Buy

Is your sales team seeing certain sales opportunities that keep showing up in the sales forecast month after month, but without ever moving closer to closing a deal? These sales leads that linger for months are drifting along in “sales purgatory,” neither alive nor dead. To get past the frustration of sales purgatory and start closing more deals, you need to get your sales team to start asking what I call, “Sales Smoke Out Questions” to generate some action and infuse some urgency into the sales process.


By asking sales smoke out questions, you can get a clearer idea of where you stand in the prospect’s mind, identify the timetable for the prospect to make a buying decision, find out how your organization stands up to the competition, and prompt your prospects to level with you about whether (or when) they’re going to move forward in the sales process.


Here are the top 5 “sales smoke out” questions to help move your sales process forward:


1.  Are you considering other vendors? You don’t have to pretend that you’re the only company contacting the prospect. Go ahead and ask if they are talking to your competitors. If so, fine – that means you can try to dig deeper and uncover some business intelligence by asking follow-up questions like, “What do you think about the other competitors and their offerings?” If the prospect says that they are not considering other vendors, this could be a sign that they are not really serious about buying. (Or, if you’re really lucky, it means that you’re the first company to get to them.)


2. Which of the other vendors you are talking to would you rank the highest? Don’t wait too long to find out where you stand. If one of your competitors has already convinced the prospect on the merits of their solution, it helps to know that before you waste a lot of time. If you’re a close second, it helps to know so you can strategize about how to get to #1. Or even if the prospect doesn’t have a clearly ordered list, asking these follow-up questions gives you a chance to gain business intelligence and find out what concerns you need to alleviate to build more credibility with the prospect. It might be that the prospect has been misinformed or needs to be further educated about what your solution can do. Your competitors might be making promises that they can’t keep. The best way to find out where you stand is to ask – and then respond accordingly.


3. On a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being highly likely), how likely are you to select our solution? Many sales people are reluctant to pin down a prospect with such a specific question as this, but the prospect’s answer gives you all the information you need as to how serious they are about making a deal.


4. What kind of time line are you on to make a decision, and when will you be implementing? This question helps clarify the prospect’s timetable, and it also gives your sales team an opportunity to offer helpful information to build credibility with the prospect. For example, if the prospect says that they want to purchase in April and then implement in July, your sales team needs to think about whether this is a realistic implementation timeframe for your solution. This is a chance to help guide the prospect and manage expectations. Don’t make promises you can’t keep – instead, show the prospect that you are a conscientious professional who has the prospect’s best interests at heart. It may be that one of your competitors is over-promising about the speed of implementation, which can ultimately be more costly and harmful to the prospect’s business.


5. Do you think we are going to be able ink our deal this month? One of the unpleasant side effects of “sales purgatory” is that it skews your organization’s sales forecasting, as deals stay clogged up in the pipeline for month after month. Part of this process of asking sales smoke out questions involves increasing your sales team’s forecasting accuracy. If your sales team feels uncomfortable putting prospects on the spot with this question, modify the question slightly by saying, “Our management team is trying to improve our forecasting and they want to know whether we can expect to move forward with you on this business.”


Sales purgatory doesn’t have to last forever. By asking pointed “sales smoke out” questions (while being prepared to address any confusion or misconceptions along the way), your sales team can take “half-dead” sales leads and breathe new life into them.



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.


Cold Calling: Warming Up Your Sales Lead Process

Warming Up the Cold Call: Choose Your First Sales Qualification Question Carefully


Imagine you walk into a store you’ve never been in before. As soon as set foot inside the door, you’re approached by someone wearing a name tag and a huge, insincere smile.


“Welcome to THE STORE. Will you be paying by cash or credit?”


Startled, you manage to stammer “I-I’m just looking, thanks.”


“Great! Want me to hold onto your credit card for you while you shop?”


You’d figure out really quickly what matters most to people at THE STORE, wouldn’t you? It’s not about you; it’s all about the money – their money. Overly aggressive introductions like these show that the sales person only wants to close the sale.


Obviously this is an extreme example, but many sales people make similar mistakes when opening conversations and qualifying sales leads during appointment setting calls.


Instead of doing the equivalent of blatantly asking for the customer’s credit card, your first qualification question should be the least intrusive question that you ask. Why? Your relationship with the decision maker is brand new. You don’t know this decision maker yet and they don’t know you. You don’t want to assume too much or sound too eager or appear pushy. Instead you should use a softer approach that lets you be consultative and helpful.


Asking a question like “Are you in the market for a new system?” without first developing a relationship is going to be perceived as an as pushy.  You don’t want to come across as someone who’s only after the sale, only interested in your commission. These types of hard-sell tactics are the hallmark of fly by night operations, inexperienced sales people, or untrustworthy types that good customers won’t want to buy from.


When you’re in the process of appointment setting and qualifying business leads, you will increase your chances of getting qualification questions answered if you slow down your process. Don’t be in too big of a hurry to “make The Ask.” Instead, build a relationship first.


Here are a few examples of good opening questions that you can use when qualifying sales leads:


  • I noticed you are a Microsoft Solutions Partner…how helpful has that been to help you open doors?
  • I noticed that you are using bar-coding in your warehouse; how has that been working out?
  • I read recently that you just won Toyota Manufacturing as a new account. Congratulations. That must be huge! (Okay, that’s not a question…but it does show that you took the time to find out about their business, AND it sets up the questions about how they plan on handling the influx of new work.)


The processes of lead generation, appointment setting and qualifying sales leads are not the same as sales. Too many sales people make the mistake of chasing the sale and trying to close the deal far too early in the process – when they should be focused on appointment setting instead.


Lead generation and appointment setting is a matter of figuring out whether or not a prospect is the right fit for your product or service. They’re not all going to buy from you. They’re not all going to meet with you – and if you have a good appointment setting program, you know that you don’t WANT to meet with all of them because it will take up valuable time that could be devoted to other prospects.


Even though you’re a sales person, asking for the sale upfront is not the way to do successful appointment setting calls. Instead, when you’re focused on qualifying sales leads and doing appointment setting, you need to leave your “sales hat” at the door. Remember you’re trying to find out whether or not there is a way you can help this person. In order to know that, that person has to tell you what sort of help he or she needs. And before he or she tells you that, they have to trust you first.


Are you looking for fresh insights on your appointment setting process? Talk to Strategic Sales & Marketing. Our team of experienced appointment setters help our clients with B2B lead generation and appointment setting services, creating 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 appointment setting services.


Are Too Many Sales Proposals Killing Your Pipeline of Sales Leads?

Getting to the proposal stage of a sale is usually reason to celebrate. After all, the metrics of proposal writing are simple: the more proposals you write, the more sales you are going to close. But many sales people get carried away with producing sales proposals in an assembly line fashion in an effort to keep a full pipeline of business leads. Most sales managers support this kind of high-intensity sales proposal writing, because sales managers and reps thrive on a busy pipeline of sales leads.


The problem with writing too many sales proposals is that proposal writing and rewriting can be counterproductive, especially if too many of your proposals are ending up in the great sales “purgatory” where business leads get stalled between “no” and ”yes.” Simply churning out sales proposals without a larger sense of strategy and discipline in your B2B lead generation is likely to leave you with a full pipeline of sales leads that never get resolved.


Sales teams view writing sales proposals as a form of high-energy lead generation. But too often, in the act of writing proposals, they do not make the necessary effort to customize the proposal to the client’s needs. Without a sense of strategy and listening to the client’s specific needs, your sales team is going to be pitching a pre-packaged system that is not what the client wants or needs.


Don’t confuse “energy” and “action” with “results.” Your sales team might spend all day writing sales proposals, only to close a tiny percentage of deals. This is inefficient and a huge missed opportunity. Instead of using a “machine gun” approach – firing out sales proposals as fast as possible, in every direction – you need to take a “rifle” approach by selecting a specific target, planning your effort and taking your time.


Sales people are often impatient for action, but here is why a bit of patience is so important: even before you get to the point of trying to do appointment setting, you’ve already invested so much time qualifying the sales leads and ushering them through the sales funnel. So why are you trying for a fast deal?


Without careful planning and a clear understanding of the prospect’s needs, the sales proposal is going to need to be resubmitted again and again. (If the prospect doesn’t lose patience and call off the conversation altogether.) Unless your sales people stop cranking out proposals and start asking the right questions to qualify their sales leads, they’re going to find themselves spending all of their time on endless rewriting and resubmitting of proposals.


Excessive proposal writing (and rewriting) is the last refuge of a sales person who doesn’t want to do the hard work of qualifying sales leads and delving deeper into the client’s needs. It’s easier to just keep writing proposals in an effort to “look busy.”


Here’s what happens in a case like this:

  • The client said no to the original proposal.
  • Instead of taking the time to ask questions, listen to the client’s unspoken needs, and flush out the real objection, the sales person gets impatient (“But I can TASTE the sale! It’s that close!”)
  • Fueled by impatience, the sales person starts rewriting the proposal, throwing more systems, services and products at the client in the hopes that something would stick this time.
  • In the process of trying desperately to reel in the sale, you’re simply pushing the client further away. The sales person might be thinking, “They’re close to making a buying decision…but I guess they just don’t get it.” Meanwhile, the client is thinking, “This sales person just doesn’t understand our needs. I’m going to go talk to one of their competitors instead.”


Why do proposals end up in sales purgatory? Too often, it’s lack of effective follow through, and no clear commitment being requested from the prospect.


If your sales team is simply sending proposals (by e-mail, fax or mail) to the decision maker in the hope that the prospect is going to call back and buy, you’re going to be disappointed. When was the last time a client immediately called back and agreed to buy, based simply on a few words on paper? And no matter how persuasive your proposal, it isn’t going to be able to answer any questions that weren’t anticipated when it was written.


Never send a sales proposal without first conducting an appointment setting call to arrange a time to discuss it in detail. Without a sales person attached to the proposal, nothing will happen. If you simply put a written proposal in front of a decision maker, most of the time he will simply look at your price and overlook the important details of what you are really offering.


The best selling moments arise from a sales person, in person, presenting the proposal. Instead of a dead piece of paper or numbers on a screen in front of the prospect, the proposal becomes the centerpiece of a face -to-face exchange between you. Instead of passive information, the proposal becomes a dynamic process between two people.


Instead of a “yes or no,” (and it’s all too easy to get a “no” when you simply send a proposal with no additional context), discussing the proposal in person creates a dynamic of “What-if and why-not?” Most deals are closed at these types of specific, focused meetings, not by hoping for sudden results from “deals in the pipeline.” If you rely too much on written proposals and regularly miss these “live” selling events, your sales cycle will be twice as long as it has to be…if it doesn’t break down entirely.


Do you want to take your pipeline of sales leads from “purgatory” to “paradise?” Strategic Sales & Marketing is one of the industry’s most experienced lead generation companies, specializing in helping companies improve their sales processes with sophisticated lead generation services and rigorous lead management. Our services range from appointment setters to sales coaching to B2B marketing consulting.


Appointment Setting: How to deal with “no show” sales leads

Few things are more frustrating for a sales person than encountering “no show” sales leads. When you go through your daily schedule, putting out fires and dealing with client emergencies and making every effort to be on time to your appointments with sales leads – only to find out that the prospect has had to cancel, that can be disappointing, to say the least.


However, even more important than the fact that your sales leads are missing their meetings is the way in which you react. Too often, sales people get discouraged by “no show” sales leads and come to the conclusion that the prospect was an unqualified lead, or not really interested, or is feeling premature “buyer’s remorse” for agreeing to the appointment setting in the first place. You might start to wonder, is your entire system of B2B lead generation and qualifying business leads broken?


The truth is, it’s best not to overreact to “no show” sales leads. Don’t read too much into one missed meeting with a prospect. Instead of assuming that the prospect isn’t interested and the deal is hopeless, just contact the prospect, get started with a second attempt at appointment setting, and move on.


The fact is that a very small percentage of these “no show” sales leads ARE unqualified and that is just a reality of lead generation. Some prospects have a problem saying “no” and therefore they get caught up in the prospecting “net” even though they aren’t interested. Dealing with occasional “no show” sales leads is not a sign that your lead generation process is broken. Every B2B lead generation effort that produces great business leads is also going to produce a certain percentage of “unqualified” sales leads, and as long as your “unqualified” sales leads are less than 10% of total sales leads (this percentage may be higher, depending on your industry), you should accept this as a cost of doing business and move on to the next thing on your schedule.


You don’t want to calibrate your lead generation process so tightly that it weeds out too many sales leads. It is better to have to deal with a few unqualified prospects rather than miss even one qualified prospect. It’s OK if a few unqualified sales leads slip through the “filter” of your sales funnel, as long as you have a good enough volume of high quality business leads that make it through along with them.


But aside from the unqualified sales leads, who are the other “no show” business leads on your schedule? What does it mean when you’ve had positive initial calls, the prospect has been receptive to appointment setting requests, the prospect is relating significant pain (that your solution can solve) and has proven to have motivation to make a buying decision..and then the prospect doesn’t show up for a meeting?


Often this is nothing more significant than a case of your sales leads being too busy to meet with you. Keep in mind that even as busy as you are, you’re not the only one with fires to put out. Chances are, your highly qualified “no show” sales leads are dealing with urgent problems, and unfortunately, in the grand scheme of things, you are probably not as important to the prospect as the prospect is to you.


Here are a few things to think about to put “no show” sales leads in perspective:


1) You’re a sales person, and so to the decision maker, you are probably lowest on the priority list. Who is ahead of you? The decision maker’s clients (fire), boss (fire), wife (fire), kids (fire), co-workers (fires galore) and a host of little brush fires that burn continuously in the decision maker’s work day.


2) The customer is always right, and the seller always waits. The unspoken rule of customer service is that if you are selling me something, then you have to cater to my schedule: as the buyer, I have the right to make you wait, stand you up, not return your phone calls and otherwise ignore you. After all, I’m busy trying to keep my world from burning down around me. Sure this is frustrating, but don’t assume that the prospect isn’t interested.


3) If you need to reschedule and go back to the appointment setting phase of the sales process, do it (without complaints). And if the prospect is a “no show” again, reschedule again. Go with the flow.


At best, when you arrive for a sales meeting with a prospect, you are a welcome break from his long day of putting out fires. At worst, you are just another fire – another problem to be solved. Even if you are trying to sell the ultimate tool to help him fight fires, if he agrees, he’s got to find the funding—maybe even fight to get approval—to close the deal to purchase your product or service.


In the end, as with so much else in the sales profession, when it comes to “no show” business leads, all you can control is your own attitude. Make sure you are helping to relieve your prospect’s burdens, not adding to them. Don’t assume the worst about the client’s intentions. Most of all, don’t give up. Sometimes even the most persistently hard-to-reach “no show” sales leads will come through for you in the end.


Ready to “put out some fires” in your B2B lead generation process? Talk to Strategic Sales & Marketing to get actionable advice and high-quality sales leads from one of the industry’s most respected lead generation companies. We specialize in lead generation and lead management for complex B2B sales challenges, with sophisticated appointment setting services ranging from appointment setters to sales coaching to B2B marketing consulting.


Top 3 Ways to Improve your Lead Generation through the Cold Call Process

In lead generation, we have always been taught to go high into the organization and pitch the decision maker. Sales success is all about a process of prospecting and lead generation, building a network of relationships, eventually getting in front of the right person, appointment setting, and then delivering a winning sales proposition to meet the prospect’s needs.


All of these classic tenets of appointment setting still hold true, but the process of getting to that key decision maker has grown more complex as technology and work habits of key decision makers have changed.


In her latest book, “Snap Selling”, Jill Konrath writes about today’s decision makers: “It’s a crazy life, even a fragile life, where things such as traffic jams, computer problems, and sick kids can put you over the edge……..the last thing they want to do is add one more item to their already overflowing to-do lists. Throw in an uncertain economy, and things get even crazier for these burnt-out people who are now expected to do even more with fewer resources.”


With this in mind, traditional cold calling procedures need a significant “makeover.” It’s no longer good enough to look up “purchasing or procurement managers” and hope to make a swift entry in the sales cycle. Cold calling in today’s sales environment requires creative management of relationships and the building of thoughtful approaches to make contact with key decision makers.


Here are three ways to re-engineer your cold call methodology to meet the demands of today’s complex and crazed business environments:


1.  Target lower level managers and directors before going to the C or V levels. Top-ranking executives typically have gatekeepers or screeners working for them as administrative assistants or managers. By the time you are ready to reach these C and/or V level key decision makers you need to turn the temperature of your call from cold to warm. You do this by planning your cold calling strategy lower on the client company’s org chart. Lay the groundwork by introducing yourself first to the lower level administration staff and managers who are on the front lines of the organization.


2.  When cold calling, your first call should be a “business intelligence” call, not a “sales” call. With every cold call, social networking needs to be your first task. Ask about the customer’s needs, and listen to what they have to say. Make sure that the call is about “them,” not about “you.” Lay the groundwork by introducing yourself to administrative gatekeepers and lower level managers who are on the front lines of the organization. It’s critical that you turn these people into coaches and ask for their help. These calls use a different approach and are not truly “sales” calls…that comes later.  It’s also important that you adjust the sound of your voice on the call, as these social networking calls should be perceived as simply someone trying navigate the complexities of the company’s organizational chart. Ditch the overly scripted lines and make sure you sound like a real person. Imagine that you’re a customer of the client, and that you’re calling them because you need their help. Ask for help in reaching the correct person. Don’t make it an adversarial or “transaction-based” or “hard-sell” conversation; instead, make the call a casual chat, and focus on explaining the value that you are offering to the prospect’s company. Keep the focus on relationship-building, connection and mutual benefit – you’re trying to help them, so how about they help you? Use the call to get the lay of the land and find out if the person can direct you to the next person to call; if they’re not the right person for you to meet with, then perhaps they can tell you who is?


3.  Use these referrals in voice mail messages. As you go through the cold calling process, develop a short list of helpful people within the organization who have sounded receptive to what you have to offer. Ask them for names and numbers of other people within the company who might be interested to hear from you. This process can be time-consuming, but this process of building referrals is a form of high-quality lead generation. Every conversation is bringing you closer to getting in front of an ultimate decision maker. Use name dropping to warm up your next call as gatekeepers are more welcoming when they hear familiar names.  As you work your way up the org chart, use the names and titles of the people you’ve already chatted with and incorporate voice mail into your process to increase your call back rates. “Hi, this is Joe Smith with ABC Solutions. I was on the phone with Bob Jones in Logistics earlier today, and told me that you might be able to help me…” Every time you can drop a name of someone within the company who is known to the person you’re calling, you are warming up your cold call.

Cold calling has always been the most time-consuming, difficult and occasionally frustrating aspect of lead generation. The best sales professionals take their cold calling to an elevated level, beyond the “by the script” style of telemarketing, and use cold calling as a way to build relationships and deliver value, even before a sale is made.

4 Reasons why Lead Generation Scripts Show Results!

Sales lead scripts provide lead generation consistency and qualification control.

If you’ve ever been to the theater and witnessed a truly engaging performance, though you may not realize it, you know everything you need to know about how to make a sales lead generation script work for you. In a successful play, the actors have all memorized every word they say. There is nothing spontaneous in the dialogue; it is all planned out far in advance. However, the performance: the emotion, the interaction, the nuance are all real; it all occurs in the moment. Here are a few ways this applies to your script:

1. The sales lead script provides a structure for the process. – You know the questions you are going to ask and (if it’s a good script) how you will answer the prospect’s questions.

2. The sales lead script provides security – If you memorize your script, you know you will ask the right  qualification questions and won’t forget to cover something important.

3. The sales lead script provides consistency – Everybody on the team is qualifying sales leads the same way, making it easy to rank leads consistently across the organization.

4. The sales lead script provides continuity – Anyone can pick up the sales lead in the next phase and know what has been covered and where to start the next conversation.

Now, if you’ve ever been to the theater and witnessed a performance that was left wanting, then you understand the pitfalls of using a lead generation script. Here we’ll cover the danger zones to watch out for;

1. The sales lead script is not a crutch – If you let the script serve as an excuse and let yourself get lazy, then your conversation comes off sounding staged. You are not the script, and the script is not the process, it is simply a tool to make the process easier and you more effective

2. The sales lead script is not a conversation – Unlike acting partners, your sales prospect does not have a script. It is vital to “stay in the moment,” as they say on the stage, and listen closely to the prospect. It may require jumping ahead in your script or back-pedaling to clarify a point for the prospect. If you keep plodding along in spite of what your prospect is saying you come off as disingenuous and will fail to connect.

3. The lead generation script is not “my way.” – Experienced reps may already have a successful method. The script will have a learning curve that could cause a drop in successes resulting in a loss of morale. Recovery from this slump may be overcome with time, but it might also turn into a long-standing issue that will need to be dealt with.

By incorporating these points into your scripting process, you will be sure to see an increase in qualified leads!  It’s been working for our clients for over 20 years.

The 5 Worst Cold Call Openers

Every carpenter needs to have a set of tools – hammers, saws, screwdrivers, etc. Good tools will serve you well in all sorts of situations, but over time, even the best tools will wear down and need to be replaced.


Just like carpenters, sales people have their own set of “tools” – the cold call openers that we use to introduce ourselves, create conversations, and start building relationships with new customers and prospects that lead to appointment setting, follow-up calls, referrals and eventually closing the sale.


A good carpenter knows when to replace his worn-out tools – if you have a screwdriver whose head is stripped to the point of uselessness and a tape measure that doesn’t retract, you know that it’s time to buy new tools. Unfortunately, many sales people keep using the same worn-out tools – the same ineffective cold call openers – in their telemarketing and appointment setting efforts.


Every cold call needs to serve as a conversation starter for lead generation, ultimately leading to appointment setting. If your opening lines are starting to sound “worn-out,” it’s time to take a fresh look at your telemarketing and appointment setting tool box and see what you can replace.


Here are the 5 Worst Cold Call Openers. If you have any of these in your appointment setting toolbox, it’s time to throw them out and replace them with new telemarketing tools!


1. How are you today?

2. I am not selling anything.

3. Do you have a few minutes?

4. I know you’re busy but…

5. You don’t know me but…


So, what’s wrong with them?


“How are you today” only works once you know the person, but if you haven’t introduced yourself, the prospect will be wondering who you are. It sounds insincere and insubstantial. You can’t build rapport or establish credibility or conduct appointment setting or start a sales relationship based on a casual, throw-away line like “How are you today?”


“I am not selling anything” is a classic telemarketing line that everyone knows is a lie. Sure, you may not be selling anything right at the moment, but you are selling the prospect on why they should trust you and why they should agree to an appointment setting with you. Prospects know that that anyone who says “I am not selling anything” will in fact eventually try to sell them something. Saying “I am not selling anything” is the fastest way to set off your prospect’s defense mechanisms – they immediately will become suspicious of your motives and start raising objections before you even have a chance to speak your piece. You won’t be very successful at appointment setting if you set off your prospect’s “sales pitch alarm” at the first line of the conversation.


“Do you have a few minutes?” might be okay once you have established a strong relationship with the customer and you’ve proven to them that you have their best interests at heart. But don’t let this be the first thing you say to someone on a telemarketing or appointment setting cold call.


Why? Because the people you’re calling are busy. And no busy person has “a few minutes.” (And beware of the people who do have a few minutes – they’re likely to waste your time and are unlikely to be serious decision makers who will reward your efforts at appointment setting.)


The same is true with “I know you’re busy but…” By reminding the prospect that he/she is “busy,” you are also reminding the prospect that you’re interrupting them with a cold call. You have now started the call on a defensive, intrusive note, making it unlikely to lead to a successful appointment setting.


“You don’t know me but…” is simply stating the obvious, and it undermines your credibility before you’ve even started appointment setting. You might as well say “I’m a salesperson doing telemarketing, and I plan on selling you something.”


If these are the opening lines you’re using for your appointment setting and telemarketing cold calls, it’s time to develop new ones. Your goal should be to not sound insincere, staged or robotic. Don’t remind people that they don’t know you; instead, show them why they should want to get to know you – and why they should welcome an invitation for appointment setting.


Don’t treat the call like a high-stakes, low-success-rate telemarketing cold call. Instead, treat it as a natural “real life” appointment setting conversation with someone you are trying to help. For example:


“Dave, this is Michael Noonan from ABC Manufacturing. We provide medical device manufacturers with plastic injection molding services. I noticed on your website that you manufacture devices for the respirator industry, is that right?”


Why is this a solid opening for an appointment setting or telemarketing cold call?


  • It’s direct and honest, which is refreshing for the prospect to hear after being bombarded with dozens of “I know you’re busy but…” telemarketing calls.
  • It states clearly who you are in a way that is approachable. It turns you into a fact-finder instead of a salesperson. This makes it more likely that the prospect will respond favorably to your appointment setting offer.
  • It gives the prospect something to say “Yes” to. With this opening, the prospect’s next sentence is likely to be “Yes, we do that,” instead of “I don’t have a lot of time right now, what’s this about?” Great cold calls start with positivity and common ground instead of defensiveness and mistrust.
  • It positions you as a peer instead of yet another salesperson doing telemarketing. You sound more like someone in an industry calling someone else in the same industry to discuss something and ask for an appointment setting, rather than trying to zing them with a clever opening line.


Our list of the 5 Worst Cold Call Openers might have been useful telemarketing sales tools at some point in the past, but those tools have long since become worn out and need to be replaced. Start with a new approach to appointment setting, with honesty, directness and a spirit of helpfulness, and your cold calls will achieve new heights of success.

Strategic Sales & Marketing is a lead generation and appointment setting firm founded in 1989, with a proven track record of helping clients in multiple industries achieve breakthrough results in creating high-quality business leads. Our consultants have completed over 50 millions sales presentations and generated over 7 million leads for our clients. Whether your sales team needs to improve their contact rates, streamline their appointment setting programs, or get better at closing the deal, the experts at Strategic Sales & Marketing can help take your lead generation program to the next level of success.