One of the most common questions we are asked by our clients is: "When is the best time for our sales staff to make that outbound call?" There are many opinions in this area ranging from:
"We require all of our salespeople to make 30 outbound calls per day"
"We don't want to bother anyone, so we rarely follow-up with an outbound call."
We don't subscribe to the old fashioned practice of "dialing for dollars" and could never figure out how someone determined 30 calls per day is the correct number. Why not 25, or 50? We do agree that "cold-calling" has become very disruptive in the industry, but not following-up with interested visitors can be a missed opportunity.
We believe the best time to make that outbound call is when it appears someone is searching for something, whether it is by website visits, downloads, email opens, click-throughs, webinar attendance or several other activities. Why? Because based on an individual's activity, there is most likely some type of interest in the product or solution you provide.
You're calling them to help them find what they are looking for and potentially provide them with additional information.
The Inbound Sales Process
Having a simple inbound sales process that both Sales and Marketing agrees on is the first step. Marketing wants Sales to take the qualified leads they have worked on tirelessly to develop seriously. Sales wants leads from Marketing that have shown real interest and not a waste of their time.
So what is a simple process to follow?
Step 1: Determine and Agree on Activity Level
Make it easy to determine when your salespeople should make that outbound call. Come to an agreement on what level of activity should trigger an outbound call from a salesperson. For example, many solution providers are doing some type of email marketing campaign or blogging and do not have the means to track website page visits. When you see a contact open an email multiple times and/or click on a link to your home page or download some material, that can be your trigger. This varies depending on the amount of content you offer and the number of contacts you are reaching out to.
Step 2: Do Your Homework
Before Sales makes that outbound call, take a few minutes to learn about their company. The last thing you want to do is ask them basic information about their company. If you do connect with someone who is interested in learning more about potential solutions to solve a business problem, they will appreciate that you have taken the time to learn more about their organization before calling. There are various ways to learn more about the company you are speaking with - like visiting their website or reviewing subscription-based data, which can provide you with detailed financial information.
Step 3: Don't Force the Sale
If you do connect with someone, let them know you noticed they were visiting your website or downloaded some material and simply ask them how you can help. Don't assume they are gathering information to make a final decision on a product or service this week. Maybe they are only researching potential solutions or companies that provide solutions like yours. Don't try and schedule a demo, presentation, conference call or some other activity. Focus on how you can help them. If it turns out there is interest and a need, they will ask you what the next step is for them to learn more.
Step 4: Document Your Results
When you connect with someone, take 90 seconds to write down how the conversation went. What are the next steps? Is it worth continuing to pursue this lead? Hopefully you have a CRM system to enter this information into and not a spreadsheet that is difficult to maintain. If you speak with someone and need to reach back out to them at a later time, having a brief summary of your previous conversation will save both parties time. You can quickly review the prior conversation with your contact and move into the conversation on where they are today.
Step 5: Rinse and Repeat
Will you get someone on the phone on your first try? Probably not, in fact it was recently reported that it takes 8 - 12 calls to connect with someone. Many salespeople take it personally if a contact doesn't return their call or take their call after numerous attempts. In our experience, we have learned to give people the benefit of the doubt. Your contact may be just coming back from vacation or getting ready to leave. Maybe they are covering for someone on vacation or scrambling to put out a fire with a customer. Odds are you're not the only salesperson calling them as well.
There is no perfect process or silver bullet to determine when the best time is to make that outbound call. The process varies by how much and what type of information you can collect on your leads. What is important is having a process that both sales and marketing agree on and following it.
Put yourself in your prospect's shoes. Would you want someone constantly calling you desperately trying to schedule a demo or presentation for a solution you don't know much about or someone calling offering their assistance to help you?
Interested in learning more? Click on the button below to download our free eBook "Understanding The Insurance Buying Cycle."