Today's guest blog post is by Paul Alves, chief executive officer and cofounder of AG Salesworks.
When I was a rookie sales guy, I didn't put much stock in creating a business plan. My motto was, "Give me a list and a phone, and I'll make it happen." Guess what? It worked; I did make it happen. But what I learned several years later is that I could have made more happen with less work, if I had only taken the time to plan.
As a salesperson, you are running your own business. Your support can range from no support at all to a finely tuned marketing machine. Either way, it is up to you to succeed. Failure is not an option.
Every successful campaign starts with a plan, which should have two major areas of focus: database development and a proactive, outbound teleprospecting/email plan.
Build Your Database
The first step is to create a quality database. Think quality over quantity. While it is tempting to create as large a data base as possible in hopes that just the sheer numbers will produce prospects, this is only true to an extent. Yes, you need lots of prospects, but if they are not a great fit, they will only dilute your focus on the best opportunities.
Scrub Your Database
As you work through the process of building and scrubbing your database, think about whether or not your prospects look like your ideal customer. Do they look like the last several closed deals? Build a database in your CRM consisting of quality prospects that you know are a fit for your products or services, and be diligent about scrubbing and adding to it every day. This is the pool from which you will find prospects to fuel your pipeline.
Develop a Teleprospecting/Email Strategy
Now you are ready to create a well-planned, consistent, proactive, outbound teleprospecting/email plan to ensure success.
Think of your prospects as a network of professionals who you can help. Reach out to them with a phone call, and if you don't catch them directly, leave a voicemail followed up by an email introducing yourself and your company. Explain to them why you believe they should take a few minutes to speak with you. You might try a message like this:
- "Hi Mr/Mrs. Prospect, my name is Paul Alves, calling from AG Salesworks. We specialize in identifying and delivering high-value sales opportunities to technology firms. After researching your company, I realized that we have had specific success in your space, helping companies like 'X,' 'Y,' and 'Z' grow their pipelines by two to three times in three to six months. I would be happy to share some of what we have been seeing in the market and determine if we might be able to help you, as well. Do you have five to ten minutes to connect over the phone this week or next?"
Take the time to research your prospect's business online prior to reaching out. Leverage social-media information that you can find on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. When you call, be brief, and provide specific examples as to how you have helped similar companies. Give them a compelling reason to speak with you, not a fluffy marketing pitch. These people get calls every day, and if you don't sound like a peer who can add value, they will not take the time to speak with you. You have to stand out, and if you don't, then you're just white noise like all the rest.
If you have a marketing team to help you, use it. Collaborate with marketing staff; let them know what messages resonate and which ones fall on deaf ears. Always fine-tune your message for each industry segment and job function. Don't use one boilerplate message on every call. Customize, individualize, and optimize your calls. Engage interested prospects, and remove those who are not ready to buy, but always keep in mind that it is your job to add value on every call. Don't be afraid to drop prospects into the nurturing bucket and let an automated marketing process take care of them.
Build your database, reach out to your prospect universe consistently with a value add message, set a goal to complete an x-amount of quality conversations per day as appropriate for your business, and hit that conversation goal every day. Executing on your plan will turn your target rich pipeline into dollars.