We hear salespeople say that they’ve “got to go make some calls.” What goes into making these calls, though? To whom should you reach out? Where can you find that phone number to call? It’s not like a prospective customer was born into your CRM. Even if his or her information was there before you joined the company, someone added it there.
In business-to-business (B2B) sales, there are a number of steps that precede picking up the phone to make a pitch. In fact, the actual phone call is just the final step in a long, organized process. Here’s what you’ll need to do to prep for that call.
1. Create target profiles. If you, as a sales rep, got on the phone with Andrew Mason more than a year ago, you’d be over the moon. He was the CEO of Groupon, leader of a billion-dollar company. If you got on the phone with him today, it would be a different story – not quite the same as what you’d targeted more than a year ago. The person you are calling obviously needs to be part of a company that is in your target. How do you define this? Before you even start looking for a phone number, you’ll need to build a target-account profile (or even two or three profiles) to pinpoint the companies that are the best fit as customers. These profiles should be based on a number of factors, including industry, revenue, company size, and location. There’s no point in making a phone call if your target doesn’t fit your customer profile.
2. Find target accounts. This is grunt work, as are many of these steps. You have to pore through relevant industry journals, Twitter feeds, and blogs. To go really deep, you might scour lists of exhibitors and sponsors at relevant conferences or find annual “top 100” lists of companies in certain verticals. Making that cold-call pitch is going to be pretty difficult if you don’t have a sense of the target’s industry, competitors, or needs.
3. Home in on target titles. What titles would have interest and/or purchasing power within your target accounts? Look over your current customer base and figure out who championed your product or service, and compare that to who made the final decision. Let’s say you have a personal or preexisting professional relationship that got you in a target account’s door. When you had that first meeting, to whom did your acquaintance first introduce you? That’s typically one of the top titles to search for.
4. Find contact information and enter it into your CRM. More grunt work, my friend. While there are some practices around it, this step will take up the most time in this process. Once you’ve found the contact, you have to mass import it into your CRM.
5. Send a mass email to these individual prospects to find the best contact. Wait – you’re not going to do that? Time to click on a “Come to Jesus” link.
6. Manage responses and target opens. People are going to respond to your email with interest, a question, a referral, or a request to be removed from your list – or a million other responses. You have to get back to these people and try to get them, or the person they referred, to a qualification call. Then you have to update relevant fields in your CRM. After that, it’s time to track opens. Our general rule is that if recipients open your email more than three times, you should follow up with a call, which, in turn, leads to the final step.
7. Make THE CALL. Six steps before you get on the phone (four if you’re not mass emailing) and even before you actually pick up the phone, you should find out the best times of the day/week to make those cold calls.
As you can see, there are a lot of steps that go into “making some calls.” So the question is, as a salesperson, are you wasting your time and company’s money by doing every element of this process yourself? Shouldn’t you be focusing on the high-touch, honestly more interesting aspects of the process (which are clearly 1, 3, 6, and 7)?
Steps 1 and 3 need to happen only once. So in a way, “making some calls” is eventually just that. The call is when the pitch is made, the qualification completed, and the sale predicted, but there is always a process that gets you there. That process needs to be professional and fine-tuned. What it doesn’t need to be is to be on your plate. Most of your precall process should be done by sales support.