Prospecting Feed

Four Tips to Get More from Your Inbound and Outbound Leads

SPlogoToday’s post is by Selling Power editors and reflects insight from a recent webinar, “Turning Leads into Opportunities.” The webinar featured hosts Kristina McMillan, director of sales development at Five9, and Erich Bohren, vice president of business development at Conversica. For more information, listen to the webinar recording at 

Outbound prospecting has developed a lot in the past several years. In part, we can thank smarter sales and marketing tools for that. 

  • Marketing automation helps us better prioritize our marketing efforts.
  • LinkedIn helps us find and reach prospects we couldn’t otherwise.
  • Sales email technologies help us hyper-customize messages at scale and give us information about which messages are most impactful.
  • Dialer technologies (for example, Five9) help us make our calling efforts more efficient.

Inbound prospecting has also developed by leaps and bounds.

  • Adwords and SEO (search engine optimization) make it far easier for many companies to generate inbound leads.
  • Content marketing assets (white papers, video, blog posts, etc.) are often highly effective ways to create brand awareness, and capture and nurture leads.

These advances have introduced great advantages – while also creating some challenges. 

One of the biggest issues is that prospects are now overloaded with information. Kristina McMillan, director of sales development at Five9, heads up an eight-person team of sales-development reps. In a recent Selling Power webinar, “Turning Leads into Opportunities,” she noted: “Emails to prospects are increasingly viewed as SPAM and immediately deleted. I don’t answer my phone anymore and sometimes that’s even when it’s a vendor [of mine] calling. In 2007 it took four calls to reach a prospect and now that’s jumped to 11. It’s hard to stand out from the noise.” 

This can make it more difficult for marketing and sales to break through and engage. Consider the following statistics and research.

  • Only 27 percent of leads receive a timely call or information from a rep (Conversica research).
  • Reps may spend 80 percent of their time prospecting and only 20 percent closing (AA-ISP Mind Capture Group research).
  • Only 2 percent of cold calls lead to an appointment (Leap Job research).

If you want to cut through the noise and get more from your prospecting efforts, follow these four expert tips.  

Tip #1: Define your ideal customer profile.

If you want reps to be successful, help them “get into the head” of the person they’re trying to target, says Kim. Once reps know the ideal customer they’re trying to target, they can better understand how to solve that customer’s problems and provide value. 

Tip #2: Define your target accounts. 

The goal here is to teach your reps how to identify the best accounts (aka, the ones that will fit best with your value proposition). Note that you don’t need a comprehensive laundry list of all the accounts you’re trying to target. This is just to give you a starting point, and you should expect the list to evolve over time. 

Once your reps know which accounts to target, you can help them navigate conversations successfully. Use scripts wisely; a dogmatic attachment to a scripted conversation can actually do more harm than good. But proper education for reps will help them map out a conversation that will help them discover – on their own – whether a specific account is worth pursuing. 

Tip #3: Define clear rules of engagement around qualification.

A qualified lead definition is a must. Marketing, sales, and any other relevant team must have consensus on what constitutes a qualified lead. If you don’t have that groundwork laid, your reps won’t understand where their role ends and where the sales reps’ role should start. 

Tip #4: Explore technology that can help you nurture inbound leads in a cost-effective way.

Inbound marketing efforts tend to generate lots of leads; however, many of those leads will never be real buyers. Conversica is a good example of a solution that helps you nurture those leads in an automated fashion. The company’s artificial intelligence “assistant” is able to conduct a natural-sounding, two-way email conversation with a real-life buyer. When the prospect agrees to a phone call, the artificial intelligence assistant then hands over a qualified lead to sales.

In the webinar, Erich Bohren, vice president of business development at Conversica, explained:“Our automated virtual assistant does the grunt work of what you would normally expect from an inbound sales development rep – all via email. The result is that more opportunities are created and more reps are able to hit their quotas.” For its B2B clients, Conversica gets a 35 percent to 50 percent response rate. Compare that to mass-market email programs, which tend to generate 3 percent to 5 percent response rates.  

In today’s world of information overload, it’s imperative for sales and marketing teams to find ways to stand out from the crowd. Invest in best practices and technology tools that can streamline your processes, save your reps time, and help them focus on the right opportunities.

For more information, listen to the full recording of the webinar at


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Where the Decision Makers Are

Today's post is by Dave Kurlan, founder and CEO of Objective Management Group Inc. and Kurlan & Associates, and author of Baseline Selling: How to Become a Sales Superstar by Using What You Already Know About the Game of Baseball.


Recently, I spoke to an audience made up of CEOs and their respective boards. When I speak to such groups, I tell them what they should expect from their sales leaders relative to all of the changes, trends, and best practices that have had an impact on sales organizations.

Interestingly, many are completely unaware of the following:

  1. The buyer’s journey and what it looks like.
  2. Sales managers and their role as coach.
  3. The migration of outside sales to inside.
  4. That longer sales cycles and lower win rates aren’t only issues for them.
  5. The myriad tools that help make salespeople and sales organizations more efficient.
  6. The social-selling and inbound movements.
  7. What a formal sales process should look like.
  8. How selling has changed.

It occurred to me that, while all of these CEOs and board members are on LinkedIn, they don’t actually use LinkedIn; they simply accept invitations to connect and mistakenly believe that’s all there is.

It’s clear to me that there are two groups of businesses, executives, sales leaders, and salespeople:

  • Those who are online, making connections, sharing, reading, commenting, and posting.
  • Those who aren’t. 

I don’t know which is the larger group, but clearly, based on my newly discovered surprise, those who aren’t engaged online belong to a much, much bigger group than I thought. With so much information being shared online—and only online—how do salespeople connect to the huge population of decision makers who aren’t online to read and absorb all that is being shared?

We have a tool for that! Do you remember the telephone? It still works—even better than ever—and it works from anywhere and at anytime. This group, the one that isn’t engaged online, continues to engage on the phone. All you have to do is call.


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Sales Reps, Stop Being a "Demo Monkey"

"I hate being a demo monkey!"

Have you ever heard your sales reps say something like this?

It can be frustrating for reps to deliver hundreds of demos and end up with nothing to show for their time and energy. That's why DemoChimp is taking a new approach to helping salespeople turn their presentations into closed deals by making demos more engaging and personalized for each prospect.

"We intelligently personalize the experience," says DemoChimp CEO Garin Hess. "When the prospect goes through your demo, we dynamically stitch together different video elements to deliver an experience that fits their needs rather than going through a straight demo the prospects might not be interested in."

Watch the video above to see how you can start automating your demos and cut down on your demo frustration.

How to Ditch the Generic Sales Pitch in 60 Minutes

Will Spendlove 1Today's guest post is by Will Spendlove, vice president of product marketing at InsideView Inc.



Which kind of sales pitch would a prospect prefer to hear, a personalized message or a generic sales pitch? These days, prospects can get generic information about companies and offerings online. If you can’t talk with customers about their personal business needs, you’re going to have a tough time engaging them.

The good news is that salespeople can tap social networks to discover all kinds of relevant information, leading to great conversations with prospects, which in turn can lead to closed deals. So how do you use social networks to ditch the generic pitch in 60 minutes? Let’s start the timer…


Pick leads on which you can find a good level of base data to qualify them, such as company name, industry, size, etc. Social selling won’t work on a random lead on which you have only a name and email address. This is a targeted technique, so you’ll need enough background to start your online search and know that you’re researching the correct person and company.


Online, look up the name of your lead plus information about his or her company. A search engine is fine; a business-data service like Hoover’s can also be useful.


Find the blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn streams for the target company. Add the target company’s name as part of the search string, such as “manufacturing equipment Maytag.”

Find news that starts a conversation or backs up your pitch – or both. A company missing its earnings might not be directly relevant to what you’re selling, but helping the company drive more sales or speed production can be a point that’s reinforced with such news.


Find Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn profiles for your lead. Look for any information that might be useful. Maybe his or her last few tweets mentioned working long hours (which might indicate a stalled project or new product), or the LinkedIn profile shows a recent promotion (which might indicate company growth).

Also search for any social connections, professional or personal, that you might have in common with the lead. This can help you get a warm introduction. Even if you don’t know anyone in common, you might find an unexpected link (for example, that you attended the same college).


Triangulate the information -- background, company, and personal/professional -- to brainstorm your entry points. You’re looking for a personalized hook that’ll get the lead interested immediately, such as,

“Hi, Sally, I’m with Vandelay Industries, and I think we can help with your upcoming product launch in Europe. We’ve worked with Bob Smith, who you managed in your last role, and he loves our product…”

If you’re not seeing obvious hooks, work with your manager to brainstorm ideas.


Practice your pitch, then call your lead and demonstrate that you know his or her business and pain points. The fact that you’ve done your homework will automatically convey your respect for this person’s time.

There you have it -- the 60-minute approach to social selling. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want to go back to the old ways of generating leads, because this method really works. If you sell a complex product with a long sales cycle, you might be able to get by doing this work manually. For high-volume sellers, however, it’s wise to invest in a solution such as InsideView that pulls together social information and online data and makes it available in a central location.

Three Steps to Connect with the Right Prospects Online

WillSpendloveToday's post is by Will Spendlove, vice president of product marketing at InsideView



One of the most important parts of prospecting is finding the right person at the right time. It starts with identifying the key persona you’re targeting, then understanding the correct title and job responsibilities for each target company, looking for any connections you might have in that account, and then actually looking for an introduction with a real human. It’s a daunting process, to say the least.

A huge lifesaver has been LinkedIn. Generally, people use LinkedIn to manage their professional connections, and successful sales and marketing teams use it to prospect; however, building an entire connection strategy around LinkedIn just isn’t enough. At InsideView, we have figured out a way to reduce the time spent finding people and built a model to help sales and marketing teams find the most prospects. We use three key steps in our “finding” strategy:

1. Use a multipronged strategy to build a virtual connections pool.

When I talk to sales teams, I usually ask them what technology or system they use to find unknown contacts. The immediate answer is LinkedIn, which is a well-known and trusted strategy. LinkedIn is the world’s premier connections platform, but using LinkedIn, however, isn’t enough. There are many contacts who don’t use LinkedIn. In some cases, entire verticals are light on LinkedIn, including medical and government industries.

It’s important, therefore, to ensure that you have a multipronged connection strategy. Connection prongs can include LinkedIn but should also include social networks such as Facebook and Google+. There are many connections that exist on Facebook and Google+ that don’t exist in LinkedIn. By building a strategy using multiple social communities, your chances of meeting the right person are much higher.

You should also engage your email and telephone contact lists. There are often people you’ve engaged over the years but with whom haven’t recently connected. Make sure you are always keeping a CSV-file version of your email and telephone contact lists, backed up and available for your use. By including all social and email contact lists, you can build your own virtual connections pool. This pool ensures that you aren’t missing any key contacts you’ve engaged recently or in the past.

2. Engage your entire sales and marketing teams.

“You don’t know what you don’t know” – this adage rings true in a connections strategy. Right now, there are dozens of people at your company who have connections you want, but how are you going to know where they are? By encouraging all members of your whole team to share their network with each other, you can have many more opportunities to find and build relationships.

The easiest way to share connections among your teams is through a private connections cloud. These clouds allow sales and marketing teams to upload their contacts into a private space that’s available to only your individual organization. Details such as phone number and email address are suppressed to maintain privacy, but the connection details are made available. This way, you can request an introduction to a prospect directly from your team members.

3. Get out there and make new connections.

Using social tools and networks to your advantage may seem obvious, but BEING a good connection is also key to establishing yourself as someone with whom people should do business. Here are some key ways to build your social prowess:

  • Use Twitter daily. This may seem odd to those who aren’t Twitter aficionados, but those who are often look at people’s Twitter statistics (followers, posts) to see if the Twitter users are truly social. Three easy ways to begin to engage in Twitter: 1) follow key influencers in your industry, 2) use scheduling technologies such as Buffer to help create a regular cadence in posting, and 3) respond to the Tweets you like.
  • Make your Facebook/Google+ profiles public and reflect your best self. Many people feel that their Facebook page is personal, but these days, if you don’t have your profile at least searchable, people may think you’re hiding something.
  • Keep your LinkedIn profile current.
  • Use multiple social tools (Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, etc.) so you are easily found.

So go ahead and start finding those prospects. You’ll realize it’s easier than you thought – and maybe most of your competitors haven’t figured that out yet.