Today’s post is by Skip Miller, author of Outbounding: Win New Customers with Outbound Sales and End Your Dependence on Inbound Leads. Outbounding equips salespeople with the knowledge, training, and road-tested sales tactics to raise the success rate of their outbound sales. He is also the president of M3 Learning.
In a strong economy, customers are open to buying. Social media and marketing lead generation efforts are a main source of leads to sales teams. Further, inbound sales efforts are responsible for 40 to 100% of a company’s sales lead generation.
But as early adopters dry up and the low-hanging fruit starts to disappear, marketing and social media aren’t yielding the same results, driving companies to increase their outbound or prospecting efforts to meet increasing quotas.
Outbound selling can be intimidating even to the most senior rep who hasn’t had to make a cold call in a long time. However, with the right skills, processes, and strategy, leaders can help transform their teams into confident outbound sellers.
Engage senior stakeholders early
The buyer’s perspective in the sales process changed drastically in 2020. Without in-person meetings and trade shows, all initial discovery is now conducted online or at virtual events. Sales leaders must adjust their sales process to accommodate this change. It is imperative that your reps are getting a C-level executive on sales calls, even if the executive only joins for 15 minutes. Getting the senior stakeholder involved will help your rep tailor the rest of the sales journey to the prospect’s strategic business goals. While remote selling makes it easier to get an executive on the phone, the rep still needs to make sure the message is about maximizing value to meet the prospect’s needs.
Adopt virtual outbound selling best practices
Your salespeople need to learn the best practices used by top outbound sales reps, who are using video conferencing solutions to engage buyers on virtual sales calls. They send an agenda in advance to get feedback from the prospect, and then tailor the agenda before the call based on the prospect’s goals and needs. They screen share for no more than 10 minutes at a time, and use breakout rooms and drawing boards to encourage conversation. These approaches make for a much more compelling and engaging video call.
Coach for the right skills
Transitioning to a fully remote sales process has also changed the skills required for success. In this new environment, it’s not enough to focus energy exclusively on getting the deal over the finish line. While sales calls are shorter, the contract process is longer, and deals are at risk to slow down toward the end of the process. To combat this, reps should be prospecting more, communicating with prospects frequently, and involving the right stakeholders. Sales leaders should focus on remote coaching and helping reps prioritize the right activities. There is a difference between important tasks and urgent tasks. Both need to happen, but reps need to focus on ensuring the important tasks – like prospecting – don’t get neglected when urgent ones arise.
You need to change. Change is hard. Listen to your customers. Invest in your best.