Posted by Dan McCann

an interview with Steve Staccato

In part one of this series, we discussed the challenge of assuring your prospecting and sales efforts are worth your prospect’s time – and your rep’s time.  As follow-up to that post, our little “super hero” prospector, Steve Staccato, met with a CEO to discuss why a simple solution like “just ask” has so many challenges.

STEVE:  Welcome Ms./Mr. CEO.  Thanks for meeting to discuss our first post on TIME IS MONEY. SPEND WISELY, highlighting the fact that the best way to determine if your solutions are worth the prospect’s money is to make sure your solutions are worth their time.  In that post, we said the best and almost always-overlooked solution is to just ask.  We also discussed that the challenge most sales people face is how to ask, what to ask, when to ask, who to ask and how often to ask.  The goal of today’s discussion is to benchmark how your team is doing.

STEVE:  HOW do your sales people ask a prospect for their time?

CEO: Our sales team is delivering emails to prospects asking to meet at a specific day and time to discuss how our solutions can help solve their business problems, and those emails all include a request for referral.

STEVE: We love it when your requests are specific about when to meet, along with the reason for the call – to share information about how your company can add value to their business – you’re on track there with best practices. Our study of 1.8 million prospecting repetitions also shows that demonstrating you have a sincere interest by calling and leaving voicemails in addition to emailing dramatically increases effectiveness. In the search for the key decision maker(s), we have found that asking additional people above and around the prospect (who may or may not be your key decision maker), including the administrative assistants, enhances the probability of getting them to become more familiar with your company, your products, and increases the amount of tribal intelligence your sales people will pick up along the way. Handled correctly, those efforts will point you directly or indirectly to your key players.

STEVE:   Does your team have a solid and consistent handle on WHAT they should be asking?

CEO: I agree with your feedback to how we ask as long as we have the right message to ask. I do not want to waste the sales rep’s time.  What to ask is a tough one.  Asking for their time is an easy answer, but the sales leaders in our company suggested their folks are either asking if they are interested in learning more or asking if they have project or budget already in place.  This way we know ahead of time if it is even worth our time.

STEVE: Savvy sales leaders must have their sales resources working on the right opportunities — the ones that are most worth their time.  That and making sure a prospect is willing to take the time to understand what we have to offer makes WHAT we ask the trickiest question.

For that reason, we will devote our next post to the subject of messaging.  In the meantime, if your sales reps talk about how your solution relates to a prospect’s role and areas of influence, and what it could mean to them, the prospect will be more likely to be interested in learning more.

CEO: Makes sense. I look forward to hearing more in your next post on messaging.

STEVE: Good.  I think you’ll like it.  WHEN do you think is the best time for your sales reps to ask?

CEO: That is an easy one – immediately after we receive a lead and as quickly as possible.

STEVE: Calling an inbound lead as soon as possible is important.  Excitement begins to wane within 2 minutes of expressing interest. However, to make sure your outreach is effective, it is best to spend at least 2 minutes and NO MORE than 5 researching the lead and the company.  Then, make your call.

STEVE:  Now, Mr. CEO, one of the most confusing challenges is WHO to ask. Who are your sales reps asking

CEO:  Our team reaches out directly to the lead that came in as soon as possible, but based on how you asked the question, there may be more appropriate people to call.  Is that true?

STEVE: You read me correctly – never just call a lead.  If they represent your ideal client profile and a decision maker title then ask that lead along with the people above and next to them. If they represent your ideal client profile, but are not a decision maker, your reps should start at the top of the company and ask the decision maker titles, along with the original lead.

If they don’t represent your ideal client profile, build a process to connect with that lead and learn more about their interest.  It may just open new markets for you and protects your brand image by reaching out to your leads.

By orchestrating your outreach in this way, the company’s informal communications will actually help you reach the right decision maker(s).

STEVE:  Now, I have one final question.  HOW often are your reps asking prospects for their time?

CEO: They are calling prospects everyday – at least I hope they are.  If you are asking about a single prospect, I believe they email them and if they do not get a response, they will email them a second time and then simply go on to the next lead. To tell the truth, though, I’m not exactly sure what process they follow today and that worries me.

STEVE:  Our study of 1.8 million prospecting repetitions revealed that asking every three days is effectively persistent without being too pushy. They should stop asking after five attempts, reaching out above, around and to the key player each time. Additionally, we agree with your concern.  If you are trying to increase revenue by building a more predictable sales pipeline, you need to know exactly what activities are happening – and, if best practices are being followed. Your sales reps also need to know if they are doing things correctly, know where to begin and how to prioritize their efforts.

I hope this blog was worth your time. Either way, yes or NO, let me know. I value your thoughts and would love to discuss sales prospecting.

Watch for that next post, and remember, TIME IS MONEY.  SPEND WISELY.

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