Creating a powerful call list
The key: Research
Happens all the time: The sales manager comes in fuming because leads aren’t filling your company’s pipeline. Your teleprospecting team blames the lack of leads on the quality of your list. Your sales manager and your marketing manager fight it out in management meetings, and the final result is . . . status quo. As a teleprospecting professional, wouldn’t you like to break this frustrating cycle?
As a lover of the phone, I know that a lot of good money is left on the table because of one essential corner that is constantly cut: research.
I know, I know. Your sales manager doesn’t want to think research is necessary. He or she wants to see you on the phone. We’re taught from day one that if we’re not making X amount of calls a day, we’re falling behind in our work. That pressure is what keeps us in a robo-dialing mode, with less than stellar success. Believe me, even five minutes of research will improve your database of prospective clients much more than five more calls of “No thanks.”
Here are some ways you’re probably naturally doing research without even knowing it:
- You pick up the phone! – Yep, even a “No thanks,” can give you great information, if you call with a purpose.
- You talk with colleagues and friends – industry “gossip” is still information worth knowing and checking into.
- You listen to your manager—each time he or she sets a goal, talks about your pipeline health or calls you aside to correct a dial-style, you’re learning more about what you’re shooting for. Research!
And here are ways to improve your research and list-building skills:
- Focus. The best way to improve your list and calling results starts with one very important basic: focus. Whether you’re dialing in your car, or trying to make sales calls with the radio on at your desk; when you’re eating lunch while you connect with prospects or thinking about running the kids to soccer practice after work today, you’re not being focused. Get in the moment and remember that this dial, this conversation, might be the one that brings you that million-dollar lead. Treat it like that, and you may be surprised at how much more valuable your list becomes. You’ll be listening “clearer” and taking notes that help build a valuable lead. Put those notes in your contact management system and the whole company will benefit with a stronger profile on your list.
- Pre-Call Research. This is an absolute key to strengthening your list. Don’t just rely on that spreadsheet generated by marketing and begin to dial down. Really look at the list. What’s the market in general? What’s the goal of this call campaign? Where did the list come from?
Now dive in again. Break the list into daily manageable amounts of names. Let’s say that number for you is twenty-five. Go through the top twenty-five names on your list and look up their websites. Once on the site, look for the management team, the board of directors, the mission statement, and for any information where their business messaging crosses over your product or service offering. If they say “we use state-of-the-art technology to service our clients,” and you sell the best software in that area, you have a common area for discussion. If your list says the CFO is John Doe and yet the website says the CFO is Jane Brown, you have a reason to call and clarify your information.
- Plan your calls. So basic, but so often forgotten. If you have the same plan for every call, you haven’t done your pre-call research. Before you pick up the phone, you need to know who you’re likely to connect with, who you want to speak to, and what you going to say when you get your power person on the line. It’s simple, but unless you focus, stay in the moment, you’ll miss opportunity after opportunity and dollar after dollar.
- Post–Call Research. Research after the call? That’s right. Let’s say you got through to Mr. Big. He tells you he won’t be reviewing next year’s widget needs for another five months. During your conversation he happened to mention Widget Wonder with a positive attitude. Widget Wonder is your biggest competitor, so you drilled down and asked him what he liked about that company. He told you. Now that the call is over, go to Widget Wonder’s site and check out their claims that they made to Mr. Big. See what they’re missing or, even better, see how your widget company is different. Plan your next contact with Mr. Big now. Don’t let your conversation and the information you gathered with it go cold. See how you can not only better serve Mr. Big but better serve all your prospects.
- Use your telephone as a primary research tool. Too often teleprospectors keep conversations separate. But if you remember that you’re not only a teleprospecting expert, but you’re building industry and territory knowledge for your contact management system, you’re really going into overdrive on building your company’s best lists and refining the contact database.
We’re all telephone experts. But with proper research, we’re also list-builders extraordinaire.