For the love of God, STOP COLD CALLING ME!
Your b2b sales strategies and tactics could use an update. Here are 5 things your sales teams are probably doing that are killing your hottest deals.
The day and age of "Always be Closing" are dead. It's time to teach, and lead with what you know vs what you don't know...
It's all about Inbound Selling
... or "always be educating" for the fans of classic film.
I got my start in B2B sales nearly 2 decades ago when I joined the staffing industry in my early 20s. I am quite familiar with what it means to "cold call," and I am guilty of MOST of the issues I'm going to highlight today.
Why the change of heart? Well, the environment has changed for one. Google has transformed the entire concept of b2b sales (and continues to do so), empowering your customers to make better buying decisions. They are becoming more demanding for short response times, and they're giving away their business to those who connect with them first.
They are becoming smarter about applying due diligence, and information, including public sentiment, is more accessible than ever.
For many sales organizations, what I'm about to touch on is a MAJOR shift in their corporate sales culture.
Sorry in advance, but there's good news...
There are ways to do ALL of these things I'm about to tear into without abusing the system and the prospect's trust... Sometimes it's a slight shift. Sometimes the changes require some major reprogramming....
Inbound sales doesn't work like traditional outbound. If you apply the same tactics to inbound leads, you're not going to generate positive results, and if your sales people aren't warming up their cold leads, they're probably really struggling to stay above water... even yesterday's all-stars.
Often, adopting inbound sales strategies and tactics is a lot harder than it seems, but I am here to make it a whole lot easier.
5. LinkedIn & Twitter Crashing
"LinkedIn crashing" is when somebody connects with you purely so they can bombard you with emails about their service or product offering. "Twitter crashing" comes from automatic direct messages sent after somebody follows you or when you publicly message people you don't know to drum up a conversation about your product or service.
Now, don't get me wrong, I've done my share of LinkedIn crashing over the years, and I definitely experienced positive results from it.
But things have changed. I started doing it 14 years ago when LinkedIn was just a baby. I was by myself in the method that has overwhelmed LinkedIn today, causing them platform to take drastic actions around data scraping and other tools that are designed to exploit the networking platform.
LinkedIn is still a fantastic tool for prospecting, and equally amazing for generating quality, fruit-bearing connections.
But try these ideas instead:
- Check out the tool "Crystal Knows." It's a DISC assessment tool that gives you insight to a person's personality. It even offers tips for word tracks in emails or opening lines in conversations - all based on the personality they exhibit through their profile.
- Use LinkedIn to identify the people, and reach out to them, but don't use it as an opportunity to pitch... instead, let them see your newsfeed, and see what they find interesting enough to share on theirs.
LinkedIn and Twitter are still great forums for meeting new prospects, but many quality opportunities require more than cold messaging.
4. Junk Email and MailTweet
I still can't believe how much junk mail I get every day. None of it gets read, and the statistics about its growing uselessness are staggering. To compound the issue, it seems that the more useless it gets, the more I receive. How is filling the landfills with your marketing materials going to entice me?
And, how are they any different with spam emails? ... they're not.
When it comes to sales emails, I always find that the best approach is consistency...
Leaving a voicemail? Follow it up with a related message.
Better yet, give your sales teams email templates, so they can convey the messaging you want, and generate results you know are possible.
Hubspot Sales allows your marketing team to create email templates that they can update based on hard data. We get metrics around general use as well as open, click, and reply rates.
Each stage in your sales process should have specific desired outcomes and emails to accompany them.
For example, after a connect call (the first step in the inbound selling process), it's always a good idea to follow up with an email that explains key take-aways along with next steps. After a demo, it's good to recap the details along with providing homework to gage buy-in.
Voicemail follow-ups should also be put in template form.
At the end of the day, your sales emails don't have to feel like junk if you put time and energy into a consultative tone that matches the stages of your sales cycle.
3. The Mystery Message
As a senior b2b sales professional, I attended MANY company meetings where the "bait and switch" method was touted as being the golden lead conversion path. Those who were willing to do it tended to have the highest call-back rates, but the issue itself was polarizing.
For some reason, higher call-back rates didn't seem translate to higher sales conversion rates.This just in: ... they STILL don't
Could it be because nobody wants to be made a fool? It's disrespectful, disruptive, and it's going to turn off more people than you realize.
There are ways to be "mysterious" without being wierd about it.
For example, an inbound selling best practice worth checking out is frame the message around what can be objectively gathered about the individual lead, and start with that, ending with YOU.
Here's how I would frame a voicemail with the following information:
- Industry: Software
- Download 1: Guide to Getting Started with Inbound Lead Generation
- Download 2: Inbound Lead Generation Playbook
"Hi Jim, I understand you are looking for ways to grow your business, and are currently exploring things like inbound lead generation... I called to see how I can help. Give me a call back at 949.478.5175. This is Lucas with Orange Pegs."
Notice how I still maintain a sense of mystery by the way I framed the call? ... but didn't make it wierd by hiding my intentions?
2. Wolf in Sheep's clothing
This is similar to the mystery message in the fact that we're dealing with a bait-and-switch. The MOST annoying version of this is when we are led to believe that somebody is considering buying our products and/or services by stating they need your help, but in reality they were just trying to get our attention so they could pitch.
"Hey, I'd like to talk to you about a partnership opportunity," should mean just that, not, "I want my sales team to partner with your buyers so I can make money off of you."
There is no replacement for honesty. Lying is lying, and it puts you in a bad position with your prospects when the first words out of your mouth or read via email, social media or otherwise, are complete and utter nonsense.
Here's the inbound selling best practice:
"HI Jim, this is Lucas with Orange Pegs. (wait for response) How are you doing today? (or other ice-breaker - wait for response)."
If response is positive, insert the value proposition based on what we know about them, "We help $5,000,000+ SaaS companies that are investing a lot of time, energy, and resources into their websites, but they're not generating quality leads. Does that sound like you?"
If response is negative, "Ugh... it doesn't sound like you were expecting my call... Would you mind if I took a step back and shared with you my discoveries after digging into the tools you were looking at and your company's online experience?"
1. Straight up Cold Calling
I never pick up the phone anymore when it's an 800 number or restricted, and I'm quick to hang up when there's that switchboard-induced delay between my hello and theirs. I may listen to the message at some point, but I'll delete it the second I sense that it's too pushy.
Raise your hand if you agree.
But it's not just the giant enterprises that are flubbing the cold call by failing to warm it up.
There are SO many different ways to turn the pitch call into a connect call.
- Find them on LinkedIn & run Ask Crystal
- See what they're posting about online
- Look for a warm introduction
- Switch to the "how can I help" intro verses the cold pitch
Cold calling isn't dead, but it's certainly evolving. If you're looking for help with transitioning to the evolved buyer, or your sales teams are working with inbound leads for the first time and not seeing the kind of results you had expected, we can help. Check out our inbound sales coaching services to learn more!