Question of the Month: How do I call a leads list without feeling pushy?

by Shannon F. So you’ve been given a leads list of companies planning an office move. If you’re a moving company or an organization that provides office furniture, equipment, and services, this is actionable information that could have lucrative results – but you lack confidence when pursuing these prospects because they didn’t disclose their information directly to you. You would hate to come off as pushy or invasive. The truth is: top sales reps buy as many lead lists as they can get their hands on. Effective salespeople know they should keep adding lead sources until they can’t handle any more, but they also know that there’s a right and a wrong way to handle prospects who did not directly disclose TO YOU their plans, needs, and intent to buy. 1. Be selective. Scrutinize the leads list to see which prospects are a good fit. By doing your research ahead of time, you won’t waste time pursuing leads that are outside of your territory, too small, or otherwise not a good prospect for you. 2. Try to find a better contact in the company. Do you have an associate or friend who knows someone in the organization you are approaching? See if you can get an introduction. The rule that people do business with friends (not strangers) still holds. 3. The first time you contact a lead, you should NEVER try to sell. Send an email with free information, suggest a blog post or article that might be helpful, or […]

Question of the Month: How many times do I have to call to get an appointment?

by Shannon F. The numbers may surprise you, but they’re really true: 80% of sales are made after the 5th through 12th attempt. A common beginner mistake after receiving a leads list is to call each contact once or twice and then let it go; in fact, only 12% of salespeople persist after the third attempt. Unfortunately, one or two calls will barely register with your prospect. Think about how many times you need to be introduced to a particular brand before it immediately comes to your mind when you have a need. (According to an early advertising guide, 20 times is the magic number.) The Right Attitude Keep in mind that your prospect is, at best, distracted and, at worst, overcommitted, stressed out, and struggling with a fragmented attention span. Those are merely the realities of the workplace today. In many cases your first call won’t be lucky enough to catch the prospect on a good day. You may be sent straight to voicemail, which is not necessarily a bad thing. You may be hung up on or lied to. It is essential to believe that your prospects need your product or service and that it is your duty to help them improve the way they run their business. Without confidence in the importance of what you have to offer, it can be difficult to make the 5 to twelve – or more – prospecting calls that you need to set an appointment and close the deal. Is the […]

Question of the Month: How Do I Write a Better Prospecting Email?

by Shannon F. Almost everyone has room for improvement when it comes to writing an effective sales email. If you don’t have a marketing department to help you strategize in this area, you may feel a bit lost—after all, sales is your area of expertise, and perhaps you don’t know the finer points of crafting a compelling paragraph. It’s not as hard as you think. We’ll cover 5 common missteps and show you how to correct them. Before long, your emails will be soaring through spam filters and delighting your prospects. Misstep #1 Salesy or spammy language If you’re sending emails like this one, you may be in trouble: Dear Benjamin Klein, Want to save money on your phone bill? Cut costs the easy way. Call ABC Telecom today to get a free quote. The email above makes a few mistakes. For one, it auto-fills Benjamin Klein’s first AND last name, making it pretty obvious that you are sending a generic email template. The body of the email also uses the kind of language that triggers spam filters and also makes the prospect unlikely to give it a second glance; “save money,” “cut costs,” “easy,” and “free,” should be used sparingly, and never all at once. The biggest fault of the email is that it fails to build trust or engage the prospect. A better version of this email might sound like this: Hello Benjamin, I just wanted to reach out and invite you to an informative webinar we are […]

What should I do when my prospect lies to me about their trigger event?

In the past, we’ve discussed how trigger events such as an office move are the best indicators of an impending purchase. But what happens when a prospect refuses to admit that the trigger event is actually happening? This is a customer scenario that we see frequently:


Sales Rep Bob contacts a confirmed office relocation lead, and the company (let’s call them ABC Co.) promptly tells him: “You’re the fifth salesperson to contact me today. I don’t know where you got your information, but we’re not moving our business.” Sales Rep Bob becomes discouraged and assumes that ABC Co. is telling the truth: they’re not moving. He gives up on the lead. Several months later, ABC Co. relocates their office, using the services of Bob’s competitor.

What to do when the Sales Cycle is Lengthening

by Shannon F.   Recent research  shows that the B2B sales cycle is lengthening, causing more and more companies to miss sales goals, fail to achieve growth, and ultimately lose millions. Why is today’s average sales cycle longer than it was five years ago? For one, the buyer’s mindset has changed; even as the marketplace bounces back, the economic downturn did its damage, making business decision-makers cautious, skeptical, and less willing to part with money. Don’t expect this mindset to go away in a hurry; just as our Depression-era grandparents still tip on the wrong side of 10% and buy these cookies, today’s buyers are once burned, twice shy. They also have less decision-making autonomy and may be increasingly required to get approval on proposed purchases from higher management. This results in delays when it comes to finalizing decisions and closing the deal. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your sales pipeline filled, overcome buyer hang-ups, and make sure a longer sales cycle doesn’t negatively impact your bottom line. 1. Focus on trigger events. A trigger event with a timeline (such as an office move) gives the buyer a compelling reason to make decisions quickly. A trigger event allows you to accurately predict when a deal will close. For example, if a company must be up and running in the new office by September 1st, they are going to have to decide on a new phone system at least 30 days prior, or major delays will occur. […]

Your prospects don’t have to be nice to you. 5 mean moves you can counteract when cold-calling

by Shannon F. Busy prospects don’t always appreciate getting your call in the middle of their day. Every salesperson has a cold-calling story about someone who reacted badly to repeated attempts at contact. Here’s how to deal with 5 ways that prospects may behave in a less than civil manner. Your Prospect Ignores Your Calls. Aren’t they ever in their office?! When you’ve made your 7-12 cold-calling attempts and still have not gotten your prospect on the phone, it’s time to accept that he or she may be ignoring your calls. Best Fix: Mix up your approaches. Try sending an email or even a personalized letter. If you use InsightPRM, try sending an instant email from the PRM at the same time as you are leaving a voicemail. Set up your email template to say, “I just called and left a voicemail for you regarding_________. I’d love to have a chance to discuss this with you in person.” Some phone-phobic prospects respond to emails in an instant. Last Resort: Schedule your next follow-up call for a few months out, and try again at that time. Your Prospect Lies to You. You know for a fact that they are moving their office, but they insist they are not in the market for commercial moving services. Chances are that your prospect is withholding the truth in order to get you off the phone. Sound improbable? Consider that the average individual is lied to as many as 200 times in a day. That […]

Permission-based marketing is simply good manners…even when you have a list of sales leads.

by Shannon F. If purchasing a list of sales leads doesn’t sound like permission-based marketing to you, keep reading. At InsightPRM, we provide targeted office relocation leads while also encouraging our customers to say “please” before aggressively marketing to those prospects. In fact, we’d like to take the word “aggressively” out of that last sentence and replace it with “politely.” You’ll be most effective if you follow these three Victorian-inspired etiquette rules. Don’t contact someone without an introduction. In the Victorian era, it was unheard of to call someone without a formal introduction. Even if your sales lead provider gives you some great contacts, never call those first. Instead, see if you know someone who knows someone within the company, and get a proper introduction. Your mutual contact should say something along the lines of, “Hello X, my acquaintance Z is ever so desirous of meeting you. With your consent, I’ll bring her around in my carriage tomorrow at half past two.” (Arranging an introduction is actually much simpler than it used to be. Simply do a Linkedin search for contacts you know or wish to know at the company you are hoping to do business with. If you have a Linkedin connection in that company already, he or she should be your first contact. If you don’t know someone at that company, you surely know someone who knows someone. Actively build up your local Linkedin network until you have a means of introduction at any company you wish to […]

What to do after a sales cold call

by Shannon F. Sales cold calls are not usually stand-out events, either for the person making the call or the person receiving it. After the receptionist writes (or pretends to write) your name down, she or he generally forgets that you exist. Even if you get through to a decision-maker, you are probably just one of many disruptions that day. The general forgettability (we made that word up) of the average cold call is partly to blame for the staggering number of touches you’re probably going to have to make before you manage to set an appointment (between 12 and 18, ouch). Following up the right way can help you set more appointments, more efficiently. Always send a follow-up email Immediately after you hang up the phone—even if you just left a brief voicemail—send an email. It should be something like, “Hi, I recently spoke to you (or tried to reach you) regarding _____. I would like to set up an appointment to discuss_____. Please contact me at your convenience.” Busy people are more likely to check their email than answer the phone, so even if repeated call-backs don’t elicit a response, a simple email may do the trick. Connect with them online As soon as you’ve spoken to a prospect, connect with him or her on LinkedIn. This will give you another means of contact. Plus, you may be able to reach out to other members of the same company who are connected to your initial contact. Remember: the […]

Do sneaky cold-calling attempts pay off?

By Shannon F. The easy answer is: sometimes, but not usually. When sales reps find that being straightforward isn’t working for them, they may resort to other tactics with varying degrees of success. Most gatekeepers are pretty good at making sure salespeople never get through to key decision-makers, so we’ve heard cold-callers try everything under the sun to keep from being brushed off. Some sneaky cold-calling practices that we dislike include: Mumbling the name of your company. If you’re not proud to say who you work for, you probably shouldn’t be selling your product. Plus, you’re crazy if you think a gatekeeper is just going to pass you off to the boss without asking you to repeat yourself. Some sales reps refuse to say the name of the company even when pressed, which brings us to the next cold-calling don’t: “It’s just a business call.” This often-used line is intended to brush off gatekeepers, but be warned: you’ll definitely ruffle their feathers. They know it’s a sales call, and because you weren’t transparent from the beginning, there’s no way they’ll put you through to the decision-maker. Pretending to be the boss’s best friend. “Oh hey, it’s Greg. Is Sarah around?” is not going to fool anyone, since you would have called Sarah’s cell or direct line if the two of you were actually close. And if you do reach a decision-maker, don’t cross the line between friendly and manic. Gushing “How are you!” is pretty off-putting if you have no […]

Your sales competition isn’t calling back.

by Shannon F. A frustrating experience Last fall, we tried to do something that should have been very easy but ended up being a two-week-long exercise in frustration: find a local vendor to fulfill our printing needs. We needed several thousand postcards immediately to send to contacts who we believed might be interested in InsightPRM. In addition to the initial postcard order, there was the likelihood that we would form a long-term relationship with the print shop and place a lot of orders with them in coming years—we were the perfect lead, right? The first print shop responded to our phone call—in fact, the owner answered the phone and mentioned that he really wanted the job, because business had been slow lately. But he never gave us the quote we requested. Only after several calls and emails from us did he finally send an estimate—for the cost of the mailing service only, not the actual printing costs! He never followed up to see if we had any questions about the estimate, at which point we would have told him it was wrong. The second print shop actually sent over a representative to our location (true story: she brought her own stash of organic sugar and demanded to be led to the coffee). But after that initial meeting, she didn’t get back to us with a quote. Months later, she called to berate us for going with her competition. “I don’t have time to sit around figuring out quotes and getting […]