Plan “B”: Part 2. Where Appointment Setting: Where Most of the Economic Value of Sales Prospecting is Found.

PLAN “B”- PART TWO: WHERE MOST OF THE ECONOMIC VALUE OF SALES PROSPECTING IS TO BE FOUND…AND SIX WAYS YOU CAN TAP IT.

Plan “B”. What is it and why is having one and properly implementing it so critical to capturing the highest return on your investment on your sales prospecting and appointment setting efforts.

Well… because of these realities.

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1. Most of the decision makers you speak to will not agree to an immediate meeting.

2. Most of the target companies you prospect do not have an immediate need.

3. A good number of your targets are excellent short term (1-3 months) targets. They must be identified and nurtured cost effectively.

4. Many, many more of your targets are excellent longer term prospects (3 – 12 months). They also must be identified and nurtured cost-effectively.

The sales prospecting program you establish MUST justify itself economically over the short term. This means that enough meetings get booked… that convert to sales… of sufficient size and profit margin… within a reasonable time period… to justify the time and money invested.

Thirteen long years ago, in the early days of doing this, that was as far as my thinking went. Book meetings that resulted in closed deals and the program was a success. Nothing more. Not much thought was given to a “phase II”. How to get more from those who wouldn’t immediately agree to a meeting or couldn’t be reached on the phone.

But, as I set up more and more successful programs, I came to realize that

IN ADDITION TO the short term economic realities which must be met, THAT THERE WAS A FAR GREATER ECONOMIC BENEFIT TO BE GAINED FROM THOSE WHO WERE NOT RESPONSIVE DURING THE FIRST PASS.

When you are making a “major sale”, which I define as a sale that involves a large amount of money or great risk to the buying organization, and typically involves a three to 12 month sales cycle, the odds of getting the right decision maker on the phone at the right time in the sales cycle and a quick appointment, with the first contact is not typical.

Now again let me emphasize, the instances in which this does happen must be sufficient for the program to justify itself in the start-up phase. There are strategies you can use to quickly skim the cream off the top for quick meetings with solid prospects.

In order to have an effective “Plan B” you must…

1. Have some things to offer your targets THAT THEY WOULD GENUINELY VALUE AND DESIRE. They don’t want info about your company. Even if they say they do, I’d bet on them either lying or being delirious.

2. These offers should account for the fact that your targets will be at varying stages of the sales process. Those in the very very early stages of a long sales cycle (the just noodling around stage) will more likely respond to a different offer than those who will buy within 90 days.

The bottom line is your system must identify these prospects out of the crowd. You must get them to “raise their hands” so that you can see them.

3. Once a prospect responds, they should receive multiple touches from you on an automatic basis. If you think sending your company brochure to someone who has made pleasant sounds is going to advance a sale you are out of your mind.

The “Rule of 7” states that people have to be touched by us at least 7 times before they begin to truly understand what we do and the benefits we can deliver. Most of the time, a “next step” in the sales process will not be a solid one if our prospect has not received multiple touches from us. Your automatic system should recognize that reality and deliver those touches.

And your system must be automatic. If you are customizing too much or you are dealing with prospects as individuals rather than as groups, the reality is that that those touches will not be sent out by you. You will lose deals simply from a lack of organization.

4. Those automatic touches must enable prospects to identify themselves to you when they are ready to move to the next step in the sales process. We can probably agree that it is at least five times more likely that a sale will result if a prospect calls us, rather than us having to chase them. Your system should encourage and make it easy for prospects to initiate action and contact you when they are ready.

Rather than all of your results coming from your efforts at calling people, scheduling meetings and closing deals, after about 90 days from 20% to 25% of your meetings should result from prospects who initiated contact with you as a result of your automated system. After six months 1/3 to 1/2 of your meetings should result from contact initiated from your prospects.

What do you think happens to closing ratio’s and the morale and motivation of your sales team when a substantial percentage of meetings are initiated by the prospects when they are ready to buy?

That’s right. Such a system is easier to set up and execute than you think.

Best wishes for prospecting success,
Scott Channell

copyright 2004-2012 Scott Channell

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