Prospecting recon: Take the horse blinders off for high ROI

Or “Why those that think longer term get more short-term results?”

Appointment and discovery call setting is a subset of prospecting.
Prospecting is a subset of your sales process.
You should integrate sales and marketing to work together to achieve best results overall.

Those that think of the process of appointment setting as merely about setting appointments have horse blinders on. You put blinders on horses to keep them from being distracted or spooked. The blinders that sales reps wear keep them from seeing too far ahead and info on the side that would help them.

The most productive teams think of prospecting as a subset of an overall effective sales and marketing plan, and they work a strategy that yields more than qualified meetings every week.

Let me share two powerful techniques that I see the highest ROI teams using.

If you are appointment setting, you are typically working a longer sales cycle and a customer value sufficient to make the effort worthwhile. It is very unlikely that you connect with someone at exactly the right time to make a sale.

Work on a list that closely aligns with your best client persona or profile. Within “good lists” you will find unqualified, low value, average value, high value and what I call “A+” records. A+ records are clones of your existing very best high-value accounts.

You should start your appointment setting journey with the idea that as you call companies, you must proactively seek “recon” on those you are calling. Ask questions that give you some indication of whether a suspect is unqualified (stop calling them) or whether a suspect has a very high or “A+” value, in which case you should leverage that info with a high ROI marketing strategy. A strategy that would not be practical if used to a broader list but will deliver gold to you when applied to a very high value A+ list.

When your team sees prospecting calls as being part of an overall effective sales and marketing plan, the blinders come off. They understand that lead generation success is not measured solely by how many meetings you set that week. They see that they will book more and more meetings when they have a broader view of their role and actively solicit info, recon I call it, that enables them to identify longer term high-value opportunities.

You are going to make the calls, anyway. Why not get far more bang for your buck?

Those that have blinders on and think only, “got to get a meeting, got to get a meeting” and think short term are stuck in the lowest success zone. Those ships always sink.

Those that work a call strategy with a longer-term view end up booking more meetings in the short term and generating way more business in the long term.

What’s long term? You start to realize the benefit of a broader view within three months and really see it in about six months.

So, what’s the first technique? Very simple, it is marketing 101. When you call and identify those very high value A+ accounts, launch a direct mail touch system only to them. You touch these high-value targets consistently with a message of competence and value. Over time, they recognize your name, understand your value, and when they have a need, they call you. Or when you call them, your odds of getting a meeting and closing a sale go way up.

It is the consistency of the touch that provides the value to you. Your touches need not be expensive or complex. The best ones convey info genuinely valuable to your targets, presented straightforwardly. Don’t overdo it or overcomplicate this. Too many do.

If you were to calculate the ROI you get on your calling program, I would bet that the ROI lift from consistently touching your highest value verified targets with a parallel direct mail information campaign would three to five times greater. Easy.

The second technique requires you to think about two years ahead and requires a mindset change. For many companies I work with, there are only so many “good” companies to call. Once those “good” companies are identified and verified as high-value targets, the game becomes more working with a high-value pool already identified rather than constantly calling “new” records.

My observations are that teams that are wearing blinders, thinking only short term, dump more and more records into their system without really identifying and working the highest value records they have already found. Those teams are activity oriented. They have plenty of time to call lousy accounts over and over and suffer from the delusion that call volume is connected to results. The accounts they close overall tend to be smaller, churn faster and deliver lower margins.

I have worked with different divisions/territories with the same company that work with different mindsets and the bottom-line difference is startling.

The teams that have a broader vision of their role, that prospect without blinders on, get better results, and the accounts generated tend to be higher margin and higher lifetime value.

So in summary:

  1. Recognize that initial prospecting activity should connect to an overall effective sales and marketing plan.
  2. Prospecting should be done with a broader view, without blinders on, to pick up all info useful so that you can incorporate other marketing efforts to solidify relationships with your highest value targets over time. Very high ROI activity when targeted to a confirmed high value group. I am a big fan of direct mail for this.
  3. These “touches” directed to your highest value targets need not be expensive. But they must be consistent and deliver info genuinely helpful to your high-value prospects. Info that they are not getting from any other source.
  4. Over time, the appointment setting game should change from constantly calling new records in a calling frenzy to tending the high-value herd you have identified. At some point tending your “herd” of high-value prospects delivers far more results than constantly calling new records searching for someone that will buy now.

I could go on and on about this. Hope it gets you thinking.

 

 

 

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