Dial In to Effective New Business Development
“Economical and ubiquitous, the telephone is the ultimate outreach vehicle for effective new business development.”
Any Sales or Marketing executive will tell you there are multiple components to effective new business development:
- Plan – It starts with a solid plan: knowing the industry and the market as well as you know your own company and its products or services, then determining what percentage of the market you can realistically achieve and how to obtain it.
- People – Next, it requires good people: trained and motivated individuals with professional sales skills, in-depth product knowledge, and the desire to match the best solutions to your clients’ needs.
- Process – The third component is process: the systems, metrics, tools and resources that empower your people within the plan, direct their next steps, and allow you to measure their success.
You know all that is true. But in this age of email, websites and blogs, you may have lost sight of an “old school” weapon for effective new business development… an all-too-often underutilized tool that will help increase your ROI: the phone.
Economical and ubiquitous, the telephone is the ultimate outreach vehicle. By phone, the skilled sales professional can open doors, build relationships, identify opportunities, and qualify prospects – all without travel time and expense, but not without purposeful effort.
Anyone can dial a phone, but not everyone knows how to use it strategically. The right training can exponentially increase the effectiveness of phone outreach, right from the very first call. With no relationship, an outbound sales person has 15-30 seconds to present a compressed summation of the “value-added proposition” on the initial call: who he is, whom he represents, how the company helps clients, and why he’s calling. It’s not easy, and it’s certainly not intuitive. It takes practice and a constant investment in professional and personal development to become efficient and overcome obstacles of doubt or fear of “rejection” that can undermine confidence.
It’s a question of questions
An effective cold call moves from those brief introductory sentences to a transitional question that can lay the foundation for a profitable relationship. Crafted long before the inside rep even picks up the phone, it’s that pivotal open-ended inquiry that initiates dialogue. Then, with each subsequent call, he’ll work to build trust, gather information and gauge the opportunity: Does the client have a perceived need that is not being met? Is she receptive to new options?
Effective phone outreach is not about selling as much as it is about discovery. Because the goal is to help the qualified client buy, each call takes on a positive, collaborative tone. A call is successful if it takes the client relationship to the next level. But, as with any worthwhile relationship, building phone rapport takes a considerable investment of time and strategic effort.
To maintain forward momentum on every call, the outbound sales professional takes full advantage of his CRM, entering the details of every contact, capturing conversations, noting specific opportunities as they are presented, and understanding the implications of that information. Then, instead of every call being an independent, isolated event, the system supports each successive contact, and the relationship grows, based on cumulative dialogues.
Focus on the funnel
Specialization is also fundamental to phone success. The best inside sales professional has a narrowly defined, but highly specialized sphere of influence: new business development. His sole challenge is to fill the top-half of the pipeline with highly qualified prospects ready to buy… and keep it full. With that intentionality, there is no question how he will spend his time today, or what he’ll do tomorrow. Disciplined reps think about nothing else, all day, every day.
The measure of successful new business development will first be seen in leading indicators: statistics around impressions, such as numbers of initial calls, follow-up calls, emails sent, or conference calls and meetings set. 95% proactive, leading indicators
describe the volume of directed sales activities, and must be closely monitor- ed. They are reflections of the choices and habits of each inside sales professional, and effective sales managers take advantage of these metrics to mentor and continually grow their people.
Delivering qualified leads
As important as leading indicators may be, it’s the outcome of those consistent activities that counts: filling the top half of the pipeline with qualified opportunities. Results come from establishing and mining well-placed relationships. Developing and delivering the right leads for enterprise sales to close takes a great deal of time, and requires multiple relationships within an organization: as many as five people within each account – all with different perspectives. In such complex sales environments, the most valuable relationships to develop are with primary stakeholders, the internal champions who can help an inside sales rep understand where their companies fall in the sales cycle, and who the key decision-makers are within their organizations.
Pick up the phone
Sounds simple enough; make a few calls, line up a couple of leads, then pull them through to close. But you know that’s not the case. In a world of high technology, high touch still prevails when it comes to building relationships. Use your phone wisely and it can be one of your most valuable assets when you need to reach out and touch someone…and increase your ROI.