Prospects are literally bombarded with emails (or LinkedIn messages) and cold calls on a daily basis. 48% of emails are deleted without even seeing the light of the day. Sales reps are increasingly struggling to get noticed with almost 4 out of 10 admitting that getting an answer from prospects is becoming more complicated than a few years back. This means that when you actually get your prospect on the phone, you need to maximise the outcome of the call. According to Leap Job, however, only 2% of cold calls result in appointments, making that phone call even more important than what you might think. With these (depressing) stats in mind, understanding how to increase your sales calls success rate becomes crucial.
You have one chance to make it count. One chance to shine in front of the prospect. One chance to get to the next stage. You are one of the many reps out there chasing that prospect, how are you going to succeed?
OK, you probably might have more than one chance, yet, you don’t want to risk it. Having a process in place aimed at increasing your sales calls success rate will only mean that you might have more prospects moving down the pipeline faster.
First of all, stop cold calling, seriously. The “old style” cold call doesn’t work anymore. There might be still industries (insurance for example) where cold calls are still the best method to talk with a prospect and you can’t “warm up” the lead in other ways. Yet, even if cold calls are your only way to get to a potential client, it’s important to know how we can increase our chances of success.
According to studies, about 90% of the decision-makers don’t respond anymore to cold outreaches. Do you want to play against the odds and try your luck in hitting your quota by getting the remaining 10%? Do you really think it’s worth for your team to waste time cold calling prospects who will not pick up the phone? Do you believe your company can afford yet another quarter missing targets due to this old sales mentality?
Stop interrupting your prospect, start creating a new smart way to reach out. Smart calling is the initial step to hack your way into the prospect’s world.
Improving Your Sales Calls Success Rate
Assuming you have done the first part of the outreaches correctly and you have managed to get your prospect on the phone, what’s next? What do you need to do to increase the chances of making this call a success?
This is how I hack my way into the prospects’ mind and how I have had month-over-month success in hitting my goals by moving leads down my pipe 3x faster than others.
1. Research Your Prospect But Don’t Overdo It
First things first. You need to get some research done. If you are in B2B sales, this is an essential step. Because of the high volume of outreaches, most salespersons don’t have time to research prospects. The research itself, however, is not going to change the outcome of a badly planned call. Don’t take too long in this step. Spend between 3 to 5 minutes to get a general understanding of the counter-part and the company.
Pre-call research is important yet not crucial. Use it to add value to the information you might share with the prospect. With the tools available today, you should be able to bring up: 1. The prospect’s LinkedIn profile, 2. The company website, 3. Google News on the company. If your company is investing in prospecting tools, this research might actually take less than 2 minutes.
I personally like Clearbit as it gives a quick overview by company, with contact details as well. You can have it for free with limited amount of researches or have the paid version. If your company use Slack, you can actually connect the two tools, so that salespeople can simply type the name of the company and get all the information needed.
Lastly, save this information in your CRM tool. In this way, you won’t have to do the research every time you are going to reach out to this company.
2. Ask For Permission
It doesn’t matter whether you have pre-arranged the call or not, you have to acknowledge the prospect’s valuable time. It’s a small thing that shows respect and at the same time, it allows you and the prospect to agree that now is OK to talk.
There are a few ways you could ask for permission, I personally prefer the followings:
“Did I catch you at a bad time?” or
“Can I have 2 (or 5) minutes of your time?”
In the first instance, the prospect might actually tell you “YES”, however, there’s a chance that because people tend not to be rude she might still give you a chance to talk or, in case that doesn’t happen, you can ask for a better moment to get 2 (or 5) minutes of her time.
The second example has a very similar outcome to the first type of question. However, because no one is really that busy, the prospect will hardly push back. If you decide to try this approach, just make sure to actually take 2 or 5 minutes to explain what you want and why you are interrupting the prospect’s day. The call itself doesn’t actually have to last 2 or 5 minutes, but your “pitch” should.
3. Focus On Incremental Wins
A common mistake in sales is to focus on the big and ultimate win (i.e. closing the deal). As salespersons in discovery calls, we cannot focus on what comes at the end of the funnel, if we are still trying to understand the ideal fit.
Focusing on incremental wins is the best way to increase your sales calls success rate. Incremental wins are simply a series of YES to different questions you ask the prospect. Getting multiple YES creates a positive mindset on the prospect side. It also makes the prospect more likely to accept your proposal. Lastly, this strategy creates trust.
By agreeing to your questions or statements, the prospect is acknowledging the fact that you are asking the right questions or saying the right things for him. You are incrementally winning her trust by understanding her needs and pains.
4. Set The Agenda For The Call
In case you are not cold calling the prospect, clearly stating what you expect from the call (after getting permission) shows the prospect that you are not going to waste anyone’s time because you know what you want.
Setting up the agenda is a way to show professionalism and gives security to your prospect. Things might change during the call, of course, but having this as part of the initial process in any conversation will surely increase your sales calls success rate.
Sales reps are expected to be in the driver seat. This step at the beginning will also allow you to revert back to the agenda in case the conversation gets in a direction that is not inherent to the call purpose.
Remember, in a sales call you don’t want to waste anybody’s time, especially yours.
5. Dance In A Balanced Way
In any prospect call (but more in discovery calls), we might get caught up in some strange situations. We might start asking too many questions and the call turns into an interrogatory or we might get too excited and do all the talking.
Gong found out that the ideal talk vs. listen ration is about 45% for the salesperson and 55% for the prospect.
Top performing reps make sure to have a very well-balanced conversation with prospects. It is very important to keep this in mind as sometimes we might not realize it and lose the balance in this dance. Sales calls ideally should look like a normal chat between two friends. Sales reps should always lead the way, but also make sure that the prospect follows carefully that lead, interacting constantly.
6. Do Not Just Give Away Information
The aim of discovery calls is to find out whether there is an ideal fit between the prospect’s company and ours. However, most of the time, the prospect will push back on any action point we are going to bring to the table. The most common way for a prospect to win time is by asking us “to send more information”.
Inexperienced sales reps tend to believe that this is a great opportunity, actually, they might see it as a small win. After all, they are asking for more information about the product or the service or even worse, they want a quote. As said earlier, however, people tend to avoid saying NO directly because it might sound rude.
The reality is that we need to deal with what we have and we cannot simply tell the prospect “NO, I won’t send you this information you are asking me”. We need to be realistic and alert the prospect that at this stage if we do as requested, we might be giving non-valuable information as business expectations are not yet set.
So what’s the best practice? Get their commitment by asking:”Great, I will do that, but because I want to send you only relevant information, can you please let me know…?”
In this way, we are acknowledging the importance of the request, but at the same time, we are asking something to the client that will either get us to a longer conversation or at least let us gather extra information that will make the follow up more actionable. If we find ourselves working on sending a general deck or some quotes without even knowing what the prospect actually wants, we are wasting our time.
7. Live The Call
Tone makes about 87% of any phone call conversation, whereas words only count for 13%. This means that we need to make sure to use the right tone while on the phone as this will have the biggest impact on our sales calls success rates.
Although not always possible, I prefer to stand up and walk while calling a prospect. Standing up gives me more confidence and allows me to speak better. If you sit while talking with a prospect, you might project your position in the conversation.
Sales calls are very hard to crack. Communicating the passion without the prospect seeing your face is very complicated. As said, the tone plays a crucial role, if you are not engaging, enthusiastic and positive, your tone will not communicate passion; hence the need to walk around, smile and live the call.
There is no one-way-fits-all approach to sales. We need to adjust our techniques and processes according to the industry we work in. I believe that the above-mentioned 7 points will give you an advantage when reaching out to prospects as you will have a clear process to follow. Until today, by following this approach, I have been able to move leads down my pipe or disqualify them 3x faster than previously.
Do you have any other suggestion on what would increase sales calls success rates? Leave a comment here below to let us know.