How can you reach prospects, B2B decision makers, influencers, and strategic partners. Without any more introduction, here are some “discussion starters.”
1. Clearer voicemail messages — stating the purpose of your call.
2. Voicemail message (when you know you’re reaching a decision maker) conveying that their company falls into your company’s “sweet spot” (if it does), and then let them know why. Often when business people know you know the market, they are more apt to talk. Don’t be afraid to let them know that you feel they could be a great prospective client / customer.
3. To reach a C-level executive, call before 8AM or after 5PM.
4. To reach someone who spends a lot of time on conference calls and phone meetings, try 5-10 minutes before the hour.
5. Get an external referral to an executive.
6. Get an internal referral to an executive.
7. When getting an internal referral (higher up person to lower person), and you don’t get a return call, let that person you were referred to know that you promised (the higher up person) that you’d reach them – this gives some internal leverage. You can also say that you told the exec (if you did) that you would follow-up after you reached them.
8. When you leave multiple voicemails over time, make sure to “own” not reaching them – you’ve called when they were away from their desk, they are super busy, etc.
9. Make good notes in your CRM system (you have one, right?) and know what your next action is – then set it.
10. Be somewhat vague or mysterious. “I’m calling about Marriott” – if Marriott is one of your clients and this prospect is in the hospitality industry. Mystery elicits curiosity. Curiosity gets action.
11. Gain social knowledge – there is a big world out there on the internet – are you leveraging it to learn about prospects?
12. Find triggers that affect your prospects, and tie them into your messaging.
13. Get names or titles confirmed using LinkedIn or other tool – then pick up the phone and call. This can be a very quick two-step process to connecting to people, rather than long research times and crafting emails. CALL.
14. Reference a commonality between you and your buyer, or your company and their company. Example: One of their board members is also with a company that is a client of yours.
15. Be persistent and follow up. Most sellers don’t follow up enough. Doing just this one thing will grow opportunities.
16. Have a series of 3 voice mail messages to leave – mix it up. They should cover different points of value to the buyer.
17. Do the same with e-mail messages. Stop forwarding the same one, with the, “Did you see this?” added to it.
18. Offer a different message for different buyers and recommenders in the company – an executive buys for different reasons from a mid-level manager or a user does. Does your messaging reflect that?
19. Have a multi-faceted approach to reaching buyers – between voice mail, e-mail, direct conversation, Twitter, and/or a handwritten note when applicable.
20. Use Twitter for research. You will be amazed at the searches you can do there.
21. Try LinkedIn’s InMail for a better chance of a reply instead of an e-mail. This works for many, not all.
22. Build up your LinkedIn connections for better referral opportunities. 230+ Million professionals can’t be wrong!
23. Add value by tying context and content to your prospects. You can do this by updating your LinkedIn and/or you can do it by referencing ideas that would be helpful to your buyers right in email and voice mail messaging.
24. Set specific times to prospect, and set goals for accomplishments. Work at beating your goals –compete with yourself — regardless of whatever management contest there may be going on.
25. Befriend administrative assistants rather than trying to go around them. These folks set (and sometimes own) their boss’s calendar- ask them to help you, but also give them an understanding of the great value you bring for their boss.
26. When you have someone on the phone, get agreement on a next action – this keeps the opportunity moving forward.
27. Use Google Alerts, or other system with alerts, to know when specific industry terms are surfacing – this gives you content to talk with buyers about, also can give you more understanding about their (and your) business.
28. Instead of calling, then doing some research, then another call, then research – work in time blocks. Calling in time blocks keeps momentum going while research slows you down.
29. Start the day prepared! At the end of the day before, create a call list for the next day. Have a coffee or tea after you make 5 or 10 calls – productivity will go UP.
30. Sound (and feel) successful. Today IS going to be that day for you. If you sound shaky on the phone, people will know.
What tips can you add? Let’s go for 100!
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the “Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012″ and one of “20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2012 and 2013″. Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling.