How to Spend Less Time Prospecting and More Time Selling

In this webinar, Nimble CEO Jon Ferrara discusses how to get more qualified leads with Mark Hunter, one of the top 50 influential sales and marketing leaders. Mark is also the author of the book High-Profit Prospecting and helps companies and salespeople worldwide retain better prospects.

Accelerate Your Sales Process to Increase Conversion

Today’s customers are fast-paced, busy, and armed with information. You have to accelerate the timetable when handling sales leads if you want to move them through the sales funnel and convert them to customers.

It used to be typical for a potential customer or inquiry to come in, only to lay in wait until sales followed up a few days later. However, times have changed. We have to sell smarter and faster in order to keep up with modern sales prospecting techniques.

Narrow Your Sales Funnel to Build a Quality Pipeline

If you’re one of those people with a tendency to keep a lot of prospects in the funnel, it’s time to rethink that approach. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. You may believe you’re going to generate a lot of leads with a wide funnel, but instead, you’ll end up with a pipeline of “hot prospects” that are really cold prospects.

When you narrow the funnel, you create a quality prospecting pipeline, allowing you to focus your energy on more qualified prospects (hot prospects or warm prospects) and identifying buyer personas, which is extremely important in today’s accelerated sales cycle.

Segment Your Prospects to Strategize Outreach

Because reaching prospects in different industries or with different outcomes requires different methods, you need to segment your pipeline and truly understand your buyer personas. Take your current customers and make a list of all the outcomes you’ve provided for them; not the features of your product or service, but the results.

How can your product or service help them achieve their goals? Make a list of all your outcomes and group them together. From there your sales team or sales rep can begin to segment your prospects, allowing you to target prospects looking for similar outcomes.

how to prospect smarter and faster

Qualify Your Prospects to Avoid Wasting Time

Your most valuable asset is your time.

Qualifying your prospects quickly allows you to spend more time with fewer and more qualified leads.

Identify your most qualified prospects and move unqualified prospects in your pipeline to your marketing list where you can stay in contact with them, but focus your time on the phone with your best leads. This minimizes the time wasted on searching for potential leads just to have your cold calling or cold email outreach be for nothing.

“Leads aren’t created equal,” says Mark. “You can identify bad prospects in your pipeline by asking yourself this question – Have you ever had to discount a price to close a deal? If your answer is yes, then you’re going after the wrong prospects.”

 

Develop Power Questions to Identify Buyer Personas

You have to find out who the right people are for your business very quickly. You do that with questions that are going to accelerate your prospect and engage them rapidly in a conversation. Ask them questions to make them stop and think.

The internet provides you with a tremendous amount of information to help you research and develop power questions that are going to engage your prospect quickly.

Power questions are designed to get the prospect to give you a micro-commitment, which is the agreement to do something for you, such as look at a document or attend another meeting or call.

Ask questions that are going to help the prospect open up about their business issues with you — whether it’s the impact of a new competitor coming into the marketplace or how they’re planning to deal with regulatory changes. If you can ask a question that’s linked to time, you will get them thinking and sharing information with you.

In response, you may ask how it’s going to affect their customers or the people they support. This is a great way to judge the quality of a potential prospect.

If you asked them to do something after the call and they respond, that indicates they’re engaged, interested, and a potential buyer. If they don’t respond, don’t rule them out as a prospect, but use it as an indicator they may not be your best lead right now.

Leave Short Voicemails to Start the Conversation

Contrary to popular belief, people do listen to voicemails.

Voicemails are like a billboard — you may know they’re not going to respond back to you, but you’re putting your message out there. A perfect voicemail is around 12 to 14 seconds because you want them to know that you know their time is valuable. You want to keep your cold outreach as succinct as possible.

A long rambling voicemail indicates you don’t know what you’re doing. A brief high energy voicemail will leave an impact. Use this simple three-step process:

1) Your introduction – use your prospect’s name,

2) Your call to action – leave information regarding what you want them to do

3) Reinforce – repeat your phone number twice. That’s all it is.

Follow the “One-Swipe Rule” for Email Outreach

The majority of emails are viewed today on a smartphone, so it’s important to make sure your email follows the one-swipe rule: if you can’t read your email within one swipe, shorten it. Long emails get deleted; write very tight emails that consist of three critical elements:

1) Short copy

2) A subject line that grabs the prospect

3) Your reason for reaching out in the first six or eight words. If you know someone they know, mention their name up front.

In those first six or eight words of your email, ask your power question. Then introduce yourself. Indicate you’d be happy to share some information with them on the subject and include your phone number. It would be easy for them to hit reply, but you want to try to get them to call you. Share enough critical information to grab their attention and want to pick up the phone.

“One of the biggest mistakes salespeople make when prospecting is sending the same message out to the same person over and over again,” explains Mark. “Every message you send to your customers, every message you send to your prospects, must convey different value.”

Get Creative with Your Follow-Up Outreach

Call at the top of the hour

Use the 58-2 technique, meaning you call 58 minutes after the hour or two minutes into the hour. They’re busy and in meetings all day, so the easiest way to reach them is to call right at the top of the hour when they’re in between meetings. It’s amazing the conversations with people you’ll wind up getting that you’ve never had before.

Send morning emails

 If you’re trying to reach a senior-level person, don’t hesitate to send them an email Saturday morning at 6:15 a.m. They never stop working. During the week they’re busy and have gatekeepers who block everything from them. But on the weekend those messages come right to their smartphone or tablet. Make sure that if they do respond back to you over the weekend that you don’t wait until Monday to follow up.

Use a four or six-day rotation

Whatever you think the right number of times to reach out to a prospect is, double it. The number of times it takes to close a sale is going to vary by industry, purchase cycle, size of purchase, etc., so make sure you maintain regular contact to stay top of mind with your prospects.

Your schedule is not your prospect’s schedule. Instead of making your prospecting calls at the same time every day, change it up and use a four-day or six-day rotation. By making your next call four or six working days later, you always move the call to a different day of the week. Change up the time of day you call and alternate contact between email and phone calls.

Continue to Engage

Once you’ve had a conversation and the prospect has shared information with you, repeat back to them what they shared in your next exchange, and tell them you’d like to get some more input on the subject.

Your prospect will be blown away that you actually listened and cared. Whether it’s a voicemail or email, it’s one of the best ways to follow-up with them. One of the things people often say is that they had initial contact with someone and then they went dark on them. Keep in touch and continue to build the relationship.

Use Gatekeepers to Connect

Chances are your prospect isn’t going to answer the phone. But your call may get answered by a gatekeeper. A gatekeeper may be a senior administrative person or it may be the operator or the person answering the phone that day. Think of these people as door openers who can help connect you with the decision-maker. Ask them the same questions you would ask your prospect, and they will probably be impressed and help get you to the right person.

how to prospect smarter and faster

Or your call may go to an automated system. Keep in mind there are really only two departments that routinely answer the phone – accounts receivable and sales. Listen to the prompts and press the number for sales. A mid-level salesperson is probably going to answer the phone. Tell them upfront that you’re in sales and you want to help them acquire new customers. Volunteer to help them and, in turn, (hopefully) they will help you.

Closing Thoughts

When you focus on a tighter number of leads, you can spend more time developing deeper relationships and having more personable conversations. Those meaningful conversations will uncover the truth and create a level of trust with your prospect. Trust is currency. Find ways to help them solve their problems and grow, and you’ll create more profit.

“Build intimacy and trust with your prospect by sharing the five F’s of life: family, friends, food, fun, and fellowship,” says Jon. “Get them to open up about these areas of commonality of life, which is where you connect with people and where relationships have to go to sustain them.”

 

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