By Susanne Barth, Publications Manager
The inside sales team has forwarded you a request for contact that came through your homepage. Good news, right? If you’re directly approached by a prospect it’s most likely that they’re really interested in buying from you. The time needed to close the deal might also be much shorter than when you’re starting lower down the funnel. Now the most important thing is to qualify the lead properly. So show them that you’re a real sales pro who can help them. Make sure that you know the right approach before you pick up the phone:
According to Hubspot, the average response time for companies is still 42 hours (37% respond within an hour, 16% within 24 hours and 24% need more than 24 hours). This is the opposite of what your prospect needs. He most likely did some research before he reached out to you and he’s ready for the next step. He’s eager to talk to you, so don’t let him wait too long. He might also have contacted a competitor at the same time.
“It’s really important that the prospect knows we’ve received his request. So, contact him the day he sent his request.” Carine Claude
Being quick doesn’t mean jumping on that call right away. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because you’re a sales guy, you can do this without any preparation. So before picking up the phone clear your mind, make mental space for this new opportunity, and gather some information. If you work with a call script, edit it to suit your prospect, and help yourself with:
• information about the company and the person
• reference cases you can offer from the same industry
• some good questions prepared in advance
“I always use LinkedIn and a quick Google search on latest news or an industry page. I don’t call prospects when I’m on the road. I give that lead to colleagues who are in the office”. Jos Verbruggen
“Before the call I boost my curiosity: what would I like to know? How can I show my credibility, either on topic or industry? I also think about the objective. What should the outcome be? A Skype call, a meeting, or something else?” Pascal Struijk
The best way to start the call is to be polite, curious, and confident. After you get the basic information, dig deeper and ask about business areas that are related to you. Thank them for the information, say something like: “Thanks for the introduction – I understand what you do and what your challenges are.” Then explain how you could help. Ask the prospect to interrupt you whenever something is unclear. Use the notes you made to make your pitch fully personalised.
“Make sure that you gain further knowledge about the root cause or the need behind the request.” Jos Verbruggen
Don’t be the first to mention money. If you’ve talked about everything else and the prospect isn’t asking about pricing, you can say: “Is there anything else we should cover before we end the call?” If they don’t want to talk about money, it looks like they’re not interested in working with you.
“Being a very good listener and setting clear expectations for both sides is key.” Gepke Bruinsma
Remember that your main priority in this first call is to qualify the lead. To do this you can use the BANT approach (budget, authority, need, and timeline). Therefore, try to finish the first call with a clear view of these four points:
Budget: Is our offer affordable for them?
Authority: Can she make the purchase decision on her own?
Need: Do they have a need that my product/service can fulfil?
Timeframe: Do they have a timeframe for the delivery of the product/service? Does it work for both parties?
Remember that one of the biggest mistakes is not getting this information fast and spending time on a deal with no chance of converting.
“I always ask: Why? Why now? Why us? Why you? Did you already decide to invest?” Pascal Struijk
So what do you do if a lead isn’t fully BANT qualified?
• If there is no budget - nothing will help at the moment
• If there is no authority - ask to be introduced to a decision maker
• If there is no need - disqualify them, ask for a referral, and add them to your database.
• If they’re not ready yet - ask them when they might be ready and follow up by sending them interesting things until they buy in their own time.
To close well be clear and offer a summary of what you’ve discussed. Thank the prospect for their time. If the lead is worth following up, agree concrete next steps and send a recap email with the key takeaways and the next steps you agreed.
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