The Ten Commandments of Prospecting: 2020 Edition
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How to Make the Best Follow-Up Sales Call in 2019
Written by Meg Prater / Hubspot
If you're in sales, you've likely seen the 2011 "Lead Response Management Study." It analyzed three year's worth of data,100,000 call attempts, six companies, and 15,000 leads and synthesized findings to bring salespeople scientific answers to age-old questions like "What are the best days to call my prospects?" and "What time should I contact my leads?"
This kind of research is invaluable to reps. It helps them plan their weeks, maximize the impact of each call they make, and become more efficient, successful salespeople.
Best Times to Make Sales Calls
These days, many reps are more comfortable sending an automated email than picking up the phone. But, before moving forward, it's worth identifying whether the phone is even the best way to follow up with leads today.
That answer is "Yes." A recent study by sales pro Marc Wayshak shows the phone is still the best tool in selling, with 41.2% of respondents naming their phone as their most effective sales tool.
How to Get Better Results from Your Prospecting
Every time you reach out to a customer to ask for time, you are making a couple of decisions. The first decision you are making is around the medium you choose. If you are asking for a meeting, there are different choices available to you, and a greater or lesser likelihood of achieving the outcome you want, in this case, a meeting.
If you choose email as the medium, you are choosing a medium that isn’t particularly good for acquiring meetings. Email is something that is easy to ignore, and because you aren’t present, there is no way for you to resolve your dream client’s concerns about giving you their time. Sometimes they politely reject your request, and other times (maybe most of the time), they just delete the email and move on with their work.
The phone still reigns supreme as the best medium, not least of all because almost anyone you would want to reach is never more than 36 inches away from their phone (it turns out that any distance further than 36 inches away causes headaches, sweating, difficulty in breathing, and in some cases, violent convulsions). A phone call allows for conversation, a synchronous communication and not asynchronous, like email, where there is a long pause between exchanges. If your prospective client has concerns, you are there to address them, massively increasing your odds of securing a meeting, if you’ve got the chops.
The second decision is what you are offering of value in trade for your dream client’s time. If you want greater success, you have trade something where your dream client benefits even if they never buy from you. The Trading Value rule is critical (read more here in The Lost Art of Closing). If your client doesn’t recognize the value in meeting with you, you make it easy for them to reject your request and do something else with their time.
If you can trade insights, ideas, new thinking, or interesting experiences from which they can benefit, there is value outside of deciding to buy from you. When you pitch the great privilege of listening to you talk about you, your company, your locations, and your solutions, you repel people from you like a skunk at the garden party.
If you want to make prospecting easier, get better at it.
How to Be Persistent in Sales Without Annoying Your Prospects
So you've done the preliminary research on a prospect and it looks like you could really help them out. The next step is to get them on the phone.
There will be times when you connect with them on your first try. More often than not, however, you have to try very hard to stand out from the rest of the people interrupting their day. How do you break through inbox clutter and the black hole that is voicemail? And how do you toe that fine line between persistence and harassment? Use these tips for following up with a prospect without bothering them.
Is Cold Calling Dead? 17 New Prospecting Strategies Salespeople Should Use
Is cold calling dead? Let's be honest. That answer is "No." Cold calling used to be one of the best -- and only -- prospecting strategies salespeople could use.
But in the past 40 years, a variety of more effective alternatives have emerged. While it's likely naive to say cold calling is never effective, useful, or necessary, it's crucial to elevate the rest of your prospecting strategy so it's never your go-to tactic.
In this post, we'll compare warm calling and cold calling, and discuss how to make calls to prospects you aren't very familiar with more productive -- and less intrusive.
In the words of Mark Twain, rumors of cold calling's death have been greatly exaggerated. Instead, you need to update and finesse your cold calling strategy so you're using all of the resources available to you to build rapport and make a connection. Let's run through the differences between warm calling and cold calling:
Cold Calling vs. Warm Calling
What is warm calling?
"Warm calling" means you establish contact with a prospect before sending them an email. You might connect on LinkedIn, communicate over social media, or have a mutual acquaintance introduce you before you actually reach out to them with the intention of making a sale.
A good prospecting strategy is:
What is cold calling?
"Cold calling" refers to calling a prospect you haven't previously made a connection with before sending them an email or calling them on the phone to talk to them about your product or service.
With over 200 million people on the national do not call list alone, T-Mobile releasing data-only mobile packages, and corporations not taking calls unless you have a named contact, it's clear that our desire to speak with people on the phone is dwindling -- especially if those calls are unsolicited.
On top of that, prospects can now research company information, reviews, feedback, and all manner of information online. Cold calling is becoming an unnecessary nuisance -- prospects no longer need salespeople in the same ways they used to.
In fact, it's fair to say that anyone interrupting your day with an uninvited three-minute script is going to have to do some seriously fast and impressive talking to keep you on the line.
The odds aren't on the salesperson's side: Chances are the caller has already had to get creative about how they got through to your desk phone in the first place, and the call itself has probably begun with you being mildly irritated at best.
So, while prospects are annoyed that their days are still being interrupted by cold calls, sellers aren't having a good time either. They most likely have managers who demand more than 20-30 calls a day and expect just as many meetings booked per week.
But expectations and reality could not be farther apart. In sales organizations that rely on cold calling, lead flow is slowing down, the sales team is getting frustrated, and managers are getting increasingly angry.
The Harvard Business Review reported cold calling is ineffective 90% of the time, and more recent research shows that less than 2% of cold calls actually result in a meeting. Assuming a 0.3% appointment-booking rate and a 20% win rate, it would take 6,264 cold calls to make just four sales.
What can the modern business do to protect its future and get new leads without cold calling? The good news is that it doesn't involve a circus act or shameless begging of any sort.
The bad news is that it requires a completely different way of thinking and some serious energy and hard work. Here are 17 alternatives to cold calling salespeople can use to generate leads.
18 No-Brainer Ways to Connect with More Prospects More Easily
Looking for a few easy, virtually-free ways to immediately connect with more prospects? I’m willing to bet you just said, "That’s a no-brainer."
Below, are 18 methods for reaching prospects. Some of them take seconds to deploy, and all of them will save you time throughout your workday. To help prioritize first steps, they are in sequential order -- starting with those that offer value the fastest and ending with those that require more time.
However, don’t stop after the first few. They provide the groundwork for the tips at the bottom -- which are well worth the extra effort.
Here is a link to the Hubspot article with all the details. Hope this helps in your prospecting and follow-up efforts.
Your Path to AEP Success
With the AEP right around the corner, now is the time to make sure you are aligned with the right partner.
PSM is your one-stop-shop for all the resources you need to ensure a successful AEP. Whether it be a strong portfolio of the industry's leading companies, free quoting and sales technology to increase your sales, or discounts on AHIP training / lead generation, we've got you covered.
Your path to success starts here:
Request Information today and we will gladly make sure you are on our list to receive updates. We would also encourage you to call 800-998-7715 and speak with one of our marketers to discuss ideas and we can personalize our services to benefit your business.
Hispanic Market of Growing Interest to Insurance Agents
Not only are Hispanics the fastest-growing young demographic in the U.S., but they have the longest life expectancy at birth, facts that might interest insurance agents looking to build their books of business.
Underwriters of life insurance policies might also want to take note as the nation becomes more ethnically and racially diverse and as Hispanics continued to be underrepresented in life insurance coverage.
The data are the latest findings published by the National Center for Health Statistics in “Health, United States 2016.”
“By 2015, just over one-half of the child and adolescent population was non-Hispanic white and one-quarter was Hispanic,” study authors wrote in the 488-page report.
The NCHS is the principal data collection agency of the Centers for Disease Control within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
There were about 321 million people in the U.S. in 2015, compared with 216 million in 1975.
In 2015, nearly a quarter (24.6 percent) of the population ages 0 to 17 years old was Hispanic, an increase from 17.1 percent in 2000, as that age segment grew fastest.
Hispanics ages 18 to 64 years old made up 17.3 percent of the population, an increase from 12.2 percent in 2000, the report found.
Hispanics 65 years and older made up 7.9 percent of the population in 2015, an increase from 5 percent in 2000, the health data found.
By comparison, in 2015 whites made up 51.5 percent of the population age 0 to 17 years old compared with 61.3 percent in 2000.
In 2015 whites 18 to 64 years old made up 61.5 percent of the population, compared with 70 percent in 2000. Whites 65 years and older made up 77.8 percent compared with 83.8 percent in 2000, the data show.
Life Expectancy Highest Among Hispanics
That the nation’s population is moving toward racial and ethnic diversity isn’t exactly new, but the latest mortality data about Hispanics might be.
During 1975-2015, average life expectancy at birth in the U.S. rose from 68.8 years to 76.3 years for men and from 76.6 years to 81.2 years for women.
In 2015, Hispanic men had a life expectancy at birth, on average, of 79.3 years and Hispanic women had an expectancy of 84.3 years.
Non-Hispanic black men, with a life expectancy at birth of 71.8 years and non-Hispanic black women, with a life expectancy of 78.1 years, had the shortest, according to the data.
Life expectancy at birth was 7.5 years longer for Hispanic men than for non-Hispanic black men and 6.2 years longer for Hispanic women than for non-Hispanic black women.
The leading cause of death in 2015 was heart disease, which claimed 23.4 percent of all deaths, the data show.
Heart disease was followed by cancer (22 percent), CLRD, or chronic lower respiratory disease, (5.7 percent), unintentional injuries (5.4 percent), stroke (5.2 percent), Alzheimer’s (4.1 percent), diabetes (2.9 percent), influenza and pneumonia (2.1 percent), nephritis and nephrosis, or kidney disease (1.8 percent), and suicide (1.6 percent).
From 2011 to 2014, diabetes, a condition in which the body is deprived of insulin, affected 12 percent of adults age 20 and older.
From 1988 to 1994, diabetes affected 8.8 percent of adults 20 and older, the data show.
Between 2011 to 2014, the prevalence of diabetes among blacks and Hispanics of Mexican origin was almost twice as high than for non-Hispanic whites, the data found.
5 Prospecting Methods That
It’s no surprise that prospecting is the No. 1 challenge advisors face, year after year. When, as part of National Underwriter’s recent Independent Producer Study, we asked about the most challenging aspects of selling insurance products, 55 percent of respondents named prospecting as their top trial. It was a landslide winner, in fact, beating such formidable obstacles as clients’ lack of understanding around the need for insurance (34%), negative opinions of insurance products (25%) and product affordability (22%).
As you look to overcome this challenge in the year ahead, keep these five techniques in mind. While there’s no silver bullet to make prospecting a breeze, these are the methods your peers know from experience to really work.
A steady stream of qualified referrals is the lifeblood of any agency. Eighty-two percent of survey respondents cited referrals as the most effective way to prospect for new business, and for good reason: No other method will provide greater bang for your buck, so to speak. Having a solid referral-generating process in place will ensure not only that you are constantly introduced to new prospects, but that you are constantly introduced to the right prospects — the ones that meet your Ideal Client profile.
Referral expert Bill Cates suggests growing your referral network by being careful to keep referral sources informed about how you are following up on their help. This communicates that you value their insight and advice. Says Cates: “When someone gives you a referral, there are three things you MUST do to keep the referrals coming from that source: a) Follow up on every referral you get as soon as possible; b) Let your source know that you are following up on their help; c) Thank your referral source with a handwritten note and a small gift.”
At 34 percent, community involvement was named the second most effective prospecting technique. It’s Branding 101: The more people who associate your name with a positive message, the more clients you will have. Jim Brogan, president and founder of Brogan Financial in Knoxville, Tenn., makes community involvement a cornerstone of his practice, and has seen a boom in business as a result – not to mention a greater satisfaction and sense of fulfillment in the work he does each day. He encourages financial advisors to ask these questions as they consider how to get involved in their community: How many people in your community know who you are and what you do? If they hear the name of your business, what is the brand they associate with it? Is your brand different than any other financial advisor in town? Do you have a unique message and marketing initiative that helps you stand out from the crowded field of financial advisory firms?
Leading a seminar serves two important purposes: First, it establishes you as a thought leader in your area of specialty; second, it puts you in front of a group of prospects that have already expressed interest in your product line. Twenty percent of our survey respondents cited this as an effective prospecting technique – and while it may be tried-and-true, there are plenty of ways to tailor your seminar approach for today’s buyers. Industry coach Kerry Johnson suggests shunning the somewhat dated dinner seminar and instead holding a Social Security seminar designed purely to educate prospects. The overhead will be lower and, in many cases, the conversion of prospects to clients will be higher. Johnson notes: “Since you have taken away the motivation to get a free meal, the attendees are left with solving retirement problems. This is your retirement planning sweet spot.”
It may sound old-school, but cold calling can still work according to 15 percent of our advisors. In fact, picking up the phone beat out sexier methods such as social media (7%) and advertising on the radio or television (5%). Coach Kelley Robertson acknowledges that cold calling is tough, but asserts emphatically that it is not dead. To see results, you must put in the time you would with any other prospecting technique — and, of course, have thick skin. Robertson’s advice to agents: “You need to make a lot of dials. You need to target the right companies. You need a compelling opening. And you need to speak to the right people.”
Just under 15 percent of respondents cited direct mail as an effective prospecting technique — and J. Ryan Parker, general manager of Element Financial Group thinks the number of agents that prospect this way may actually be much higher, while also noting that it should not be a stand-alone prospecting method. Says Parker: “I think a lot of prospecting still revolves around direct mail — more so than people realize [because] seminars are powered by direct mail. This is obviously not the most cost-effective way of marketing yourself; you can probably spend a lot less money doing this on the Internet. But the clients producers are looking to reach, the seniors and the boomers, just aren’t as prone to go to Google and look something up. This is why more of your successful planners are still using direct mail. That said, online needs to be part of every producer’s prospecting strategy because it streamlines the business process. If I get a lead from the Internet, it automatically enters into my CRM, and we can follow-up from there. Internet is absolutely critical for today’s producers.”
The Best Time to Make a Sales Call in 2017
Most salespeople are eager to know the best time to cold call their prospects. It’s an enticing idea: Rather than waiting for a compelling event, researching the buyer, and crafting a personalized message, the rep simply needs to know the best day for cold calling, as well as the best time of day.
Unfortunately for legacy salespeople, this approach doesn’t work anymore. An oft-cited study from the Keller Research Center at Baylor University shows only 1% of cold calls ultimately generate appointments.
The takeaway is, the “best time to make cold calls” doesn’t exist. But it’s a different story for warm calls. If you’ve done your homework and identified a potential good fit, knowing when to pick up the phone can mean the difference between getting the prospect's voicemail -- and getting a meeting.
Five suggestions for when to call buyers in 2017
1) The Best Day for Sales Calls
A study conducted by LeadResponseManagement.org revealed Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days of the week to call prospects.
This finding isn’t completely surprising. After all, people are usually gearing up for the weekend on Friday and aren’t interested in starting a relationship with a salesperson.
On Monday, buyers are transitioning into work mode and planning their upcoming week.
By the middle of the week, people have had enough time to settle into their working week and take care of pressing matters, without your call feeling like an interruption.
2) The Best Morning Time for Sales Calls
Making an early morning sales call lets you connect with prospects before their to-do lists become overwhelmingly long. But timing is still important -- call too early, and no one will answer. Call too late, and your prospects will be busy.
The same LeadResponseManagement.org study found morning sales calls are most productive between the hours of 8 and 9 a.m..
3) The Worst Time of the Day for Sales Calls
What are most prospects doing between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.? That’s right: Eating lunch.
For this reason, reps have the lowest contact rates during lunchtime. Use this time instead to research prospects and prepare for your afternoon calls. (And of course, having lunch yourself.)
4) The Best Afternoon Time for Sales Calls
Reps see the highest engagement rates of the day between 4 and 5 p.m. Most prospects are tying up their projects for the day. This is a great moment to pick up the phone and give your buyer a call. With important work out of the way, your prospective clients will more time to chat and listen to what you have to offer.
5) Call inbound leads within five minutes of receipt
Seeing leads come in is always exciting for sales reps, but the time it takes you to respond to these prospects is crucial. From the same study conducted by LeadResponseManagement.org, the timing of the response played a big part in the success of making contact and qualifying.
The graph above demonstrates how a response time of no more than five minutes after receipt results in a much higher number of qualified leads. After 10 minutes, the number of leads qualified significantly decreases, which shows a quick response will return the best results.
Ultimately, picking the right time to make your sales calls is essential to sales success. While these five rules of thumb are a good place to start, you may find that different strategies work better for your business. Test these approaches and adopt the ones that work for you. You might be surprised to find how many more prospects you can reach with a few simple tweaks.