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.
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Most companies spend between 5% to 15% of revenue on sales. Learn the core components of sales excellence to ensure optimal usage of that investment.
5 Keys to Achieve Excellence in Sales
1.) Identify the right opportunities
It all begins with understanding how to skate to where the puck is going, to use a hockey analogy. What we find with clients a lot of times is that they’re very focused on where the business is today — what segments and what customers are producing the revenue.
The key is to go where the opportunity is going to be next year and the year after. Companies that are able to identify and map out opportunities — and then align their go-to-market accordingly — are much more successful.
A great example of skating to where the puck is going is Google. It monitors about 140 million businesses on a real-time basis. It’s also done the analytics to figure out what variables are associated with a propensity to buy digital advertising.
Google then monitors those variables, and when it sees an increased probability of purchase by a customer or by a potential customer, it targets them specifically. This method has led to massive sales productivity for the company over the last few years.
2.) Match the right opportunities with the right people
In order to get the right people and the right partners in the right spot, there are three things you need to keep in mind. One is the go-to-market architecture (the mix of routes to market you use). The second is the sales planning process to then allocate people to those routes. The third is to do the skills assessment to make sure that those folks are equipped to win the deals when they have the opportunity.
A great example of getting the right skills in the right people at the right time is an insurance call center client we had. We identified a 3.4x difference between the lowest- and highest-performing sales reps. We then dug into what was driving that performance — things like call cancellation handling. We used that information to build sales capability and hiring plans. That resulted in a 30% increase in sales against baseline in the pilot locations where we applied it.
3.) Deliver the perfect customer pitch
Once you have identified opportunities and you have the right people and partners aligned to those opportunities, you want to make sure that those sales folks or partners deliver the right pitch. And you shouldn’t leave that to chance. You should apply science and process to it.
There’s a few ways that you can do this. The first is to segment the customer base so that you know the different needs of different segments. The second is to equip your sales force with the listening skills to be able to identify what we call the fingerprint of an opportunity, so they can match the customer to value proposition.
The third is to provide support to the sales force in the form of predictive analytics, next product to buy, or segment typing tools that help the sales force understand what to pitch, especially in companies that have complex portfolios.
Then you need to have marketing and sales be best friends. Marketing needs to be able to help sales in the form of either the right collateral at the proposal stage, or lead generation and demand generation. But matching that marketing investment to the right spots in the sales funnel is critical.
And then finally, rigorous account planning. So at the end of the day, nothing beats having a very deliberate plan of what we’re going to sell to whom, within an organization, and doing that pre-planning to be ready for action in the field.
As you think over how to create the right pitch, there’s a great example from a high-tech client of mine who was very much a product feature/function-selling sales force. The company has since evolved into more of a business outcome/solution-oriented sales force.
It went through a full revamp of its marketing umbrella in terms of what value propositions the company was going to lead with. The company then trained its sales force to have inquiry skills to be able to uncover customer needs, and supported the sales force with a number of tools to be able to enable the matching, such as big video libraries.
And then the company had very rigorous account planning. And all of this resulted in the company being repositioned in the eyes of customers and even the investor community.
4.) Do all of the above consistently
If you think about sales forces, they’re by definition dispersed across geographies, product lines, and routes to market. At the same time, if you’re going to drive sales excellence, especially in large, complex companies, you have to have a degree of centrally driven initiatives and change.
The way companies that are good at this go about it is to invest in sales operations to build a set of capabilities that allow them to drive the different elements of sales excellence consistently throughout dispersed geographies.
What we find often is that companies will actually underinvest in that infrastructure, because it’s seen as non-quota carrying, and therefore every time there’s a downturn, those are the folks who get cut.
Yet our research actually shows that the best-performing companies invest heavily in sales operations. What we’ve also found is the best performers typically have about one sales ops person for every one person in the field. So, it’s a significant investment in that back-end infrastructure.
What all is included in sales operations? There’s all of the customer insight and opportunity mapping piece of it. There’s the sales strategy and planning component. There is sales capability building, compensation design and delivery, and then sales technology. Those are all key components.
5.) Build the right operating model
In order to drive sales excellence in a company — especially large, complex companies that are operating globally — you need to be able to get in front of the right opportunities at the right time, with the right people, deliver the right pitch, and be able to execute the sales operations so that you are consistent and effective.
But wrapped around all of the above is an operating model that allows you to be able to execute and make the decisions you need to make on an ongoing basis. And some of the decisions that you need to make under the commercial operating model are the degree of centralization versus decentralization.
We think the best model is one where you have a central organization that develops strategy and guidelines, orchestrates the planning process, and then leads the performance management; with regions then doing the deep operational planning, and countries executing.
The second big decision area is around roles and responsibilities across geographies, products, and segments. This is to make sure that once you’ve actually planned, you can make decisions in quarter.
The last big decision is around sales forecasting. There are a lot of companies that fall into situations where they have multiple groups forecasting, and it can get extremely burdensome and confusing. Having clarity around who is going to forecast is another seemingly simple but actually very important issue in terms of an operating model.
Tags: sales advice
Your competitor might have a better product or a better price. You might believe that gives them a competitive advantage, but it doesn’t have to. You can tilt the playing field in your direction.
Work Ethic: You can outwork your competitor. Honestly, it isn’t really going to be all that difficult to do. Most people do what is required of them, not what they need to do to succeed. Your commitment to out-hustle your fiercest competitors alone is enough for you to win. Do the work they won’t do. Do that work when they are sleeping.
People Skills: A person with better people skills can develop the relationships that level the playing field—and level their competitors. The ability to connect, the fact that you are likeable, and the fact that you care can create a preference. All things being equal, being good with people is a serious advantage.
Business Acumen: A better student of business makes a better salesperson. By educating yourself on your business, your client’s business, and the economy more generally, you are likely to know how to create greater economic outcomes. Greater business knowledge and experience is a competitive advantage.
Trustworthiness: Following up on your commitments creates a sense of trust. So does knowing what you are talking about. Being client-focused and working as if you are already part of your client’s decision-making team creates a gap between you and any competitor that doesn’t generate the same level of trust.
Patient Persistence: The willingness to stay the course long after it seems a lost cause levels the playing field, especially when it comes to winning your dream clients. There is a strong advantage in outlasting your competitors. Patient persistence doesn’t mean you hang back. It means you keep taking action over time and, eventually, you win.
Better Sales Skills: Knowing how to sell will never hurt you. Sales acumen is still incredibly important in creating a competitive advantage. Winning by intention instead of through a series of happy accidents is what separates the professionals for the amateurs, and it can tip the balance in your favor in a contest.
Desire to Win: There is no accounting for the desire to win. It is the kind of intangible that appears to be some kind of voodoo. There is something about heart, guts, and the will to win that gives someone who is fighting above their weight class an advantage in a contest.
Now is a great time to think about some cross-selling ideas you can implement with your current clients and newly acquired ones.
Below are some great ideas to consider when cross-selling.
29 Ideas to Cross-Sell More Insurance to Current Clients
1) Know the Two Types
Did you know there are two distinct types of Cross Selling situations?
Prospects who already own the product - These people already bought the coverage from a competitor but you’re trying to get the business with your agency.
The key with them is repetition, collecting the x date, good follow-up and selling the benefits of your agency.
Prospects who DO NOT already own the product - These people don’t currently have the type of coverage you’re trying to sell them.
The key with them is product awareness, education, creating a need, identifying interest, and then selling.
These aren’t complete opposites, but they do require different approaches and sales tactics.
If you’re currently treating all cross-sale prospects the same, take a few moments to think about how each one requires a different approach and how you can address it best.
2) Develop an Established Cross-Selling System
It’s great if you read my articles and get a few ideas to implement here. That’s why I write the darn things.
The trouble is that most agents “think” they’re going to use a few new ideas, some of them really do, but very few make changes to the procedures and systems they use in their agency to make process improvements last.
The only way to create lasting success is to establish formal systems for processes in your agency like cross selling.
And this article is the perfect resource to help you put something like that together. Use it and do it!
You don’t have to write a manual, just make a list of what you want to do in each of the most common situations and share it with your staff.
3) Identify the Target Product(s) For Each Customer
Assuming your agency doesn’t specialize in specific lines of insurance, there are probably at least 4 different products that each of your customers could also buy from you.
And there are probably a bunch more that aren’t even relevant to each client.
Find a way to prioritize the best products to cross-sell each client and get this information front and center for your sales and customer service folks.
4) Establish a Tracking System
If your plan is to remember which products are the best cross-sale opportunities for each client, or to just always cross-sell the same one or two lines to everyone you’re not cross-selling efficiently.
Ideally, you’d be able to pull up any of your client’s accounts and see, at a glance, what products are the best cross sale opportunities for them. Having information like this top of mind when you’re looking at a client’s account will make a huge impact in how often your salespeople bring up the cross sale conversation.
In addition, it’s also great if you could pull up a list of all the clients who are prospects for each type of insurance. This is helpful for email, direct mail, or other campaigns that are oriented around awareness of your different product lines.
While we’re at it, you’re also going to need a way to keep track of X-dates for each month.
5) Handle Immediate Needs First
Be careful not to push cross-sales too hard during an initial sale.
It’s fine to plant seeds, but your prospects aren’t remotely interested in buying a second product from you until they know you can take care of the first one.
I’ve witnessed a lot of agents pushing too hard for additional lines when it’s clearly obvious the prospect only has one thing on their mind.
Respect your prospect, listen to your prospect, and put their immediate needs first.
Everyone wants to start a business and increase sales as their business grows. "The key is not to call the decision maker. The key is to have the decision maker call you." - Jeffrey Gitomer
In this article, I will list out 25 of the most effective sales techniques anyone can implement in their business to increase sales and make more profits. Increasing sales volume is not just enough. You need to increase profits as well.
Strategy 1: Use Content Marketing
A few years back, when you had a product or service to sell what did you do to get the word out? You tried press releases, television ads, paper ads, cold calls, banner ads, display hoardings and any other means you could afford. Business went to those who had the largest marketing budgets.
Fast forward to present day, people are no longer paying attention to the thousands of marketing messages that they come across each and every single day. With internet usage on the rise and people becoming more aware, all of these traditional marketing approaches are weakening day-by-day.
Individuals who embrace relationship marketing has already understood the power of content marketing. As compared to traditional methods of marketing, content marketing means getting found by prospective customers rather than trying to push your product or service to the uninterested masses.
With content marketing, there is a host of benefits:
You should embrace content marketing, not just for the benefits. Although it takes time, it’s what works very well now, and probably the only marketing technique that will work in the future.
Strategy 2: Use Upsells Effectively
If you are not using upsells, you are leaving money on the table. How many times have you ordered fries just because the sales guy asked you “would you like fries to go along with it?” or perhaps you were given a discount on something when you already made a purchase?
Upsells are very useful to increase sales. Once they buy from you and are in a buying mood, it’s easier to close an additional and related sale.
Strategy 3: Create a Product / Solution Which Has Demand
"Supply always comes on the heels of demand." – Robert Collier
This is a no brainer. Understand what your customers want. Is there some product already in the market that delivers the solution to your prospective client? If not, provide it.
If there is already a product or a solution, try to think of a better way to satisfy the needs of the customer. This can be in the form of a better quality product. You can even bring about a twist in the actual offering to make your product more attractive.
William J. Howery is a former Air Force Intelligence Officer. He retired in 2012 as a Lieutenant Colonel and began his career as an insurance agent with Physicians Mutual that same year. He has a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Nebraska at Omaha and a Master of Business Administration from Norwich University. He is currently enrolled in the Certified Financial Planner ® course at Syracuse University. Will speaks near-fluent German, is married to a native German and has a 2½-year-old daughter at home.
Why do so many salespeople refuse to learn new prospecting strategies and change sales tactics that don’t work? Change is the only way to grow and excel, so why not follow the path to the highest commissions, fastest closes, best meetings and most powerful relationships?
Influence. If you want to become your dream clients’ trusted advisor, you need to be able to influence them. You need people to believe you’re someone worth following, someone worth trusting, someone worth doing business with.
Seniors are by far the fastest growing market segment in the United States. It’s also one of the most lucrative. According to the latest U.S. census, this demographic comprises 37 percent of the total U.S. population and will grow to 45 percent this year. Seniors also possess approximately $1.6 trillion of all the disposable income in the country and have a combined household net worth of around $19 trillion. They also spend a cool $7 billion online each year.
It’s easy to build trust when you have the opportunity to connect with customers in person. You can look into their eyes, read their expressions and interact on a personal level. Even on the phone, you can read a customer’s tone of voice and react accordingly. But building trust online is a different story—not necessarily more difficult, just different.