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All The Right Moves: Placing That First Call to a Prospect

Jul 21, 2016

Emails, websites, digital content…thanks to modern technology, there are many ways to make contact with prospects today without cold calling. And yet, there are very few B2B deals completed in the absence of personal engagement. So as a salesman, how do you know when it’s the right time to call? After the first click thru to your website? Or wait until they visit you again?

Based on the data, our strong suggestion is go ahead and make the call after they’ve engaged the very first time with any information on your website.  There is no digital content that will ever compete with one-on-one personal engagement, where warmth and approachability can be expressed and appreciated.

Be prompt, too. Don’t wait a week. Call the same day they visit your content. Chances are your prospect is visiting your competitor’s website as well, and, like you, their salesman is debating whether to call. So by calling early, you might gain an advantage.

Prepping for the call

Be a Boy Scout: Be Prepared. Preparation includes:

  • Skimming their website - check their media page to see what they think is new and important about their business.
  • Checking any social media accounts - Look for your contact on LinkedIn
  • Formulating three good open-ended questions - questions they can't just answer with a "yes" or "no", such as "What challenges are you experiencing with...." and "What does your company's decision making process look like on this issue?

Then it's time to phone.

Making the Call

When you get past introductions, if the prospect is hesitant, it’s okay to admit you saw they’d read a white paper, or viewed a special offer. Just give them a ‘comfortable couch’ for talking, such as, “Hey I noticed that you, or someone in your organization, read the white paper on our website. I was curious what you thought?”

Even when you sense your prospect is trying to end the conversation, our strong suggestion is to try and squeeze in one more open-ended question. You never know what will spark a great dialogue.

With this method, technology and digital content support your sales efforts, rather than try to replace them.

Following up

 So once you’ve gotten through that first call, how often do you follow-up? Our experience over the last 10 years has shown that a four touch cadence, including sending an email the same day, is a sound core principle, albeit with variables for product and customer size. When you send the email, include a few links to additional, relevant content they might not have seen on your website.  Your sales playbook should provide a few options for that first personal email.

Finally, if you don’t reach them on your first call, try a few more times over a two week period. By doing this, you might actually accelerate the decision-making process, even if your prospect is reluctant to bring the issue to the table with their boss.

A final note: Call your customers!

Post sale, there’s no one more important to slate on your call calendar than your customer.  Even if they purchased a lone item and said they’d never need a thing again, slate a call for some time in the future. First, people change jobs; keeping your database of customer contacts current is vital to your success. Second, company needs change over time – maybe they do need more of your products and services, only they couldn’t remember who you were? You don’t want to lose that business to your cold-calling competition.

When you do call, we can almost guarantee they will be flattered by the personal touch, so even if they have no immediate need for your product or services, they will likely want to help. Which means it's a great time to ask for a referral!

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