An All Too Typical Sales Prospecting Phone Message

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One of many webinars I attend was a lead nurturing webinar recently. I’m always looking for insights, especially about how companies are thinking about content to support their many use cases.

I also like to experience selling from a buyers perspective. I get many sales prospecting calls, but usually for products or services I could care less about. I delete and forget. But this was a topic I’m really interested in. While I’m not a prospect for this company, I think I am an important influencer, and potential referral source for them.

This is the follow up message that was left on my voicemail.

After you listen to this 35 second recorded message (slightly edited to remove identifying marks) — and before you read on — take a moment to write your impressions of the message, and what you would do differently. (Play in separate webpage.)

Now let’s compare.

Message Diagnostic

I wanted to have the opportunity …”  As a result of years of work with a fascinating breakthrough business coaching firm Gap International, I’ve learned that language betrays true intention.

Now I instinctively recoil when people begin their sentences with “I want.”

Next: “… to speak more about the common frustrations that most organizations face …”   OK, now I’m listening. But rather than share an understanding and perhaps perspective about those frustrations, they are left un-mentioned because we want to move quickly into …

“… and how our ‘end-to-end marketing solutions can help alleviate these headaches …”

Pretty much the last thing I’m interested in — and I suspect most people/organizations — are “marketing solutions.” This goes double for cliché ridden “end-to-end” solutions. Within two sentences and one breath I get the pitch for amorphous solutions to frustrations we’ve yet to identify.

But it gets “better”. She’s going to “provide an eight-to-one return on (my) investment.”

I wonder why eight? Five’s pretty good. She must think I’m greedy. Investment in what? What does a “return” look like? How much do I need to spend to get an eight-to-one return? How could she possibly know how that would play out in my environment? My level of care: zero. Her (her company’s) credibility factor: zero.

I think the principle of “being easy to do business with” is foundational these days. She asks me to call her. Yup, I’m just looking for reasons to make more calls! All I have to do to get the solution pitch is dial an 877 number with a five digit extension! I bet she’ll be on the phone. Then we’ll play phone tag. Doesn’t feel like much of a service that is centered on my best interests at this point.

Another principle: “You get treated like the people you sound like.”  (OK, source principle: “you get delegated to the people you sound like.”) When I hear, “I hope you are having a good day,” or “I hope all is well,” AHRG. My bias: another sales person who won’t provide any real value.

And to be clear, I am one of you!

A Different Conversation Approach

One of the most urgent and high interest topics for B2B marketers today is demand management with marketing automation. This is especially true for people who have just spent an hour on a webinar on the subject.  Three plus weeks later I would hope she has that information.

There is SO much to learn about demand management. Optimum marketing automation and demand management results are elusive for many reasons.  I would think it would be easy to get a conversation. I know it would have been with me.

How about a different approach. I’d start with a different goal than to pitch a service and presumably to qualify — probably using BANT techniques.

Recognizing that this is a complex area, that organizations can be in different phases of their evaluation and decision process, my goals would be to:

  1. have an introductory conversation to establish a relationship,
  2. gain knowledge about how the person (company) views their problem (providing important profile information) to determine if I can help, and if so,
  3. earn the right to be in continued communication.

I call this the “come from.” This mindset and thinking changes my intent as well as my approach.

My opener: “You attended our lead management webinar a couple of weeks ago and I was wondering what your motivation was for taking the time to listen to our webinar? I’d welcome your feedback on how we met or missed your expectations.”

My segue: “When I speak with people who have an interest in automating their lead management process, I learn they have different objectives, challenges, and are at different stages of evaluation or execution. I’m wondering what your specific interests are and if I might a good resource for you.”

My offer: “I know most people use webinars for research purposes. We have a lot of additional resources I can provide you based upon your specific interests.”

My call-to-action: “I’ll shoot you an email with a link into my calendar so you can schedule a convenient time for us to spend a few minutes discussing your specific interests. I look forward to an opportunity to meet you.”

Summary Points

I don’t think it has to be hard, and sales professionals don’t have to be perfect.

Key touch point conversations like this need to be designed. I wonder if this was a rep designed call or if the company just doesn’t get it.

Get the intention right. Have an intention appropriate for the specific buyer, the situation and the stage of engagement. Remember: “what’s in it for me?”  the buyer.

Don’t try to make the sale in one call. Use a sales process to guide your thinking, conversations, requests as well as the information you provide.

Start by establishing a relationship, and building trust. The buying/selling sequence must focus on those two elements before even diagnosing business problems or recommending “solutions.”

Buyers buy when they get their questions answered to their satisfaction. Find out how you can help. Use this to determine how the buyer sees the problem, and how they expect to solve it.

Use information and content to help buyers making good buying decisions. See content is an essential, even differentiating part of your offer, and certainly a value component of your selling.

What sales prospecting suggestions would you add or change to my comments?

What techniques have you found useful, either on the receiving end, or those you use?