Building a funnel

One of the main enduring discussion topics between sales executives in the US is how does one generate leads and momentum for a sales team. The process of lead generation has been fine tuned over the years in to an art form that employs a whole services segment. How did all of this come about?

During the crazy dot-com years making a sale was considerable easier than today and highly paid IT sales executives became complacent. Making a cold call was seen as a waste of the high salaried executive’s time… executives were the fast paced closers. This gave life to the whole profession of Inside Sales Representative, whose only purpose in life was to generate meetings for the high flying closers. This was not always so and today’s sales managers are again searching for the rare bread of self supporting hunter killer.
I have done my fair share of cold calling and it sucks! I don’t think I have ever met a person that enjoyed cold calling, but it is a vital daily task if one is looking to succeed in sales. At the end of the day it is all about probabilities and volume. By planning and perfecting your process one can increase the probability of success.

I am going to share with you my process:

Phase 1: Value Articulation – in a cold call scenario you only have seconds to gain the interest of the listener and to buy yourself more time to have a meaningful discussion. It is vital that your basic value proposition is as sharp as a surgical laser. Don’t pitch technology… pitch business value in an industry context. Being everything to everyone is being nothing to no-one.

Phase 2: Cold Call List – when you know what you are selling and to whom you need to build a list that you can ruthlessly execute like the hunter killer machine that you are. Lists can be bought and self generated from publicly available information. I personally am yet to find a perfect list that I could just buy. The best lists are owned by media publications and trade associations. The latter are the cheaper and the more focused. For me if there is an association, then there is also a definable market. I also use services such as Hoovers, Harte-Hanks, Jigsaw, LinkedIn and public info of the web to build by lists.

Phase 3: Cold Call Script – what will you say after your value prop laser dazes the suspect giving you an opening to tell your story? What qualifying questions will you ask to optimize the discussion? How will you counter objections? Practice, practice and practice… because its practice that makes perfect!

Phase 4: Using Media – I like to do an email blast before a call for added name recognition. Repetition, repetition and repetition. Its all about getting your brand noticed and getting it imprinted into the mind of the suspect so that it rises above the onslaught of mass marketing in general. The email "blurb" should be easy to write after phases 1-3. If you are still finding it hard, then start from phase one.

Phase 5: Cold Calling – this is where we get into the "creative" side of cold calling. How do you get past the switch or the over protective secretary. People are more inclined to be interviewed for a study or to get an invitation to have free food, than to hear a sales pitch. All is fair in love and war… and cold calling. Ruthless execution! Vary your calling times to accommodate different types of daily schedules. Don’t call on a Monday morning. Call on sunny days, when people are in a good mood. Call 3-5 times per person. Leave varying messages bringing your value alive from different perspectives.

OBS! What is the most important goal of a cold call? To get a follow on action, whether its Webinar attendance, a meeting or a follow on call. If you don’t have a follow on you don’t have anything.

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