By Dan McDade, President & CEO, PointClear
“I called them three times, and they didn’t get back to me so they must not have been interested.”
Have you, a member of your field sales team, or one of your inside reps ever called a prospect a few times without connecting and then given up? The answer is likely “yes” as the temptation is to assume a prospect isn’t interested and move on.
Of all the incorrect sales assumptions we make, this one ranks as one of the most costly in terms of losing valuable opportunities. Consider the following from respected industry sources:
- 25% of the market is in play at any given time.
- 5% of qualified leads end up buying a solution within a year.
- 70% of leads aren’t being followed up by sales.
The phrase, a comedy of errors, comes to mind. The startling contrast between ripe market opportunity and ineffective contact processes would be laughable if the outcome wasn’t so expensive: real deals are being missed and lost to the competition.
To be fair, improved results are tied to a comprehensive and integrated series of best practices that include marketing and sales alignment; service level agreements; shared market and lead definitions; and closed-loop lead tracking.
But along with these, one of the most important processes is the systematic application of an integrated multi-touch, multi-media and multi-cycle contact strategy. This type of approach is required to engage today’s buyers given their hectic schedules and multitasking work styles.
Why? Executives often don’t respond until a need’s priority has escalated. It’s likely that the first few attempts didn’t overlap with the prospect’s need window. Positive outcomes increase when the person calling makes multiple attempts in multiple media across several sales cycles. Let’s take a closer look at these three approach elements.
Multi-touch builds familiarity with busy decision makers and increases the potential of impacting them when the need for a solution is high. Analysis of our program results over the years revealed it is essential to reach prospects with at least twelve individual touches — including a minimum of two email messages.
Why twelve? That's the number of touches, delivered over a period of time through a combination of quality outbound calls, emails, voicemail messages and direct mail needed to achieve the greatest level of response.
Use a smart mix of multiple media. Integrate outbound calls with voice mail messages, personalized email, direct mail and landing pages. Contacts responding to voicemail or email have comprised close to 30% of all leads generated for most of our clients over a period of years.
Perhaps surprisingly, the most frequent responders to voicemail and email have been more senior-level decision makers like C-level and senior VP-level executives. These executives are 2.5 times more likely to respond to a voicemail or reply to an email than subordinates.
Because most prospects buy at more than six months out, there is additional benefit in implementing multiple cycles for marketing campaigns. The initial contact cycle — the first time you touch your market with a combination of twelve phone calls, emails, voicemail and direct mail — will yield only 40- to 50% of the total opportunities. Continuing to touch the same prospects on a regular basis can identify other opportunities.
Here’s an example of this three-pronged approach in action. Working with a global consulting company, we deployed one of our people for a full quarter to make contact with CFOs at the nation's top 50 utilities. The CFO called us back after the 42nd touch and said, "Don't stop calling me… you are my conscience. I have listened to and saved your voicemails, and I have saved some of your emails. I want to talk to you. I have just been extremely busy. Call me back in two weeks on Tuesday at 10:00 AM, and I will take that call.” Two weeks later we generated a high quality opportunity for our client. It closed in five months for $1,000,000,000. Yes, a billion.
When you approach prospects by thinking in multiples — multi-touch, multi-media, and multi-cycle — you multiply results.
Dan McDade is President and CEO of PointClear, LLC, a prospect development firm that helps B2B companies drive revenue by nurturing leads, engaging contacts and developing prospects until they're ready to purchase. The Sales Lead Management Association named Dan one of the 50 most influential people in sales lead management in 2009 and 2010. Dan’s first book, The Truth About Leads, is a practical, easy-to-read book that helps B2B companies focus their lead-generation efforts, align their sales and marketing organizations and drive revenue. He can be reached at email@example.com