A few fundamentals can make telephone prospecting, a sales and marketing approach that requires rigorous preparation, effective and efficient. Transforming a simple call into a lasting and personalised exchange cannot be improvised, and can, at times, be a real endurance sport!
Today, in the digital age, decision-makers are highly sought-out and hyper-informed, and sales representatives have an ever-harder time reaching them. However, cold calling is still an effective way to generate leads.
According to a Harvard Business Review study, companies lose about 10% of their customers each year, which equates to about 50% every 5 years! As prospecting is therefore necessary for long-term success, it is important to implement best practices that will be sure to win over new clients and customers.
Collect data and keep your prospect file up to date
It may seem obvious, but this point is worth emphasising: to succeed in telephone prospecting, it is essential to work with a good prospect file. It must be qualified and segmented, but also adapted to your target.
Telephone prospecting is often considered a thankless and time-consuming task. But if it is well thought-out beforehand, the interaction can be simplified and made more fluid. To get the right customer data and make the prospecting process more efficient, it is essential to collect as much information as possible about your target companies.
To do so, leveraging professional social networks like LinkedIn can be key. They are excellent channels for generating qualified prospects looking for specific solutions and they are powerful sources of data on leads with real buying potential.
Before starting, salespeople should at least know the following information about the company they are approaching:
- The address
- The name of the decision-maker, their title/position and full contact details (and, preferably, their direct number to limit potential roadblocks)
- The relevant industry and company size (VSE, SME, etc.)
- The business needs and problem
- Any contacts with competitors, etc.
But be careful, from the first phone call to the following interactions with the prospect, it is essential that your database be updated regularly. For better prospecting management, the ideal solution is to opt for CRM software. With this strategic, easy-to-use tool, you can centralise and store all your contacts and business opportunities in real time. Optimum responsiveness for maximum efficiency!
Curate your sales rationale
Once you have identified the right prospects, you need to make your sales pitch a success. Its preparation is one of the most important phases of telephone prospecting. You must be persuasive and consistent, while making an attractive offer. Your sales pitch must convey a concrete solution to your prospect's problem, providing a real benefit.
Don't lose sight of the fact that today’s digital buyer is not the same as yesterday’s. Modern buyers decide who they want to do business with throughout the entire buying process, so a human connection must therefore be initiated from the first telephone call in order to establish a climate of trust and detect signals that the prospect is ready to buy.
It is only by adapting your pitch to your prospect that you will capture their attention and pique their interest. They want to feel ‘seen’ and listened to. There is no need to knock them out with endless technical explanations. Be clear and concise, listen carefully, and offer real solutions to their problems. To convert them, they must be at the heart of your sales pitch.
Maintain relationships to close sales
Even if your prospect has reacted positively to your offer, nothing is certain yet. To close the business deal, you must follow up.
This step should never be forgotten in the sales process, yet, according to one Hubspot study, many salespeople neglect this task, with 44% of them having stated that they do not follow up after the first sales call. The study also underlines that 80% of sales are only made after at least 5 follow-ups following the first contact!
Hence the importance of detecting and accompanying hot leads to quickly transform them into customers. To be more efficient, but also to save time, a CRM tool is essential. Indeed, by reinforcing your strategy with this helpful software category, you will be better organised as you manage follow-ups. With just a click, you can access the prospect file, find the complete history of your previous telephone exchanges, and so on.
With CRM software, you’ll be in a position to fully evaluate the maturity of a given prospect and send out personalised reminders at the right time. Everything you need to effectively organise the time of your sales team is included: task management options to schedule actions to be taken in relation to an account, agenda synchronisation, shared calendars, etc. Moreover, as the collaborative tool par excellence, CRM platforms ensure that all lead data is shared with all teams, in real time!
Although telephone prospecting can be a difficult activity for salespeople, it remains an effective means of attracting and converting leads, closing sales and building loyalty. By using CRM software, commercial prospecting (an essential phase in the life of a company) is facilitated for better management of your prospect/customer relationship.
To get an expert perspective on the matter, we recently spoke to Pauline Brun, Head of Sales at Ringover, who gave us some best practices for successful telephone prospecting.