By Lauren Bailey, President, Factor 8
Do you feel like you’re on a constant treadmill of unreturned voicemail? Try dividing your approach into two phases:
- Capturing contacts: Secret agent-style hunting for information to help you get that first connection with a decision maker (DM)
- The remainder of the sales cycle: Getting from conversation number one with the DM to “Sold!”
During your normal sales cycle, you’re trying to connect with the DM, schedule callbacks, and talk benefits (you know the drill!). But when you’re capturing contacts, you should intentionally avoid the DM and talk to others in the DM’s company. If your account book is like most, you’re trying to get or confirm one or more of the following:
- DM’s full name and title
- DM’s direct phone number and email address
- An interesting tidbit to create your opening
- Qualification information (don’t wait to connect with a DM to qualify the account!)
Here’s how it works: Call the main number (not the DM’s direct number, even if you have it) and get connected to a live body. It might be a secretary, office manager or anyone that answers. Get creative and keep the person on the phone until you get at least two pieces of information, but never waste a live body! If they’re still talking, keep asking. Take comfort in the fact you can push a little, because he or she isn’t your ultimate contact and won’t remember your name a minute later.
Make your questions conversational
We’ve found that by being conversational and avoiding sales or industry jargon, we can ask two to three questions before our “live body” starts to feel edgy and ask why we’re asking. If you can’t match these results, try rewriting your questions. For example, if you’re selling computers and want to qualify the opportunity, don’t ask, “How many PCs do you have in all locations?” Instead, try, “So do most of you work on computers throughout the day? How many people work there? How many locations do you have?”
Target their sales department
Where will you have the most luck getting the information you need? Try the sales department. Someone there is almost always eager to pick up the phone!
Here’s how this sounds:
Sales Rep: “Thanks for calling ABC Company. How can I help you?”
You: “Oh, I got Sales? Well, maybe that’s a good thing. I hope you can help me! I’m in sales, too. How long have you worked at ABC company?”
Sales Rep: “About a year. It’s pretty good here.”
You: “Cool. I’m actually in charge of your account, so I guess I’m your sales rep!
But I need some help. I’m supposed to call your IT Director, David Adams, today but I don’t think he works there anymore. Any chance you’d take 30 seconds to check your company directory for me?”
Sales Rep: “I guess. What was the name?”
You get the idea. No one is more sympathetic to your plight than a fellow sales rep, so find one. Check numbers on websites, use the automated voicemail, and leave your own voicemail for a callback. Let them know that you’re also in sales and ask for their help. If there’s an inbound queue, you can call a few times and get different reps!
During this game of secret agent, count on dialing up to five times per account, being disconnected at least once, getting lost in a phone system, and even ruffling a few feathers. But here’s the thing: You don’t have to sweat any of it because you’re not trying to impress a decision maker (yet). Try it out for a few days and you’ll probably enjoy one or more of these benefits:
- Less frustration
- Faster account qualification and disqualification (less wasted time later)
- More information that can help you sell
- Direct contact information that gets you off the voicemail treadmill
- Increased confidence – you’re pushing for information and getting it!
- Improved dials and talk time
- Information about additional contacts and/or decision makers
- A little more fun at work
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