Simplify and Shorten Your Sales Cycle: Part One
Last week, we hosted a webinar on how to shorten your sales cycle featuring SalesFolk CEO Heather R. Morgan and NewVoiceMedia’s VP of Sales and Customer Success, Paul Turner. Sharing anecdotes about how they optimize sales efforts across the pipeline, Paul and Heather tackled questions on a range of prospecting topics – from how often and when to make a sales call/email, to which technology solutions can help you close more deals. The insight-packed hour yielded so many great tips that we’ve compiled them into a two-part blog series. In part one, we’ll explore how to create messages that stand out in crowded voicemail and email inboxes, and how to craft a proper sales cadence strategy.
Getting customers’ attention in a noisy world
As Paul pointed out during the webinar, the days of traditional cold calling are history.
“We don’t talk about cold calls anymore,” he said. “In B2B, we talk about a telephone call that takes place after we’ve warmed up a prospect.”
Social media, social marketing and email provide the tools to warm your prospects and ensure they are ready to take your calls. However, the sales and marketing automation tools sales reps are using to send mass emails may be doing more harm than good in many cases. Though mass emails can be successful when they’re highly targeted, the bulk of these messages is crowding your prospects’ inboxes, and it’s more important than ever for your messages stand out.
“The more you understand about who you’re targeting — your buyer personas, your ideal customer profile — the more effective your messages will be,” Heather said. “Think about your ideal customer’s title, their industry, their company size. Are they hiring or using a particular type of software? Any indicator that helps you understand the what that person is thinking about will help you craft your message and subject line in a way that will get through to them.”
Also, think about what other messages may be in their inbox and how you can create a subject line that will make them want to read your email immediately.
Email dos and don’ts
Heather’s critique of several emails that Paul saved from his own inbox, yielded the following tips:
- SalesFolk research has found that capitalizing every word in your subject line lowers your open rate. Capitalize proper nouns only.
- Don’t use bulleted or numbered lists in emails. Based on SalesFolk’s research of more than 100,000 emails, using lists in sales prospecting emails lowers the open rate. “They tend to look more like mass marketing emails, and from a behavioral psychology perspective, there is an importance of focus,” Heather said. “People are easily distracted, and having one clear point that is fleshed out and concise at the same time will always be more compelling than a list.”
- Stay away from “my,” “me,” “I” statements. “Your profile caught my eye on LinkedIn….” “My company does XYZ…” “I decided to send you an email rather than calling you on the phone…”
- Don’t fill your emails with product features. Instead, make the benefits of what you’re offering clear, and be sure to establish credibility. Include a customer use-case. Give your prospect a reason to trust you and respond.
A common question Paul and Heather hear from inside sales reps is, “What’s the right number of touches?” In other words, how many times should a rep reach out to a prospect to get a response?
In B2B sales, you’re going to get voicemail seven to eight times out of 10, Paul said, and giving up is not the right thing to do. He recommends seven or eight call attempts before you “No-Op” a lead, and leaving voicemails should be part of your sales strategy.
After running dozens of tests totaling more than 1 million emails, SalesFolk found that eight is the ideal number of emails to send to cold prospects to get a response. One-third of your responses will come from emails five through eight. So, if you only send four emails, you will miss out on a response from third of your leads.
“When you’re thinking about a particular customer, you usually will have a pretty good idea of what they’re likely to be interested in,” Heather said. “But it’s not the same for everyone. Just because one message didn’t get a response, doesn’t mean the person you sent it to wouldn’t be interested in talking to you or buying from you. It just means you haven’t found the right message to connect with that particular person yet.”
Paul agrees. “Don’t think that because you are not getting a response, your prospect is not reading your emails or listening to your voicemails,” he said. “Don’t repeat yourself. Change the message slightly the next time you reach out.”
When to reach out
“There is absolutely a right time of day to make sales calls,” Paul said. “But it will be unique to your business and your market. By logging your calls properly in a system and doing an analysis of the data, you can improve your chance of having a meaningful conversation by a third because you can identify and plan your calls for the times of day when you are far more likely to get a response.”
Heather echoed the importance of testing when finding the right time to send an email. “Every industry and buyer persona that you’re selling to might be different,” she said. “Always test timing for yourself. You need to test the same messages at different times with a statistically significant number of people.”
She recommended sending the eight emails three to seven days apart (calendar days, not business days). You want to reach out at least once a week, but not more than twice a week. Avoid Mondays, and make sure you’re not sending a message on a holiday or before a big holiday week. In general, you’ll have better luck on Thursday and Friday.
Timing also depends on the typical sales cycle for your market. Do customers buy within a week? Or a year? After attempting a call and leaving a voicemail, Paul recommends automatically scheduling a call for the next day, but at a different time than the previous day’s call. Then try in a couple days, and then a couple of weeks. Additionally, Paul flagged the following don’ts when following up with prospects.
- Don’t forward the same email you previously sent with just a little additional text added to the top. This screams laziness.
- Don’t say, “I didn’t hear back from you, maybe…” This language is presumptive.
- And don’t say, “Let me know if you are not interested, and I will stop bothering you…” Here, you’re basically acknowledging that you’re bothering someone because you have nothing helpful to say.
You also don’t want to miss part two of our blog series (coming soon!), in which Paul and Heather discuss creating a sense of urgency in sales messages, qualifying prospects, overcoming objections to a sale and using technology to your advantage. You can listen to the full webinar recording here.