10 Tips to Increase Sales Opportunities

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks

Sales Opportunities

Although most sales managers understand the need for a long-term inside sales strategy,they often still need in many cases the quick wins too. While the quick win can be viewed by some as “putting lipstick on a pig” a quick win is still a quick win. I’ve compiled a list of 10 tasks you can implement tomorrow that will have a quick (90 day) impact on your business and increase sales opportunities. These are in no particular order

1. Collect Direct Extensions

Why have your sales reps navigate through the labyrinth of phone trees and gatekeepers EVERY time they call a prospect. While that’s a pain, here is the ROI killer – for every 1% of your database that has direct extensions, studies show up to a 2 meetings generated PER WEEK growth rate. The rational is simple, decision-makers have caller ID and know when a call is coming through the switch board. Who calls through the board… people they don’t know. A direct extension is a connection directly into their universe. How do you get a direct extension? A. Ask reception before they transfer “in case we get cut off” B. hit *6 when in the phone directory of an Audix system, after spelling the prospects name it will tell you their extension C. Ask for “Accounts Receivable”, every company wants to get paid, then apologize for the incorrect transfer to the random accountant and ask to be transferred to your prospect, but make sure to ask for their direct extension “in case we get cut off”.

2. Calling Times of the Day

It’s amazing how often sales reps need to be reminded of optimum calling times, but here they are

  • Call between 8-9 a.m. – use time zones to your advantage, if you reside in EDT, call your prospect first thing, then CDT the next hour, MDT after, then PDT last. You spent your entire morning taking advantage of prime connection times in each time zone.
  • Lunch – welcome to 2012, when senior executives are bringing brownbag lunches and eating at their desk. The economy is too fragile and companies are still operating on skeleton crews – your Decision Makers will be at their desk.
  • After 5 p.m. – again use time zones to your advantage.

3. Email Times of the Week I was talking to a leading marketing automation expert about this topic, and I mentioned that 6:30 a.m. Monday’s was an amazing time to distribute email campaigns. He stated “Yes, very high open rates, but very low conversion rates”. The thought is the prospect saw your email at the top of their Inbox, opened it at 8:30 a.m. when they came to the office, but was too busy to respond Monday morning. His suggestion – Sunday night at 7 p.m. – it has the same high open rate (top of Inbox), yet you are catching senior execs at their computers Sunday night planning their work week. They are in the process of planning and can tend to your marketing message.

4. LinkedIn InMail is Your New Best Friend

If you don’t know the power of LinkedIn InMail you’re missing out. We’ve developed a simple system that generates a cost-per-lead of about $20, and can generate 2-3 new Opportunities A WEEK with LinkedIn InMail. Many inside sales reps can barely generate that production with 200+ calls a week – and at $500+ per lead. We can generate this in 30 minutes with well-articulated messages to prospects.

5. Create your own

Simple statistic – the average CRM’s data deteriorates at a rate of 5% a month! Yes, that’s 5% of your data becomes obsolete because of job movement, firing, hiring, etc. Your solution is to create a simple verification date on your data. Once a Decision Maker is correctly identified as your prospect, date stamp their correct information. Have your team develop a system to identify when data is old and trigger an activity to have that information updated, as data is king.

6. Start Using Lead Scoring and/or Prospecting Grades

If you are using Marketing Automation, Lead Scoring is imperative. If not, create a button in your CRM so your sales reps can grade the prospect from A to E (like school). This will help them quickly filter through prospects and identify whom they should spend the majority of their efforts on. Don’t leave it to Notes, Tasks, Etc. in the CRM to segment hot prospects from deadwood.

7. Analyze Pass Information to Determine You’re Diminishing ROI

This is critical, but one of the most difficult tasks for any sales team – measuring Sales Velocity! This is the science behind understanding the time between sales cycle “gates” ie. Contact-to-meeting booked time, demo-to-proposal time. Your CRM will provide you half the information, but use all the empirical evidence you can to understand the MEDIAN dates between 1 contact and opportunity created. Or further down the sales cycle is Opportunity Created to Won Deal. Map this out in days and come up with a timeline – any prospect that is taking much longer than this MEDIAN timeline, is probably costing your sales reps more time and energy than their worth. In fact, a new prospect is probably more lucrative at this point that an old lead. Give your team the evidence it needs to cut loose old leads.

8. Speed to Response

Nothing bothers me more than sales reps who decide to call inbound leads on their schedule. Most sales reps have no idea that in software sales, 70% of all sales are awarded to the 1st company that responds. Also, there is a 100x lost probability of connecting live with that Decision Maker, and having a favourable response, if you’re not calling them back in 1 hour. Even for non-urgent inbound leads, every web lead, webinar attendee/non-attendee and white-paper download should have a touch-point in 24 hours. You’ll be astonished at the results.

9. Call Frequency

The average sales rep calls a prospect 1.4x, yet multiple studies show that not until call 6+ is there a significant ROI. How have sales reps missed this? Make sure your sales reps are campaigning – pick a company and call 3-4 people in that organization 6-8 times over the next 2+ weeks. Your company needs to know good, bad or ugly where that account stands. I hate when reps say “I don’t know where they stand”.

10. Research 3×3 in Advance

Most sales reps know to do homework before calling a prospect, but that homework should be fast and done once. Sales reps need to digest 3 trigger events from an account ie. (competitive products used, change in management, new client signed) to use a catalyst in their opening call statement. Also, that homework is done during “call planning hours” which will not affect their “call campaigning hours”. Stop your reps from doing research on each account before each call – build a list the night before, with all research/trigger information, then call, call, call the next day.

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