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The Sales Review

Learn about emerging best practices, strategies and insights on B2B sales today dedicated for the modern sales organization.

10 Tips, Trick, Tactics to Increasing Sales Opportunities

Posted by Jamie Shanks on Jul 17, 2012 10:39:22 PM

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Increased Sales

Sales Managers understand they need a long-term inside sales strategy, but many times can lose focus and seek the quick win. While the quick win is – well 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 by increasing 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 Company ABC. 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 brown bag lunches and eating at their desk. The economy is too fragile and companies are still operating on skeleton crews – your DM 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. on 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 – simply I’ve developed a cost-per-lead of about $20, and I generate 2-3 new Opportunities A WEEK with Linkedin. Many inside sales reps can barely generate that production with 200+ calls a week – and at $500+ per lead. I can generate this in 30 minutes with well-articulated messages to prospects.

5. Create Your Own Data.com

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 DM is correctly identified as your prospect, date stamp their correct information. Have your team develop a system to identify when data is old, 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 Your 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 1st 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 DM, 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. 3x3 Research in Advance

Most sales reps know to do homework before calling a prospect, but that homework should be fast and 1x. 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.

Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks

About the Author

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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