Making sales prospecting calls takes skill and tenacity, especially when you’re trying to establish a new territory or work a new list. Business development representatives often start with very little information—sometimes just a company name and location—and need to work their way through a number of calls before connecting with the ultimate decision-maker.
At Volkart May, our professional lead generation callers make hundreds of calls a day to B2B companies and healthcare facilities. Last year alone, we connected with 58,000 different decision-makers on behalf of our valued clients.
As a result, we’ve learned what works (and what doesn’t) when it comes to reaching business decision-makers.
Know the profile of your ideal buyer
Reaching more decision-makers on sales calls starts by knowing exactly who your ideal buyer is. It sounds simple, but a surprising number of companies don’t document this basic market intelligence. This causes their sales team to “wing it” and be less effective on outbound calls.
Instead, look at your current customer base or recent closed sales:
- Who made the ultimate purchase decision?
- What was that person’s title and role in the organization?
It’s smart to compare decision-makers across companies of various sizes and industries, looking for patterns. For example, when selling accounting software to small businesses, the owner or president could be the buyer. At larger corporations, however, a director or vice president of finance might have the same level of purchasing authority.
Next, identify others who play a role in the sales process. The more expensive and complex your product or service, the greater the likelihood that technical buyers or a buying committee will be involved. Cultivating relationships with these individuals can help you reach the ultimate decision-maker and close a sale.
Finally, figure out what procurement’s role is in the final buying decision. While the business development team probably won’t start their sales prospecting calls with the purchasing team, having them on board will be essential to a closed sale.
Tips to find and engage B2B and healthcare decision-makers
Once you know who your decision-maker will be, it’s time to hit the phones. Our professional lead generation call center relies on these and other best practices. Using them consistently helps our trained business development team engage more decision-makers with calls that convert to qualified leads and appointments.
Navigate the phone system
It’s common to reach the automated phone menu on your first call attempt, which requires figuring out the options to reach a live person. If it’s not readily apparent how to get to the right department, strive for a live person of any kind. Then, kindly ask for help—including a transfer to the role you need to reach. Remember to be polite, patient and thankful; everyone is busy and making a good first impression will help your efforts.
Ask for the role, not the name
Few prospect lists have all the relevant information on your potential buyer. (If they did, cold calling would be easy!) Instead, most sales reps need to call a main number and then transfer to a specific individual. Once you reach a receptionist or live operator, ask for the role: “I’d like to speak to the person in charge of _______.” This gives you flexibility in case you’re told that person is unavailable or out-of-office; you can follow up with a request for another person on their team.
Call at different times of day
Knowing a little about your target decision-maker’s typical day will help you get through. Busy executives often come in early, stay late, and work weekends to stay caught up. Other decision-makers reserve their lunchtime for emails and appointments. Varying the days of the week and the times you call gives you more opportunity. You can use this approach across time zones to maximize your productivity.
The more senior the decision-maker you’re trying to reach, the more likely they’ll have an assistant whose job includes managing calls and appointments. Reaching this person means you’re doing well—you’re one step away from your target decision-maker. Here, it’s best to tailor your approach to the situation, knowing it’s rare for an assistant to live-transfer an obvious sales call to the boss.
Instead, try and gather information, such as an email or mailing address, and offer something of value that you can send as a first step. Then, use subsequent calls to work your way to the ultimate buyer. If you’re repeatedly turned down by an assistant, consider asking for a transfer to someone else in the company with input to the purchase. Often, it takes building lateral relationships first to establish credibility, before staff will connect you with the ultimate buyer.
Take good notes
Reaching decision-makers on sales calls can take repeated effort. To save time, document your steps so you’ve got an advantage on subsequent calls. For example, if you learned pressing “2” rather than “0” reaches a live operator in the company phone system, or that you already tried the extension for the director of operations and no one answered, this information grounds your next attempt without repeating the same options. It’s also critical when more than one sales rep will be working the account at the same time.
Share tips among the team
The more sales prospecting calls you make, the more you’ll learn about what works and what doesn’t in your specific sales territory or industry. Pooling this knowledge with other members of the sales team helps everyone improve. Contests and incentives can also reward business development reps who consistently achieve their goals or connect with hard-to-reach decision-makers.
Make enough call attempts
Even with the best approach, it’s unlikely you’ll reach your ultimate decision-maker after just one call. Building enough time into your schedule for multiple calls—sometimes as many as six or more—boosts your results.
Add cold calling capacity with outsourced sales solutions
If in doubt about your results, or if your company simply lacks capacity to connect with business buyers and decision-makers, engaging the experts is a great option. Professional lead generation contact centers like Volkart May excel at sales prospecting calls.
For every medtech and B2B client we work with, we collaborate to establish a campaign plan, then train a dedicated team of callers. It takes only a few days of live outbound calling before you can see results.