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Sales prospecting check-up: Is your team using these top skills effectively?

Cathy Schmid
Cathy Schmid
EVP Sales and Client Services / Partner

As a B2B or medtech marketing or sales leader, you know audience engagement and a full pipeline of leads are critical. No matter your sector, your team will have the most focus and highest morale when they are busy closing sales from a reliable stream of qualified leads.

When your metrics fall flat, especially during typical sector or seasonal “booms,” it may be time to evaluate your sales prospecting strategy. Periodically refining your prospecting systems and practices is essential to generate leads effectively and grow sales revenue.

Below are tips to:

  • Establish the foundation of sound sales prospecting
  • Help you capitalize on your in-house staff’s strengths
  • Identify when to outsource critical prospecting tasks to a specialist

When you’re ready for reliable and experienced outsourced lead generation that specializes in medtech and B2B, look to Volkart May. Contact us today to get more leads and grow your sales.

First things first: Prospect vs. lead

Let’s start at the beginning of the sales funnel. If it’s been a while since you’ve defined or refined your target audience, now’s the time to get current.

Prospects are everyone who fits your customer persona(s). It’s smart to update that persona periodically by redefining your audience pain-points and demographics.

It’s essential to revisit your prospect criteria if your company has recently experienced the following:

  • Company or product rebrand
  • Significant leadership changes
  • New product launch
  • Acquisition or merger
  • New market entry
  • Geographic expansion

Prospecting fail: Target in Canada

Though it may seem elementary to perform audience analysis at regular intervals, it’s easy to overlook this step to disastrous results.

When Target attempted to expand its presence into Canada, it made several audience-defining errors, despite initial Canadian shopper excitement that Target was coming to their country.

It turns out that Target failed in delivering a consistent shopper experience to Canadian customers who were already familiar with the Target buying experience in the U.S. 

These inconsistencies included:

  • Product pricing. Target Canada did not live up to its “Expect More, Pay Less” tagline in the eyes of Canadian customers.
  • Product quality and consistency.
  • Distribution. Many store shelves were empty because Target logistics failed to account for functional discrepancies between U.S. and Canadian distribution channels.
  • Customer experience. Store layouts, aesthetics and product choices differed between Canada and the U.S.

Target missed the mark on defining their audience. Carefully creating a similar Canadian customer persona (along with fixing their distribution bugs), could have changed the Target Canada story.

Key criteria for successful prospect personas

We can take the Target example and apply it to the B2B and medtech sectors.  Carefully defined customer personas simplify prospecting. 

Be sure to capture the following characteristics in your customer personas for each product or service you sell:

  • Physical demographics. These typically include company size, location, leadership structure, and product or service type.
  • Pain points. These are the challenges you will solve with your solution, like company or departmental stressors, product or solution needs, budget, inefficiencies and sales goals.
  • Omnichannel marketing preferences. Many B2B decision-makers now look for an experience similar to that of Amazon and other retailers. They want convenience and “wow” from start to finish in the sales process.

Once you’ve updated your customer personas, searching for and finding companies that fit the model becomes more manageable. If you’ve been in business for several years, you may find that your customer persona is much different than it was at company inception.

When a prospect becomes a lead

Once a prospect expresses interest in what you’re selling, they become a lead. The challenge then shifts from making contact to keeping your lead engaged through to close. Finding these leads efficiently and cost-effectively is the true goal of sales prospecting. 

Here are five sales prospecting skills that are critical to success.

Prospecting skills check #1: Don’t fear cold calls

Cold calling is the foundation of sales prospecting. There’s simply no better way to learn about your target audience and identify the right decision-makers to target with further sales and marketing efforts. 

Sadly, most inside sales professionals dislike this practice. However, done right, it produces invaluable information. It helps to reorient your thinking so cold calling is about discovery and investigation rather than endless dials and rejection. 

If you employ an in-house outbound call staff, spend time educating them on your target audience and the target companies you wish to engage as customers. 

Arm your team with smart questions to ask, and a short value proposition that makes your audience more likely to engage in conversation. Be smart about goals as well. 

A cold call seldom yields a sale; its purpose should be identifying gatekeepers and decision-makers within each organization, and gleaning intelligence on the company.

Of course, this is done most effectively with quality CRM software and regular database audits and updates. Be sure your team is updating your target audience information consistently and reliably.

Prospecting skills check #2: No script-reading

A big turn-off for prospects is a stranger on the phone reading a script. Nothing signals disinterest more quickly. For your outbound call campaigns, train your staff in the art of creating a conversation around your company.

Questions and genuine interest in your audience’s business challenges are key. Then, you can share information on the products and services you offer, and how you partner with your customers to solve their problems.

It pays to record your outbound calls so you can continually improve your salesforce’s performance. Supervisors and inside sales staff can listen and learn new techniques. 

Prospecting skills check #3: Define and discover decision-makers

There’s a right way and a wrong way to find and talk to decision-makers. 

First, before ever making a call, clearly define the role of the decision-maker you want to reach. Be aware that titles will vary by organization. Identifying the proper role, such as who manages the facility, buys durable medical supplies or books patient appointments, yields better results.

In one medtech example, target companies could include covered entities in the 340B program. Children’s hospitals, free-standing cancer centers, critical access hospitals and rural referral centers all participate in this federal drug pricing program.

Decision-maker titles in these participating companies include Directors of Pharmacy, 340B Director, VP of Pharmacy, CFO and Pharmacy Manager. What they have in common is the role of managing the 340B program. 

Direct all outbound calls to discovering who holds this role in each organization. It’s an easy ask on the call when you can define the role and share examples of titles.

Prospecting skills check #4: Be persistent

Once you know who the decision-maker is, sales prospecting doesn’t stop. The next step is consistent, polite reach-outs until you make contact with that person.

These can be a mix of calls and outbound tactics like email. Those who do well at sales prospecting know persistence pays off. It may take four, seven or even ten attempts before a call yields a live conversation. 

Try calling later in the day before the close of business, and make the gatekeeper (an administrative assistant or operator) your ally. Keep your messaging brief and to the point, with a focus on the benefits you’re offering or a problem you’ll solve.

Prospecting skills check #5: Know when to outsource sales prospecting

Sometimes, your inside sales team’s time is better spent on lead nurturing and sales closing, making an outsourced lead generation firm a good investment. Outsourcing can also be right when you need to test a new program, or scale up quickly with a large volume of calls. For medtech marketers who often target difficult to reach clinical titles, like physicians, a sales prospecting firm with industry experience can shorten the process and quickly generate qualified leads.

As you evaluate an outsourced firm, look for a company that can:

  • Expertly design and develop prospecting and lead generation programs
  • Train an experienced staff to be excellent brand ambassadors for your company
  • Continually analyze and improve your outbound call campaigns
  • Seamlessly integrate with your CRM system
  • Scale your projects efficiently and effectively

At Volkart May, our proven process of prospecting and lead generation for B2B and medtech companies means your internal staff resources can focus on closing the sale.

Contact us today to put our outbound calling expertise to work for you. 

 

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