If you've got an inside sales team that is not cutting the mustard with appointment setting, if your internal results aren't there, it's time to think about your department the way a professional appointment setting company does. I surveyed a couple of our best appointment setting BDRs in London
and here are their tips
- Work from good lists. Don't download 5000 names and expect to stay focused. Pick 500 good names--perfect titles. Then set out for focused activity.
- Sharpen the pitch. You've probably only got 10 seconds to say hello, then 30 seconds to get permission to keep talking. Use the next 3 minutes wisely. Don't over-pitch.
- Dials = Meetings. It's been said that the average inside sales rep makes 70 dials a day. Well the average Green Leads appointment setting black belt makes 200. Dials = Meetings.
- Sell the appointment. Never forget the purpose of the call--to set appointments. Don't go for a PO on that first call. Pitch, qualify, then sell an appointment.
There you have it, or as said in a phrase I learned the other night at our pub across the street, The Windmill (pictured here), "and Bob's your uncle!"
If you're not here at the Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference, you can follow it on the twitter stream #sm20.
The keynote speaker is Peter J. Stewart, Senior Vice President, Collaboration Technology Services of PGi, opened up with his overall theme of "Meetings". So I was inspired to share some tips focused on sales appointments.
"Meetings are Everywhere," he said, "All that work we do in B2B goes into getting a meeting."
There are several types of meetings:
- Trust is built
- Relationships are formed
- Deals are closed
- ideas take shape
- Products are created
- People are inspired
Couple tips for Sales and Marketing in a 2.0 world--as it pertains to meetings:
He closed with, "The best meetings are the meetings that are fun."
What anecdotes can you share about meetings?
Appointment Setting is a part of demand generation that is done through vendors that specialize in the task, or by inside sales teams that add it to their roster of tasks. Building a performing team of appointment setters, as a business or a function of inside sales, requires best practices, tips and tricks -- and most of all -- discipline.
I get asked the following question a lot when I’m on the road, be it from clients or prospects or from folks I’m chatting with during industry networking events:
“How do you get the most out of your appointment setting team?”
That's the $64,000 question. Getting the most from appointment setters is always something that’s at the forefront of our minds -- especially when maintaining both quality and quantity in the results. The minute you stop thinking about driving performance is the minute production and quality drops, and a minute lost is a minute you'll never get back.
There are several ways that you can keep your B2B appointment setting team cranking and happy, too. If your team is happy, they’re going to be executing at a higher level.
Incent Them Strategically - If you want to get the most out of your appointment setting team, you’ve got to incent them to achieve the right goals. If the most important measure is to have meetings with a positive outcome (read: logical next step in the sales process), then doesn’t it make sense that your appointment setting team is compensated on the quality of meetings rather than dials, pitches and meeting count? Old school call center tactics work, but need adjustments. We're not selling new paper subscriptions here.
SPIFF Them Periodically - Everybody loves competition, fun and reward, and a SPIFF is a great way to way bring it. If your team is chugging along but you’re looking for something to push performance or direct it in a certain direction, a SPIFF is a great tool. Do you know what your reps hold dear. Is it cash? Is it time off? Is it gift cards? Is it ego? Whatever it is, surprising them with a contest is a great way to up the team’s production and incent teamwork.
Provide Them With Sales 2.0 Tools - Don't just help your team, implement Sales 2.0 tools and techniques and make your whole organization more agile. Run a training class on LinkedIn tips and tricks. If your average appointment setter is taking 100-120 dials to get an appointment, why not demonstrate techniques that can shorten those cycles and provide better quality in the process? Add click-to-dial software for your CRM, Jigsaw and NetProspex subscriptions, or social media tools for prospecting purposes, and you’re all set.
Give Them Freedom to Work - I've seen this job done a hundred different ways. Provide freedom of technique. If someone is better starting the task with research and others are better as hard core dialers, accommodate them. Maintain best practices, but give your team the freedom to work in their comfort zone. Find ways to measure them that takes into account "their personal best practices".
Provide Them With Support - Don't just give them a pitch and a phone. Back up your appointment setters with resources and staff. Help them with things like list-building, email creations, scripting, etc. If your reps can spend less time on support tasks, that leaves more time for production. Simple as that.
Ultimately, what you want to do is get the most from your B2B appointment setters, and these are some of the ways we do that for our clients and ourselves. How do you push your team to greater achievements?
Photo Credit: ianturton via Flickr
Lead Generation is an "industry" in New England, going back to the early days of the Route 128 Technology Highway. At one point some entrepreneurial soul spun off from one of the big companies, such as Digital or Wang, and there you have it -- the 1st leads of an industry were generated.
Now there are over 1500 third-party lead gen employees in the area, not to mention all the companies that have based their outbound efforts in the area.
The following competitors all call New England home. We know most of our competitors and consider many of them friends:
(If I left one off, leave me a comment and I'll add them to the list)
We were confident at Green Leads that setting up shop in Andover, MA was a good decision. It's a beautiful town, 20 minutes north of Boston, has a T (rail) station, fantastic reach to the lead gen talent pool ... and Linda and I live here.
Half of these companies are located in the Merrimack Valley, with Andover in the center of the map. Does that make us the demand gen capital of the world? It may have been debatable, but now that we've heard rumors that the largest of the appointment setting clan, By Appointment Only, is moving across the street, I guess that may seal the deal.
Andover is now undisputably the demand gen capital of the world.
So if you are looking for BAO competitors, just look over your shoulder. There are plenty in the area, and specifically Green Leads is in the next building, where the parking is better -- and we were here first!
ps. The Shawsheen Luncheonette is our turf
So, for a few days last week in Boston and her surrounding suburbs, it was extremely hot. I'm not talking "spring time" hot, like in the upper 70's. I'm talking about temps in the 90's!
I'm a big guy, and I can tell you this -- I can't stand the heat. I hate it. Some days I think the only reason I stick around the Northeast is for the sports, and there are days when they make me cringe, too. There are days when I think,"Boy, the Eskimos sure have it nice." Okay, maybe that's a little too far, but it got me thinking -- what's the temperature like for my appointment setting team? Are they hot, cold, or lukewarm? If they're hot, great, but how do you keep them there? If they're cold or lukewarm, what can you do increase the temperature?
Let's talk about what you can do if your team is cold. Surprisingly enough, this isn't the worst place they can be; that would be lukewarm, but we'll get to that in a bit. If your team is cold and they're not producing like you'd like them to, here are couple of things you can do right now to heat things up:
Competitions -- I don't care if it's number of appointments set in a day or in a week, or number of conversations with prospects, but build competitions into your reps' workday. You'd be amazed at what people will compete for. Put a prize in front of it and watch your productivity climb. Movie tickets, cash, a DVD, it doesn't matter, because the very nature of the competition will heat things back up in your bullpen.
- Evaluate -- Are the right people doing the right job? Did you build the team too fast? Are some of them better suited for other roles? Take some time to evaluate and move folks around if you have to. You may find that the right person is doing the wrong job, and the right job for that person is just begging to have some added support. Good people are hard to find, so put them in positions that suit them.
If your team is lukewarm, I'd say you've got bigger problems. You know what lukewarm says to me? It says, "Meh." It says, "Eh, okay." It says you've got a team that doesn't really care about what they're doing. They're just a bit better than cold, and nowhere's near hot, and harder to tell the differences If your team is lukewarm, here are couple of ways to get them on fire:
- Clean House -- Yup, you read that right. Chances are, there is someone on that lukewarm team who is ready to move on to the next part of their sales career, and they're begging you (sometimes without even knowing) to let them go. Take a look at your team and see who that person is. I think the term to coin here is "addition through subtraction." Removing a lukewarm player may be just what the rest of your team needs to heat themselves back upm especially if that person is a negative drag on everyone else. You know who I'm talking about.
- Management? -- If your team is just so-so and lukewarm, maybe it's how they're being managed and motivated. Take some time and really evaluate yourself as manager here. Are you doing everything you can from a leadership perspective to help your team? Is there anything you could be doing better to help your team increase their production? If there is, get on it, and fast, before someone above you decides to "add" by "subtracting' you.
If your appointment setting team is hot, and they're on fire, keep it up. "Keep what up?" you may ask. Whatever it is you're doing to help them stay hot -- but don't leave without sharing how you're doing it with the rest of us!
If you're like me, last night you spent over four hours consumed with watching the finale to the television series LOST. Now I'll give you that it probably wasn't the best use of four hours of my life, but I've enjoyed the show so much over its six seasons that I just wanted to take the final episode in as much as I could, and for Smashmouth, that means inspiring a blog article.
The finale offered the best of what the show had given its viewers over the last six years -- confusion, excitement, joy and sorrow. It got me thinking, though -- is there a way that this relates to appointment setting? Naturally it does. Our reps feel all of those emotions while they're making dials, right? So here is my take on how those four emotions that the series LOST gave its audience parlay themselves into appointment setting:
Confusion - Our reps feel this all the time, especially when they fail to do the most important part of the job -- and that is focus. My reps' No. 1 focus is to schedule an appointment with the prospects of our clients. When they lose focus of that, naturally they're going to get confused. Teach your reps to take some time at the beginning of each call session and write down what their main goals are. Your reps don't like to be confused, and I'm betting your clients don't want them to be, either. They sell appointments, not software package XYZ.
- Excitement - Nothing builds momentum in appointment setting and inside sales like "excitement." What are you doing to raise the level of excitement for your team? It's important that you get just as excited about your reps' successes as they do! The rest of the team will glom on to that and ride that wave throughout the rest of their day, so don't lose sight on that. We SPIFF the reps several times a week. Fun stuff, from DVDs to lottery tickets, to cash bounties -- and always in a clear competition with others.
- Joy - This one's a little bit different than excitement. Joy comes from within, so help your reps to be joyful by making sure they understand the importance of their job. I've often found that when I understand why I do what I do, it makes what I do much more enjoyable. When your reps enjoy what they do, you're going to have a much more productive team, and a team that produces more tends to do what? They breed excitement, and you're right back at No. 2 from above.
- Sorrow - Sometimes you're going to have reps who gets bummed out because what they thought were going to be leads for their client turned out not to be so. Sometimes they can have a bad day, which can lead to a bad week. That can get frustrating for your reps, so help them through those times by teaching them to remember their successes. There's very little time to get negative in this job; in fact, I'd argue that there's none. If you go a day without setting meetings or generating leads, that's a day you'll never get back. So help your reps get back in the saddle by remembering times of higher achievements.
Is your team LOST?
Someone asked me recently where the Green in Green Leads came from?
It originally was a name that sounded great for a demand gen company, and "green" had lots of connotations: Money, greenfield opportunities and of course living green, which my wife Linda and I believe in and do our best to do our part.
Last week's blog post sparked another discussion at a client meeting. Lead Gen Tip for Q2: Face Time and an article from last year, C Level Prospects: Make Your First Appointment by Phone, can be summarized with two bullet points:
- Introductory sales appointments are effective if done by phone, and executive level prospects are more willing to do first meetings by phone
- Second meetings are more effective if done face-to-face
The conversation went from business to environmental impact when someone offered, "Besides, phone meetings are better for the environment, too."
Green Leads has been buying carbon offsets over the past year as a way to reduce our own carbon footprint. We calculate this number based on the number of employees we have as well as the square footage of our offices. We have also kept our footprint about 50% less than companies similar to ours by implementing our Virtual Hybrid Office Space concept (reduced space, commutes and other waste).
We're in the business of B2B appointment setting, and meetings can often mean travel -- travel impacts carbon footprint, be it by car or plane. Green Leads has decided to let our clients help with our green initiatives by using a portion of our meeting revenue to purchase carbon offsets:
| ||Phone Meetings :||0.002 tons CO2|
| ||Face to Face by Car :||0.08 tons CO2|
| ||Face to Face by Flight :||0.29 tons CO2|
| ||Green Leads (Employees & Space) : || 142 tons CO2|
It is estimated that Green Leads and our clients will purchase estimated carbon offsets to cover between 500-600 tons of CO2 footprint in 2010. Green Leads will be making these carbon offset purchases through CarbonFund.org and will post a chart on our blog to track the impact we've made over time.
So take those first introductory appointments by phone. If we reduce face-to-face meetings by 50%, we can reduce our impact by 175-225 tons of CO2. Let's put the Green back in Green Leads.
Measuring the effectiveness of lead gen programs is always at the top of a demand gen expert's list of priorities. One of the gating factors happens to be out of their control -- what does the sales team do with a lead once they start working it?
In a previous blog article, I shared poll results showing C Level prospects being more than willing to take their first introductory appointment by phone. Of their initial meetings with vendors, 58% were by phone and of those, 69% were "effective."
In general, it is becoming more the norm to begin a relationship by phone. But what happens next? The outcome of meeting number one should be to have a follow-on sales activity. What should be the goal for meeting number two?
For myself, I made it my goal over the past six months if an introductory call was going well to ask for a face-to-face meeting. The next step in the sales process may be to present a quote or meet other decision makers, but by insisting on a face-to-face meeting, I was able to put my best foot forward and start building rapport at a level beyond what a second phone call could provide. No hard stats to back it up, however: In Q1 of 2010 we closed the same amount of business as Q3 and Q4 of 2009, and in 2009 we grew by a factor of 3X.
Questions this raises:
Should that first meeting have been face-to-face?
I think not. Of the appointments I took, roughly 4 in 10 resulted in that second meeting. A third resulted in nurturing activities, and the remaining meetings were discarded as unqualified. Making the first appointment by phone allowed me to avoid travel and time investment in the 60% that didn't result in immediate sales activity.
Should I have handled meeting number two by phone?
I've done it before; in fact, a majority of 2007 through 2009 was spent effectively selling with phone relationships. That said, I think that my best selling is when people get to meet me, in person, and can feel the integrity and passion that I bring to each project.
Should you add "meeting two should be face-to-face" to your demand gen SLA with sales in order to increase the effectiveness of the leads you generate?
If you are in a sales environment that eventually end up in face time, then I recommend it. Have a qualfied criteria that defines which opportunities move to the face time requirement, but definitely consider adding it. The Internet and increased communications tools could be holding back your conversion rate.
Have you seen our webcast replay of The 10 Pillars of an Ideal B2B Demand Gen Platform on Focus.com?
On a recent sales call, the prospect told me he is working with a pay-for- performance appointment setting company like Green Leads. The difference, and the reason for the call, is that he wants more meetings per month, but the other vendor is "dictating the pace" at which he gets them. Was I dreaming? Did I hear that right?
If you are paying for performance after the meeting takes place, isn't the vendor incentivized to deliver the exact number of meetings you ask for? Frankly, by not delivering the requested run rate of appointments, the vendor is (a) disappointing the client and (b) leaving money on the table.
Whether you have an internal team or an external team, whether it is pay for performance or retainer based, here are a couple of lead gen tips for you:
- You -- the demand gen specialist -- should dictate the production you are seeking.
- Establish and manage to a Service Level Agreement (SLA). If you want 20 meetings a month, then you should get 20 meetings a month. Vice versa, if you are to supply inbound leads or lists, you deliver, too.
- Vendors, as well as inside teams, are all about headcount, and that is what they are juggling -- production per person. That's their problem, not yours.
- Understand why you are not receiving your request. Is there a skill issue? A headcount problem? A list issue? Reschedule/cancel rates? Messaging? You may not own their issue, but you can understand it and help solve it.
- If you don't get what you want, make changes. It can be as drastic as replacing a vendor or laying off some deadwood, but don't live with mediocrity. You own the budget and are measured on your results.
Just a quick note to everyone who might be spending the next few weeks planning for the new year. Don't take your eye off the ball. January, along with June and October, are the biggest Demand Gen months for Green Leads, and it may be for you as well.
Three years of production data shows that on a per-rep basis, January produced 35% more appointment setting and qualified lead generation than the worst month, August.
What was the best month? June.
What was the most suprising month? December - we set an all time record for weekly production in the first two weeks of December. So much for those clients that ask us to put programs on hold between Thanksgiving and New Years...lots of missed opportunity for them. The last two weeks do taper off, but December still came in 6th for the year.