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How tracking talk time can increase your sales velocity

March 12, 2020

This is a guest article by Matt Buchanan, Co-Founder and VP of Sales at Service Direct, the online advertising company that offers local lead generation solutions.

When it comes to B2B lead generation, for most sales managers and reps, the key to increasing your sales velocity is based around one primary KPI - increasing the number of dials.

The idea being that the more activities a sales rep racks up during an 8-hour shift, the more likely they are to have more conversations, generate more leads, more opportunities, and more wins for the company.

Makes sense, right? Well, this may work well when selling certain types of products and services. But when it comes to B2B prospecting for services with high ticket prices, this approach runs the risk of actually hurting your sales velocity.

What if the constant pressure for increased dials translates into meaningless and less productive conversations day in and day out? And all the work your sales team is doing is counterproductive and is actually hurting your sales strategy?

I know this reality, because we’ve been there. We built our outbound sales engine with this “dial, dial, dial” approach, and it came back to bite us.

We had to go back to the drawing board and completely reinvent our cold calling philosophy as a sales team.

This is what we realised…

Quantity means nothing without quality

Instead of focusing solely on increasing the number of activities per sales rep, we focused on increasing talk time as a means to identify quality engagements.

Focusing your sales team’s energy into harnessing quality interactions will, in turn, have them engage with prospects in a more personalised and meaningful way. The benefits of this approach will soon become clear.

Your reps will learn more from every conversation. They will leverage what they learn from previous calls, and this will make their future calls more meaningful - driving more sales and revenue for the business.

It’s vital to understand that every sales call presents two powerful opportunities:

  • The ability to build rapport with a prospect.
  • The ability to better qualify your leads.

Build relationships with gatekeepers

The gatekeeper is often underestimated. They are often viewed as the person just getting in the way of who you’re trying to reach: the decision-maker.

However, the more trust and rapport you build with the gatekeeper, the more likely it is that you’ll get in front of the decision-maker.

So, build up a relationship with the gatekeeper. Ask them how they are. Ask them relevant questions that will help you understand more about their business.

Check with them if the information you have is correct. Have you got the right person, are you pronouncing their name properly? The gatekeeper is often a goldmine of knowledge about the decision-maker and the business.

Treat the gatekeeper with respect and leverage the insight they have. More than 50% of cold calls are answered by some sort of gatekeeper, so devising effective strategies to interact with them is an important first step for any sales rep.

Qualify by asking questions

As a B2B sales rep, you have to commit yourself to listening and learning. A cold call shouldn’t be a monologue. Let the prospect talk - and then follow up with questions.

Ask open-ended questions to get the prospect to open up further and share more information with you. Some examples of open-ended questions are:

  • “What are your top business priorities right now?”
  • “Is your current solution working as well as you would like?”
  • “What do you think will be your biggest challenge this year?”

Asking questions like these will help you to quickly understand if the prospect is a good fit for your product or service. If they are a good fit, then you can qualify them as a good sales lead.

It works both ways, as well. Qualifying with questions means that you can filter out those prospects who have a very low probability of buying from you. Removing the non-potentials from your pipeline will significantly minimise the number of wasted dials.

Personalize every interaction

There is nothing more powerful than video interactions to generate a sense of personalisation and humanisation. It’s especially useful for the B2B sales rep.

According to Vidyard, the premier online video platform for business, 90% of customers say that watching videos helps them to make purchasing decisions.

With video, you can capture attention, establish credibility and build rapport with your prospects in a much faster and more natural way than over the phone.

And it really will make a difference to your end results - again, Vidyard has highlighted that 75% of late-stage prospects that received a personalized video closed!

Understand their pain points

One of the best tactics to deploy when prospecting opportunities is to get the prospect to start talking about their pain points. But it’s not enough to ask a single question that identifies the pain point. The prospect needs to soak in their pain. They need to feel it.

But to master that conversation (and reap the rewards of it), it’s important for reps to feel comfortable going down that rabbit hole without worrying about a sales manager breathing down their neck about their dial numbers.

It takes time and patience to get a prospect to open up about their pain points. Then it takes time to make a very detailed note in the CRM about that discussion. Then it takes time to review that note prior to the next engagement (to make sure the rep can reference the pain points), should they connect again.

All of those things become nearly impossible if the rep is being pressured to just get dials out the door!

The biggest result of exploring pain points effectively is that the deal will progress quicker. And ultimately, when the opportunity to close come around, the prospect will be ready and willing to let you help them make the pain stop!

Final words

By shifting our focus away from the number of activities, and instead focusing on the quality of the engagements we were having, we were able to close more deals faster.

It seems counter-intuitive, but the reality is that by slowing down and taking the time to build rapport, by recognizing that every engagement was an opportunity to learn, we were able to transform our sales process for the better.

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