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Prospecting 2.0: The Cold Call is Dead

15 April 2009

Nothing is more dreaded by most sales reps than having to generate new sales leads by cold calling.  I am preparing for a webinar, hosted by InsideView and part of their educational web event series on Sales 2.0, that explores a more effective way to find qualified sales opportunities and engage with those prospects.  Called “Prospecting 2.0”, this new approach is a godsend to sales reps.  Customers are pretty happy about it, too.  It respects both the customer and the sales rep’s time by focusing the sales organization on contacts who are most likely to be interested in receiving a phone call or e-mail from them.  How is this possible? Sales reps that practice Prospecting 2.0:

  • Put themselves in the customer’s shoes and only reach out to those contacts at the right time with the right message
  • Are well-informed about their prospect’s business objectives, initiatives, and challenges
  • Use a lead rating system to prioritize their contacts and organize their outreach and follow up accordingly
  • Embrace technologies that make them more effective and productive by delivering information in an easy-to-use context

In many Sales 2.0 organizations, there is a dedicated person or group whose job it is to reach out to customers early in their buying cycle, discover if there is a “fit”, and keep them engaged – with the help of nurturing marketing programs – until they are closer to a buying decision. This Sales Development or Lead Qualification group allows sales reps with quotas to focus on closing qualified buyers without sacrificing the filling of the sales funnel for future quarters. While sales reps are compensated on revenue-generation, sales development reps are paid on delivering qualified opportunities to the sales force.

E-mails can benefit from a Prospecting 2.0 approach as well.  At the end of last month, I remember getting a message that went something like this:

“Since it’s the end of our quarter, I thought you might be interested in (product name), which is now available at a 15% discount until (end of quarter date).”

This is a commonly-used approach that has everything to do with the sales rep’s quota attainment and nothing to do with the customer. Consider instead this customer-centric, personalized approach:

“Steve at Steve and Company suggested I contact you. I read recently in Profitability Today that your company is facing cost reduction in sales.  We just reduced head count 20% while increasing revenue 25% by implementing Sales Wonder Tool at Steve and Company. Would you like hear more about how we could help you decrease cost while increasing productivity at your company?”

In next week’s webinar at 10AM on April 21 PST,  I look forward to interviewing Jason Braun of Jellyvision and Mike Pilcher of MarketBright and hearing about how they use a Prospecting 2.0 approach every day in their sales organizations.  We’ll address three key topic areas:

  1. The Importance of Data
  2. Know Thy Customer, and
  3. Provocation-Based Selling, as described in the article by Philip Lay, Todd Hewlin and Geoffrey Moore in the Harvard Business Review.

What questions do you have about how to prospect more effectively? What approaches are working for you?