The Sales Development Blog

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Outbound Prospecting: How to Increase Sales Meetings by 620%

Introduction

Just a few months prior to starting at memoryBlue, I graduated from college – and I hadn’t the slightest clue on how the sales cycle works. In college I majored in Criminology while minoring in Homeland Security, not business or information technology. However, I did have a concentration in statistics which provided me with some of my most important skills during my tenure as a Sales Development Representative at memoryBlue.

Within my first day on the job as an outbound prospecting inside sales rep for my client, I called through my entire list of prospects. I gave up on every prospect that I didn’t speak with and if I left a voicemail I would just wait aimlessly for them to call me back. Make one attempt, move on, make new list, make one attempt, move on, make new list…

I needed a strategy.

A failed attempt to contact a prospect shouldn’t mean that I give up on them. I began to go back through all of my “expired” lists with a new approach.  My list of “expired” prospects would take me days to call through so I decided to space out my activity using a predetermined sequence of calls, voice mails, and emails. It worked! I was getting into more conversations, booking more meetings, and making my client happy.

I decided to run an experiment to find out what results a systematic approach to prospecting would produce.

Below are my findings and analysis that I want to share with other inside sales professionals.

Method

For this research I made a list of 400 prospects, located mostly in North America with only three prospects being international. Company sizes ranged from small startups to massive industry leaders. Verticals were oil and gas; healthcare; insurance; mass media; construction; information technology; emergency responders; manufacturing; transportation; and local, state, and federal government. None of the prospects had previous associations with my client but a small number had a general idea or had heard of my client’s solution: a cloud-based geographic mapping tool that provides real-time collaboration across its users. The outbound prospecting study was done over the course of October 2014. Every prospect received a maximum of five attempts of outreach and each attempt followed the same template. Each attempt is broken down below.

  • Day 0 – First Attempt
    • If contact is made: introduce myself and solution. Present value and set a meeting.
    • No contact: Leave brief voicemail requesting them to call back. Send email with solution outline and request for follow up call.
  • Day 4 – Second Attempt
    • Wait 4 days before contacting same prospect again.
    • If contact is made: introduce myself and solution. Present value and set a meeting.
    • No contact: Leave brief voicemail requesting them to call back. Send email including original email and acknowledge their busy schedule
  • Day 8 – Third Attempt
    • Wait 4 more days before contacting same prospect again.
    • If contact is made: introduce myself and solution. Present value and set a meeting.
    • No contact: Send email with more information on solution and mention my attempts to reach them
  • Day 15 – Fourth Attempt
    • Wait 7 more days to contact same prospect.
    • If contact is made: introduce myself and solution. Present value and set a meeting.
    • No contact: Leave voicemail mentioning my emails. Send email that injects humor with a relevant cartoon or joke.
  • Day 29 – Fifth and Final Attempt
    • Wait two weeks to contact same prospect.
    • If contact is made: introduce myself and solution. Present value and set a meeting.
    • No contact: Send an email that plays on emotion and humor. Mention previous emails and ask if I did something to offend them. Make a joke about them being too busy. Mention that I will continue to reach out next quarter if I don’t hear anything back.

Data

For this reason, the total number of prospects drops over the course of the five attempts in this order: 400 – 382 – 368 – 358 – 328.

Outbound Prospecting Results using Drip Campaign

Data Analysis

After collecting and evaluating the data it is apparent that there is an increase in response rates with each additional attempt as seen in the following graphs. Figure 1 shows an increase of respondents in general but also shows the diversity of response types. The 1st attempt had a decent response, with a few leads generated and a substantial amount of prospects being disqualified.

Outbound Prospecting with Drip Campaign

The 2nd and 3rd attempts saw a slight drop in responses with a few referrals being acquired. Leads were up from the 1st attempt but then were obsolete in the 3rd attempt. The 4th attempt showed a substantial increase in responses with most of those being disqualified. The 5th attempt showed a drastic increase in responses. A large amount of those were disqualified prospects but this attempt produced more than twice the amount leads then the next highest attempt.

In figure 2 we can see the elevation of responses over the course of the campaign as a percentage of the total number of prospects available.

Percent of Prospect Responses in Drip Campaign

After each attempt, prospects who responded were removed from future attempts yet the chart still shows a drastic increase in response rates towards the later attempts, positive and negative. In the first attempt, response rates were no higher than 5% for all categories while leads accounted for less than 2%. By the 5th attempt response rates were above 20% with leads generated peaking at 5%. The 3rd attempt shows a major drop in response rates from previous attempts. This attempt could have been due to several factors. The email and voicemail used made references to previous attempts at trying to reach the prospect. With that said, the 5th attempt made a play on emotion and humor, while also mentioning that they would be contacted next quarter if no response was received.

Conclusion

When you’re consistent in outbound prospecting, you have a much better chance of success. Thanks to the information gathered in this analysis, I now have evidence of this. When comparing the 1st attempt with the final outcome in figure 3, it is clear that constant touches lead to results. My 3rd attempt, as discussed previously, had minimal responses and moving forward I will change the method of the 3rd approach.

Outbound Prospecting: Single vs. Multi-Touch Approach

When I first started my career in lead generation I would have only garnered five leads before I had considered this list “expired.” With my refined method I was able to generate a total of 31 leads with a large number of conversations still alive and well in the sales pipeline.

I invite all sales professionals to utilize this data in their future endeavors. Record not just notes and what prospects say, but also the trends. Have consistency so that you can measure your results, identify trends, and make adjustments. Einstein once said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. He was right, constantly implementing a game plan that produces minimal results is insane because although it may be good enough, it won’t lead to results. It won’t elevate your career, and you won’t better yourself as a professional. For success in outbound prospecting, you need to stay consistent, record results, analyze findings, adapt and make adjustments.

Senior Account Executive Richard Shouldis has been with memoryBlue since January 2014. During his tenure he has repeatedly hit his quota while working with a wide range of clients. He has hand on experience selling business intelligence tools, network security software, data storage devices, GIS collaboration software, eCommerce integration tools, and data analytic solutions. Richard graduated from Longwood University with a Bachelors of Science in Criminology and a Homeland Security minor while concentrating in cyber security, counter-terrorism and geographic information systems.

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