Best Practices

Impression Marketing – The Art and Science of Inside Sales

Christopher Tuttle

(this is the core content on a white paper I wrote in 2004)

10 Steps to Quadruple Inside Sales Results

(A White Paper for Business to Business Sales over the Phone)

What would happen if your Inside Sales Representatives could progress a sale on every call whether they spoke to the decision maker or not?  Are your reps working hard to get 40, 50, 60, or 70 calls done in a day?  Are your sales staying about level?

What if your reps could call 200 decision makers, speak with 30 of them, leave 100 compelling voicemails, and gather permission to email or fax 100 of them a high response marketing piece EVERY DAY?

In one month your database would have 2000+ targeted prospects who have given you permission to market to them periodically.  In one year you would have 24,000!

Here’s a step-by-step process to do it right:

Step One: Find your Core Message.

One authority says you have 30 seconds to get your point across.  Another says condense to 45 words or less.  Distill and use in your scripts, presentations, faxes and emails, website, and all printed literature.  These are your Positioning Headlines to use in every discussion.

Step Two: Prioritize your 5 Top Features, Advantages, and Benefits.

What are the 5 coolest things about your product or service?  = Features.

What 5 things stand out against the competition? = Advantages.

Top 5 things your product or service does for your client?  = Benefits.

Now prioritize.

Step Three: Build an Assembly Line.

Sales is a linear process.  Consider separating your inside sales into three components: Lead Generation, Needs Analysis/Closure, and Account Management.  In other words: Marketing, Sales, and Service.  Ideally start everyone at lead generation.  Better questioners and closers move to sales, follow-up and up-sellers move to service.  These are specialists, not generalists.

Step Four: Motivate and Leverage to Work Harder!

Full time reps should make 100 calls a day; 200 calls with a dialer.  A web-based hosted dialer costs 5-10% of labor cost and doubles productivity; easy decision.

Wage/Salary=Effort, Commissions=Results, Extra incentives=Great Achievements

EFFORT: The ideal wage would be an amount per dial, not per hour.  If too radical, then a smaller wage and a per-hour incentive on top of it for hitting the dials and contacts ratio you set for a pay period, a week, or even daily.

RESULTS: Pay for specific results: qualified leads (one time spiffs), sales closed (% of revenue), up-sells made and customers kept (ongoing revenue.)  Don’t incent salespeople for results they can’t control.  And the faster you pay them, the more motivated they are.

GREAT ACHIEVEMENTS: Have daily, weekly, and monthly promotions and contests to keep hitting milestones.  Make it fun, a little crazy.  Start a ‘Wall of Fame’ with an ongoing ‘King of Bunker Hill’ incentive for whoever beats the record for Dials, Contact, Impressions, Leads, Sales, and Up-sells.  Quite often the recognition for great achievement is better than pay.

Step Five: Get and Keep Permission.

The days of unsolicited calling, faxing, and emailing are gone.  Marketers still do it, but not professionals who want a good relationship with their target and an unsullied brand in the market.  Offer ongoing value for prospects to contact them over time.  Track who gave you permission and when.  Allow permission to end if your prospect opts-out.  Never abuse permission.

Step Six: Learn About Your Target Prospect.

The first time you attempt to talk to the person who says ‘Yes’ about your product ask for as much as you can from the receptionist before they put you through.  Get and keep ‘Partial Permission’ to fax or email information when target prospect is unavailable.  Log names, dates, faxes, and emails.  Then you can reference this important information on the collateral you send.  Once you have gathered and logged this info, go right through to the target prospect from then on.

Step Seven: Get Help from Gatekeepers.

Busy executives employ live or automated ‘gatekeepers’ to control access to them so they can get things done.  Executive Assistants sift through information to find relevancy for their boss.  Be relevant.  Use your Positioning Headline.  Get Partial Permission to send a fax or email and they will often hand carry it or forward it to your target.  If you go to an auto attendant or voicemail, press ‘0’ to talk to the receptionist or gatekeeper the first time you are trying to get through. 

Step Eight: Put a Bug in Their Ear.

Leaving voicemail messages one-by-one takes time, and if done wrong, yields almost no results.  Therefore, most reps don’t leave them.  Or they don’t leave enough to get good results, but voicemail can yield the highest response ratio in a marketing campaign.

Done right a 10% callback ratio or more is possible.  The key is knowing the right message to leave to the right target person.  Realize that one goal is to get them to call you back, and not be offended when they find out you are ‘just a salesperson’.  Another goal is to make a good impression and progress the sale by educating them a step at a time on important aspects of your product.

Technology now exists to let your reps prerecord a library of their best voice messages.  Then your reps can leave the message ‘at the tone’ with one mouse click, and go on to the next call.  Less than a second to leave a 30 to 45 second message that causes call backs, educates, makes a good impression, and builds top-of-mind awareness for the next time you contact them.  And callbacks increase contacts with little effort.

Step Nine: Send the Right Information.

Do your prospects say, “Send me information?”  One industry expert says this is a polite way of saying, “get lost!”  Sending the wrong information  is a BIG TRAP: It delays the sales, raises hopes, wastes time, and allows the prospect say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ without you.

RULE: Send only headline-based information that teases or compels the prospect to schedule the next appointment or a demonstration.  Think of it as bait, not a meal.  Whet their appetite, don’t get them full.

Step Ten: Make 100 Good Impressions per Day.

Now that we have the basics in place, we are almost ready for the secret sauce.  With 200 dials we can typically get permission to send information to 100 people.  We log who gave the permissions and when and put their name in a CRM database, then display their name and the date they gave permission right on the fax or email we send.

THE SECRET SAUCE: Technology exists that let us send the promised fax or email before we leave the call.  Those who respond become a lead, those who don’t respond at least have a good impression about us and our company and studies show the response rate goes up slightly the next time we send a compelling offer.  With twenty work days this month we make 2000 impressions, and we gather 2000 permissions to make another impression next month.  A small percentage op out, but in one year we have more than 20,000 permissions!  The results start to grow exponentially.  We call this process ‘Impression Marketing’.

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    Author: Ken Krogue |
    Summary of Ken Krogue’s Forbes articles

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