connect-callThanks to our consistent blogging and optimized calls-to-action, we get a lot of leads from our blog. Sadly, not all of them are a good fit for our services, so ensuring that we focus our attention on the right leads is absolutely critical to our success.

To help us maximize our opportunities, while minimizing the time spent with leads that aren’t a good fit, we have come up with a three-step sales process that starts with what we call a Connect Call.

The goal of the connect call is to:

  1. Establish if there is a problem we can help solve.
  2. Establish that I’m a credible person to help the person solve it.
  3. Determine if there is motivation to solve this problem or not.
  4. Get commitment to proceed with the next call.

How to Qualify While Engaging in a Conversation

The following sample script is what we use (as a guide, not word-for-word) when we are calling someone who has downloaded one of our ebooks.

Hi Pete. It’s Trent. (Pause long enough to give him a chance to acknowledge that he knows me. If he doesn't…)

Trent who?

Oh, sorry, I thought you would recognize my name. It’s Trent Dyrsmid – a lot of people that I call know my name already.

If they don’t say “Trent who?” but their voice indicates they are annoyed, say…

Sounds like I caught you at a bad time, Pete?

If he says "no," respond with: Ok, are you sure?

If he asks how long you will need, say:

I don’t know. You requested some info from my company, and I’m calling to see if I can help. I’m an expert at helping companies to improve their results from their blogging efforts, and I’ve done a little bit of research on your company. I do see some areas where we might be able to help you with things, but I don’t know if it’s a priority for you or not?

He will likely ask what I found in the research that you did.

I see that you downloaded an ebook on blogging, and then I checked out your blog and didn’t see a whole lot of activity. I was wondering if you are considering doing more with your blog, and if so, are there things that you are still trying to learn by downloading our ebook?

He is probably going to tell you that his blog isn’t working at this point.

I was going to say that (your blog sucks), but I didn’t want to be so forward. It sounds like you know that your blog isn’t doing what you need it to, and you know that you are not doing it well. Is it a priority to do it better?

Now the prospect is probably going to open up enough to uncover the real problem: lead generation.

So you’ve done enough research to know that blogging could attract prospects to you and ultimately deliver leads to your sales team. But, you haven’t been able to figure out how to do it yourself?

He will likely make a statement agreeing.

And then you mentioned that you have a sales team cold calling and that you’ve had some attrition, um, so it’s important, it sounds like, not so much to figure out how to do blogging, but how to get leads for the sales team? Is that right?

He will likely answer affirmatively and expand on the problem somewhat.

I’m a big advocate of proactive selling; however, you probably have read that inbound leads typically close at a higher rate with lower sales effort so, while I don’t like to feed lazy salespeople, I certainly like more productive salespeople. (pause)

He will probably make another affirmation and add more commentary.

So, I’ve worked with many companies and helped them figure out, not just how to do blogging, but to help them figure out really how to build a sales funnel from their marketing efforts. If that is a priority for you, is that something you’d be interested in having a longer conversation about? Typically, we’d talk about what you are doing now, what you are not doing, and a little bit about your marketing efforts as well as your sales efforts. I can walk you through some of the ways we might be able to help. If that is something you think is still a priority and you believe that I might be able to help you, we can go from there and figure out what next steps makes sense. Would you like to have a longer conversation about that?

He is probably going to say that he is open to the idea, but he is also going to express some reservations — "Other people have promised this before and not delivered."

OK, I’m not committing to helping you with anything yet, and I’m not certain that I can help you either. There are certain things we would need to agree upon before we even consider entering into an engagement together. We can go two routes: One is maybe we share some of the problems you have and what you’ve tried with other people, and I can point out where you might have gone wrong. We can discuss those, and I can talk to you about how I avoid those, or….

Remember, the goal of the Connect Call isn’t to try and sell the prospects on anything more than investing the time to have an in-depth conversation about his needs; assuming that you have determined that they are a good prospect, that is.

Questions to Determine If There Is a Problem

I have provided you with the conversation above as an example of how you should talk with a new prospect. As every prospect isn’t going to be the same as the next, below are some additional questions you can weave into your conversation.

  • What are you doing to generate new business today?
  • Where do you get leads from? How is that working?
  • Is your website an important part of your lead generation strategy?
  • Have you considered blogging? (or blogging more)
  • How many leads do you need?
  • What are some of the activities that you have considered starting?
  • Who is your ideal customer?
  • Do you know what type of traffic you are getting now? Where are they are coming from?
  • Do you know which sources of traffic are producing the most engaged visitors?
  • Do you know which sites are referring you the most/best traffic?

Setting Up the Second Call

Your Connect Call should last between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on how interested the prospect is and how interested you are in his business.

Once you have established that there is a need, and you believe he is qualified enough to justify the investment of another hour of your time, you should close for the 2nd appointment (the Exploratory Call).

To do that, you should say something along the lines of…

If this is a priority for you, typically what I would propose for the next step is that we have a longer dialogue. I would share with you some of the ways I might be able to help you or how I have helped companies like yours. We can talk through potentially putting a plan together where we can help you to move forward.

Sometimes a prospect will attempt to avoid the second call. I've found that there are two major objections voiced:

1. The Prospect Wants to See a Proposal

If you have done a good job on the Connect Call, it’s not uncommon to have a prospect ask you for a proposal.

If he does ask, do not agree to send him one.

Sending a proposal at this stage in the conversation is the kiss of death. If he does ask you for one, here’s what you can say…

OK, Pete, it sounds like we have identified that there are some things that you are interested in — some of the things that we talked about must have resonated with you. It seems like this is a priority for you, is that right?

Yes, it is.

So, unfortunately, I don’t feel I’m capable of writing the right proposal for you yet. We’ve talked about a few things, but I don’t feel like I know enough about where you’re trying to take the business. I don’t have a good feel for what you are and aren’t d0ing — both in your sales and in your marketing efforts. I need to understand this to figure out exactly what it is that is going to get you to where you want to go.
Typically what I would propose, if this is still a priority and I have established the fact that I think I can help you with this, is that we’d have another conversation where it would be a bit more structured. I’d ask you a lot more questions about your business. I can certainly answer any questions that you might have about how we work or what we do. At the end of that, I’d have a much better feel for exactly what it is that I think can do in order to maximize our chances of really doing a great job for you and helping you to get where you want to go.
Is that something that you’d be interested in doing?

If he agrees, book it. If not, ask why?

2. The Prospect Thinks He Has Everything Figured Out.

Everyone has problems with sales and marketing; however, if they don’t yet trust you, it’s not uncommon for people to be unwilling to admit that they have any problems you might be able to help them with.

If you find that no matter what you ask them about, they say some version of “We’ve got that handled,” then you might try saying something along the lines of this…

Well, it seems to me, though I see areas for improvement, you believe you're doing it in a way that is getting the best returns and results for you. If that’s the case, I don’t want to continue to pester you with questions. Maybe this just wouldn’t be a good fit?

If the prospect continues to tell me he has everything covered, I might try to lighten the mood by saying…

It seems like I’ve caught you on a really bad day. I’ve never talked with anyone who had no problems in any of these areas. Is that the case?

Implement a Multi-Part Sales Process

A multi-part sales process can help you maximize your opportunities, while minimizing the time spent with leads that aren’t a good fit. The goal of your first call is to:

  • Establish if there is a problem we can help solve.
  • Establish that you are a credible person to help them solve it.
  • Determine if there is motivation to solve this problem or not.
  • Get commitment to proceed with the next call.

Every prospect has different challenges. You need to be prepared with additional questions to establish if he has a problem you can solve.
The first call should be brief. Once you have established that there is a need, and you believe he is qualified enough to justify investing another hour of your time, you should work towards setting up the second call.

This article originally appeared on Groove Digital Marketing's Blog.

Originally published Sep 17, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017

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Agency Prospecting Tips