Has your name ever been on a salesperson's call list? Did you receive a lot of voicemails from that salesperson over the course of a few weeks?
Think back to those sales voicemails. Were they valuable? Did you learn anything that helped you? Or were the voicemails a carbon copy of the company's elevator pitch?
I probably receive about 20 calls a day from various salespeople. Here is a sample call sequence I receive from a salesperson.
[Tuesday at 9 a.m.]: "Hi Mark. This is John from XYZ company. Would you like to reach more decision makers with your sales team's calling efforts? Our company can deliver the names and contact information for thousands of decision makers at Fortune 500 companies. We have state-of-the-art technology that maximizes the accuracy of our data. Please reach out to me today so I can show you some sample lists."
[Thursday at 8 a.m.]: "Hi Mark. This is John again from XYZ company. Would you like to reach more decision makers with your sales team's calling efforts? Our company can deliver the names and contact information for thousands of decision makers at Fortune 500 companies. We have state-of-the-art technology that maximizes the accuracy of our data. Please reach out to me today so I can show you some sample lists."
[Monday at 10 a.m.]: "Hi Mark. John over here at XYZ company. You probably remember that we can deliver the names and contact information for thousands of decision makers at Fortune 500 companies. We have state-of-the-art technology that maximizes the accuracy of our data. I would love to show you these names. Call me today when you have a second."
It's hard to listen to this stuff. I can't imagine being on the other side of the phone, leaving this monotony of voicemails every day.
Not only is this approach inappropriate in any modern prospecting situation, it is also the kiss of death for an inbound lead. Your marketing team has invested significant amounts of time and money to attract this buyer, using quality educational content that is highly relevant to the buyer's context. The buyer has had a great experience perusing the articles on your blog, reading through ebooks, and attending webinars that your company has produced to help them frame their problem better. When thinking about the problems the buyer is looking to solve, the buyer perceived your company as smart, helpful, and relevant.
Then a classically trained salesperson calls the prospect and leaves one of the voicemails listed earlier.
Disaster! Insert explosion sounds here. All of Marketing's effective inbound work is thrown out the window.
Here is what a HubSpot salesperson's voicemail sequence sounds like:
[Tuesday at 9 a.m.]: "Hi John. This is Mark from HubSpot. I noticed you downloaded our ebook on Facebook marketing best practices. I took a look at your company's Facebook page and had a few suggestions for improving it. I'll email those to you now. Give me a call if you want to discuss."
[Thursday at 3 p.m.]: "Hi John. Mark again from HubSpot. Great news! I found a customer of ours in your industry who had enormous success with their Facebook marketing strategy. I am going to send you that case study now to give you an idea of the specific tactics they used and the results you should expect. Give me a call if you would like to review it together."
[Monday at 12 p.m.]: "Hi John. Mark at HubSpot. I actually ran that customer of ours in your industry through our Marketing Grader tool and compared their presence on social media to yours. They scored an 87. You scored a 54. I am going to send you those reports now. It turns out there is a lot more opportunity outside of Facebook in the broader social media area for you. Call me if you want to walk through the report."
And so on. Compare this buyer context-oriented approach to the traditional stream of elevator pitches. With which salesperson would you rather engage? The buyer context sales approach is in perfect alignment with the experience the prospective buyer has had with the company thus far. It is educational. It is insightful. It is personalized to his context. It makes engaging with the salesperson feel like the right next step for the prospect to take.
As the salesperson attempts to connect with the buyer through a sequence of voicemails and emails, the salesperson should treat the process like a dialogue. Even though buyers do not always call back, they are usually listening. Add new information into each voicemail. Align the voicemails with the specific interactions the buyer has had with your company.
I will admit that we had a unique advantage at HubSpot when it came to this type of contextual prospecting. The pain points of our prospects were public information. We knew the extent of each prospect's social media presence, their ranking in search engine results, and the effectiveness of their company blog, all without ever speaking with the prospect. Not all sales teams have that luxury.
That doesn't mean you can't use this contextual approach to prospecting. Understand your prospects' context by reviewing the way they found you -- the blog article they read, the ebook they downloaded. From these actions, the salesperson can infer the prospect's specific interest. Share content related to these interests. Tailor the context to the size of their business, their industry, or their role. Instead of suggesting the next step be a demo of your product, suggest a free consultation on whatever topic will pique their interest. Ask one of your internal experts to help. There is so much opportunity to engage with the prospect in a contextual way.
Now, there is a critical element of the modern voicemail sequence that has its roots in traditional, old-school selling strategy. I need to tip my hat to my dad, Rick Roberge, for introducing me to it. Regardless of whether you are coaching your salespeople to leave three voicemails or 12, the final message should always be the "going negative" voicemail.
"Hi John. Mark at HubSpot. I left you a few voicemails with suggestions and best practices on Facebook marketing. I have not heard back from you. I am going to assume that Facebook marketing is no longer a priority for you this year. Give me a call if it ever becomes a priority again."
For whatever reason, the "going negative" voicemail has the highest callback rate. There must be a psychological phenomenon at work here. In any case, if you have done a good job adding value through the contextual prospecting process, the prospect will likely call you back after this voicemail. You have been providing such great information to them. Why would they want the relationship to end?
[Potential Buyer]: "Mark. I am so sorry I have not had a chance to call. It's been crazy over here. The information you have sent me is so helpful. Can you chat at noon tomorrow?"
[Salesperson]: "Actually I'm tied up, but I'm free at 2. Does that work?"
[Potential Buyer]: "Let's chat then."
Editor's note: This is an excerpt from the new book The Sales Acceleration Formula. It is republished here with permission.