Consider this scenario. You’re in the middle of a busy day for sales & get a buyer quote request notification. Naturally, you call the buyer as fast as possible. Even though they apparently JUST finished filling out the quote request form, they don’t pick up or return your phone call. You get frustrated and question if following up with them is worth your time. If they don’t want to pick up the phone, are they even a worthwhile opportunity?
This dilemma is all too familiar when working in sales. Certainly, there are unresponsive leads that are unqualified and not worth your time. However, what you need to know is that someone who doesn’t pick up the phone right away should definitely still be considered a valid prospect, at least until you gain follow-up information that suggests otherwise. After all, one phone call that goes unanswered doesn’t tell you much at all about the prospect’s needs or intent to buy. There are many reasons why a worthwhile prospect with intent to buy would not pick up the phone.
Why Aren’t Prospective Buyers Answering the Phone?
If you don’t believe us, consider reports from industry experts that explain why your phone calls may be going unanswered:
- Buyer behavior is changing. More and more of your prospective market is going online to buy because they want to buy easily, with as little steps in the process as possible. At the same time, their attention is more divided as ever! Often, they’re looking for the chance to complete a purchase – right then and there online – without needing to speak on the phone.
- They need an attention-grabbing call-to-action to make a move. Unfortunately, a missed call notification doesn’t give them a good reason to make the move and do business with you. However, what does grab attention is a smartly crafted voicemail. We’ll touch on this more soon.
- Buyer’s intentions change quickly! If you wait too long to call, you’re allowing them to use that time to browse, do research on the product/service, and potentially choose with another vendor.
- They were expecting an email rather than a phone call.
Do you have an Email Strategy?
Maybe you are using email to follow up, as well. But according to Salesforce.com, adding a comprehensive email strategy to your “calling fast” strategy is crucial for higher contact rates. Consider that:
- 44% of email prospects purchased at least one product or service from a promotional email last year.
- 33% of email prospects open the email based solely on the subject line.
- 39% of marketing teams have no strategy for mobile email.
- 64% of high-level decision-makers use mobile devices to read their email.
It’s not enough to send a quick email after calling an unresponsive prospect. What works better is coming up with a well-planned email strategy. It should take into account factors like time of day, promotional or other enticing offers, subject line optimization, mobile device optimization, and more.
Is your Sales Strategy Optimizing your Contact Rates?
Keeping that in mind, here are some questions you should be asking yourself about your current sales strategy, in order to get more prospects on the phone:
1. How much time elapsed between when you received the quote request and a call was placed?
Make it a goal to call every prospective buyer within five minutes. According to InsideSales.com, responding to web-generated leads within five minutes results in a 900% increase in contact rates.
2. How many times did you call?
Studies have shown that 6 attempts should be the minimum when trying to reach a prospect that has already filled out a quote form. But consider that attention spans are becoming even more divided. Less people are seeing phone calls as their preferred form of communication. That’s why sales experts like our director, Kevin Lange, now suggest calling up to 10x.
3. What time of day do you typically call?
These days, there’s lots of research out there from industry experts around how time of day impacts contact rates. Planning your day around ideal times to call is crucial for good contact rates. For instance, are you making sure you know your prospect’s time zone and job title? Knowing these things can help you reach out at an ideal time when the prospect is most likely to answer the phone. Interestingly, many studies find that calling between 4-5pm is ideal, since many professionals are wrapping up their day and can take a call. The second best time is 11-12 pm. If you can, block off these times in your schedule to focus on making calls alone.
4. Did you email the lead several times, utilizing a well-crafted follow-up email template, strong subject line, and mobile strategy?
Experts are advising to follow up with your prospects via email several times before disqualifying them. For example, in high-growth organizations, a sales team will touch a prospect via email around 16 times in a 2-4 week span. Another study showed that sales email campaigns with 4-7 follow-ups per sequence got 3x more replies than campaigns with only 1-3 emails.
5. Are you selling too much over voicemail?
There’s a debate in sales about whether or not to leave a voicemail when missing a prospect during a sales call. First of all, leaving a voicemail for every prospect eats up time, and many never call back. It’s easy to get discouraged when measuring response rates to voicemails after leaving just 1-2. Second, if you reveal too much information in a voicemail, the prospect may lose interest right off the bat. However, a quick, well crafted voicemail script can be just what you need to get that call back. Every second or third time you call, leave a voicemail that’s less than 20 seconds. It should include an enticing (but just vague enough) call-to-action that speaks to the prospect’s pain points. This may interest the prospect, and you may get that appointment for a phone call that you were looking for.
6. Are you asking for an appointment?
Buyers like you are busy people. If they can’t take a phone call, they may ignore you initially. After all, they likely don’t know you, and their day is already filled with trying to talk to people they do know! Try asking for a specific time and day to connect that works for their schedule, and make sure it’s not a big ask. For instance, suggest 10 min. of their time to start. This way, they are much more likely to schedule a call with you.
Keep in mind – as always in sales – that not all prospects will answer the phone, either right away or at all. Sometimes prospect may decide to purchase from another company and will avoid contact with you altogether, to avoid explaining their decision to do so. Sometimes a prospect will simply change their mind about your product, or delay their buying time frame. That’s why adding a nurture campaign to your initial sales calls – such as a prolonged email campaign – is so important. They may not be interested in buying right now, but when they are, your email may catch their attention. Over time, if you utilize the above strategies, you will increase your contact rate. This should produce more leads, which will, in turn, produce more sales.