Last summer I wrote the post 3 Sales Prospecting Tools You Can’t Live Without, where I discussed the top necessities every inside sales rep should have in order to be successful on the phones. One of the points I focused on was having a structured call plan methodology to follow, and the idea that there is a science behind how many touches prospects need to receive before they turn into a qualified lead.
The reason for me revisiting the topic is because I recently had a customer ask me for some guidance on how to create the right call plan strategy for inside sales teams. Interestingly, some of the reps on his team did not have any rhyme or reason to the way they were calling into prospects. In some cases, they would reach out to a cold lead two to three times over the phone and then give up. If they were a warmer lead, they would “no contact” the prospect about 10 times a day without leaving a voicemail. The amount of different call plan methodologies out there are endless, and while there are not necessarily “right” or “wrong” methods, there are definitely some proven processes that in my experience I have seen work.
Below are some best practices when it comes to creating the right call structure for your inside team:
Create a call plan methodology that is realistic. In talking with others in the inside sales world and based on my experience, on average it can take anywhere from 10-12 touches before a lead becomes a qualified sales opportunity. This can certainly vary depending on the type of call you are making; for instance, if you are following up on a hot lead, it will take far less time to convert in most cases. However, in general, use the 10-12 touch rule with your team. If you create a call plan that has your team giving up after the third phone call, odds are you aren’t going to be turning over the number of qualified leads you could be.
Be consistent. Your reps must stay consistent when it comes to calling prospects. If they call a prospect one day, and then follow up a few weeks later with another call and then an email the next day, odds are that the prospect has forgotten about the initial reach out and they aren’t making the connection. After all, prospects are receiving phone calls and emails all day every day from your competitors, and you are just blending in with everyone else at that point. What better way to stand out than to create a consistent pattern of touches that they are receiving from you. Waiting a few weeks in between just won’t cut it. You are much better off with reaching out two to three times in one week with a series of calls and follow-up emails instead. The key here is to have your team set follow-up tasks and not allow those tasks to hit their overdue task queue.
Change the plan depending on the campaigns your team follows up on. As I said earlier, the 10-12 touch rule really depends on the type of leads your team is calling into. If they are warm, they most likely have a direct line associated with their lead in your CRM, so it is much easier to call directly into that person without having to go through an operator. When my team calls warm lists from a recent webinar or a recent trade show, I often tell them to simply call through the list and just focus on getting prospects live by “no contacting” them instead of leaving a voicemail every time. Given that the list is hot, I will have them strictly focus on calling that campaign for the entire week, calling each prospect every day. On the other hand, if the list is a cold list, they need to spend more time mapping out the organizations, and they need to make many more touches warming the prospects up. The best way to accomplish this is to call each prospect a few times in a week, with emails immediately following.
I don’t believe there’s a right or wrong call plan structure that is the end all be all when it comes to inside sales. However, you must have a documented process that your team follows across the board in order to yield results. Randomly calling into a list with no structure is just not going to work. By creating a call plan methodology that is realistic, consistent, and able to be altered based on the type of campaign, you are far more likely to meet and exceed your goals. What are your best practices when it comes to your inside sales team’s call plan strategy?
Laney Dowling is the Director of Customer Success at AG Salesworks. Laney's responsibilities include managing daily client engagements, inside sales team oversight, reporting, training, and ongoing contact list development and refinement. To read more of Laney's articles, click here.