How to Implement Smart Calling with a Smart Plan – Plus: A Case Study from Mike Dunlap

What is Smart Calling

Smart calling is the act of making prospecting sales calls with a plan. In this instance, having a plan entails utilizing a known process and systems you can trust.

Dunlap Marketing has been in the business of conducting smart prospecting calls since 1996. Over the years, we have developed a smart plan that we utilize with every campaign we work on.

The following are crucial steps, developed by our team, that should be followed as you and your team prepare to make smart calls:

  1. Data Records – clearly identify the businesses you want to call (ie: current customer list, idle customer list, specific industry categories, specific sizes (revenues and/or employee count), defined geography
  2. Identify the Decision Maker – know who the right person is you want to talk with; if this information is not available to you, know the proper title and/or department
  3. Messaging – prepare a message that is brief, quickly gets to the reason for your call, asks good qualifying questions, asks about current satisfaction levels, and defines next steps
  4. Utilize Technology – have a data-capture tool that allows you to properly document the valuable information you gather, a tool that allows you to define and schedule next steps, and might allow you to send follow up emails
  5. Schedule – develop and commit to a schedule for making your smart calls; create a schedule that is reasonable and achievable, then follow your plan and be patient
  6. Commit – trust your plan

If you follow the above steps, you will be implementing a Smart Calling campaign with a Smart Plan, a plan that is targeted specifically to a group of companies, some of which might become your future customers. There are common industry phrases that describe this type of work such as cold calling, telemarketing, teleprospecting, or lead generation. No matter what you call it, when it’s done properly, it is an excellent way to fill your pipeline with qualified prospect opportunities.

Personal Case Study

At Dunlap Marketing, we like to make a habit of practicing what we preach. The following case study, dictated by Mike Dunlap, Founder and President, tells the story of Dunlap Marketing’s marketing and advertising journey over the past 7 months. While utilizing various modes of marketing, such as PPC and social media, we wanted to see what would happen if we included smart prospecting calls in the mix.

For the last 7 months (July 2018 through January 2019) our company, Dunlap Marketing, has been focused on a growth plan. As part of the plan, we implemented a few initiatives to assist in our growth. We committed to launching multiple PPC and social media campaigns, along with an internal calling campaign. The results have surprised me.

We began tracking the monthly activity, expenses, and ROI associated with our PPC and social media campaigns. Having committed significant dollars and time, and learning a great deal along the way, we have been amazed at our findings. The world of PPC, Google Ads, Bing, LinkedIn, and Facebook advertising is expensive and very difficult. It is also constantly changing, and we find ourselves competing for keywords with companies that provide differing services. For our company, each and every marketing dollar is important to us and we are not in a position to compete for relative, yet high dollar keywords.

I mentioned earlier that we also maintained an internal calling campaign. (And for the record, we followed all the steps listed above as we ran the campaign!) Below outlines the findings of our growth initiatives thus far:

Budget / Time: Over the past 7 months, approximately 74% of our budget has been allocated to PPC / social media efforts and 26% has been assigned to internal Smart Calling. Something far greater than 74% of our management time has been devoted to work associated with PPC and social media .

Measurement: At the end of the day, we track our sales progress based on the number of proposals delivered to qualified prospects.

Results: Over the last few months, virtually every proposal delivered was the result of our internal calling campaign. Our overall ROI is overwhelmingly in favor of sales activity resulting from Smart Calls. We remain committed to PPC and social media, primarily because we feel over time, these methods will reach prospects that we cannot connect with via Smart Calling efforts.

Utilizing a smart plan while implementing smart prospecting calls has proven to be a successful addition to Dunlap’s overall marketing strategy. Being a low cost, positive ROI-producing solution, consider adding smart calling to you company’s growth strategy.

Why Cold Calling Does Not Work

If you’re in marketing or sales, you likely have a list of reasons why cold calling “does not work”. Do any of these sound familiar?

  1. I just don’t like doing it!
  2. My list is overwhelmingly large – where’s my starting point?
  3. How do I start a conversation with a cold prospect?
  4. The sales cycle takes too long with cold calls.

Have no fear – each of the above reasons why cold calling “does not work” can easily be rebuked.

why cold calling does not work

I Just Don’t Like Doing It

Often cold calling does not work because it’s seen as an unpleasant task. It seems as if sales people are born knowing they do not like to cold call.  Humans are interesting – if we don’t want to do something, we will find a way to avoid getting it done.

Successful sales people use multiple tools when selling. Phone calls, email, social media, and networking are all examples. Part of a salesperson’s success is the ability to blend and balance these tools and knowing how to sequence them.  The sequence usually changes from prospect to prospect. The tools are applied based on their value and impact.  Too much of one tool and not enough of another limits the ability to maximize success.

Challenge yourself – just because you might not enjoy the act of cold calling, does that really mean it doesn’t work?

My List Is Overwhelming

It is not realistic for someone to sustain a cold calling approach if you have thousands of targeted companies on your list. To see the most success, your list needs to be a manageable size.  If your file is big, try to prioritize it by isolating the best couple hundred.  Large database files lead to exhausting your enthusiasm.

Always keep in mind that this work takes time – you’re building relationships and that does not happen quickly.

How Do I Start the Conversation?

In a business-to-business environment, prospecting via phone calls creates great advantages when done properly.  Here are two examples of how this activity works:

1st – An informative starting point

Assuming you have developed a targeted prospect list (database of who you think is a good prospect), phone calls are a quick way to pre-qualify and prioritize.  You can:

  • Learn who the decision maker is and gather his or her contact information,
  • Learn what their current situation is or when agreements renew,
  • Learn current satisfaction levels.

This is all important information to know while building the foundation for a successful selling opportunity.

2nd – Stay in touch and build relationships 

Once you have gathered key information specific to individual prospects, its smart to stay in touch with them. Along with other methods, phone calls are impactful.  Even if you are unable to get the decision maker on the phone, utilize voice mail messages. Leave your name, remind them that you’re aware of their current situation, and let them know you are interested in earning their business. If you are talking to someone who reports to the decision maker, it’s okay to ask how the current situation is working. Feel free to ask other relevant questions that might help you in the sales process. Again, let this person know your desire to earn their business.

These are smart uses of your time that will advance you through the sales process with prospects.  Blend phone calls with other marketing methods to develop a comprehensive program.

The Sales Cycle Takes Too Long

If you expect to sell your services during early stage development, you will end up disappointed. However, you will certainly experience value in your phone calls if you recognize the importance of capturing key information about your prospects, then advancing through the sales cycle. Again, this is a human-to-human approach – you are building relationships. You will always reap the benefits of the time you put into prospect development.

Why Cold Calling Does Work 

Over time, assuming you apply these disciplines on a consistent basis, you will cash in on wonderful rewards.  These sales activities are very basic and fundamental to selling. They are time tested and complement many other methods such as social media, traditional advertising, email, and networking.

Remember, in a business-to-business environment, often people buy from people they know and trust. Be that sales person the prospect knows and trusts.

The Benefit of Utilizing Multiple Lead Generation Approaches

Let’s say your friend invites you to join on a mountain climbing trip. Your first thought is, “this sounds awesome!” Your second thought might be, “what in the world do I bring to climb a mountain?!”

dunlap-marketing-lead-generation

Mountain Climbing Resources

Here at Dunlap Marketing, we’re not mountain climbing experts. However, we do know there are multiple resources that should be utilized to reach the peak! A rope, harness, helmet, boots, navigation, first aid, and nutrition are a few items that come to mind.

If you chose to bring just one of these along, chances are you wouldn’t make it far up the mountain. Imagine attempting to climb a mountain with just a rope! The various resources work together, helping you accomplish your goal – reaching the top of the mountain.

Lead Generation Resources

In this aspect, lead generation is quite similar to mountain climbing. Utilizing multiple resources will help maximize your results. Telemarketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization, email marketing, direct mail, and content marketing are all examples of lead generation techniques.

When used together, various modes of lead generation complement each other. Utilizing multiple approaches helps to broaden your reach, touching different segments of your target market. Additionally, when they overlap, your message is reinforced.

Set yourself up for success in lead generation, just like you would for mountain climbing – how could utilizing multiple lead generation approaches increase your sales numbers?

Need help getting started? Check out our FREE eBook, or contact us today. 

Kaitlin Dunlap Cuevas – 281.496.9870 x 180 – kaitlind@dunlapmarketing.com

How To Implement A Simple Plan To Sell More Business In The New Year – Utilizing Telemarketing

Originally posted on December 30, 2015 as Start The New Year Smart – Sell More Business

How do you eat an elephant? What a silly question! Adult elephants range from 6,000 – 12,000 pounds – eating all of that would be a very large (no pun intended) and daunting task. But, hypothetically speaking, if you were to eat an elephant, how would you accomplish that?

One bite at a time, of course.

By the way, how does eating an elephant have anything to do with creating a plan to sell more business?

bitesizeelephant

How To Implement A Simple Plan To Sell More Business In The New Year

Generating 70+ new leads in a year might seem like an unrealistic goal, similar to eating an elephant. However, if you break it down into “one bite” increments, you will see how generating 70+ new leads is, in fact, a very obtainable goal.

To start, keep in mind the mentality behind “one bite at a time” is to keep the task at hand, in this case, generating 70+ qualified leads in 12 months, simple and manageable. With this mind set, you will be able to see the impact this method can have on your lead generation, appointment setting efforts, and ultimately, the ability to sell more business.

Here is how you do it:

January:
200 Start with 200 target prospect records (Don’t know how to build a prospect database? We can help with that – “Identifying Your Database for a Telemarketing Campaign”)
3 Make 3 call attempts into each record on average
8 Calling hours required each week to make 3 calls into 200 records (32 hours per month) – this is equivalent to 1.6 calling hours each business day, or 20% of your day
6 Lead opportunities identified in January (generally speaking)
February:
100 Add 100 fresh, new prospect records (300 cumulative prospect records for the year)
+ 100 Existing/prioritized prospect records that justify continued calling (assuming that 50% of January’s 200 do not warrant additional calls this month)
= 200 Total February prospect records
3 Call attempts into each record on average
8 Calling hours required each week (1.6 hours per day)
6 Lead opportunities identified in February
12 Cumulative lead opportunities identified YTD
March:
100 Add 100 fresh, new prospect records (400 cumulative prospect records)
+ 100 Existing/prioritized prospect records that justify continued calling (assuming that 50% of February’s 200 do not warrant additional calls this month)
= 200 Total March prospect records
3 Call attempts into each record on average
8 Calling hours required each week (1.6 hours per day)
6 Lead opportunities identified in March
18 Cumulative lead opportunities identified YTD

Do you get the gist? …We thought so. If you continue this discipline for April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and November, your December will look like this:

December:
100 Add 100 fresh, new prospect records added (1,300 cumulative prospect records)
+ 100 Existing/prioritized prospect records that justify continued calling (assuming that 50% of November’s 200 do not warrant additional calls this month)
= 200 Total December prospect records
3 Call attempts into each record on average
8 Calling hours required each week (1.6 hours per day)
6 Lead opportunities identified in December
72 Cumulative lead opportunities identified YTD

In conclulsion

There you have it, the results of a disciplined approach to the new year– 72 leads in 12 months and now you are a sales pro! As with any lead generation project, some of these will not work out, but the game of numbers tells us a good amount will convert into proposals, then become new customers for you. Additionally, you will have developed a great database (pipeline) of future opportunities.

Lead generation and appointment setting isn’t as bad as you might have thought. By the way, how did that elephant taste?

Kaitlin Dunlap Cuevas – kaitlind@dunlapmarketing.com – 281.496.9870 x180