Thoughts from Mike Dunlap, President of Dunlap Marketing
Though very necessary, we all know that hunting for new business is challenging. And, it became more challenging with the pandemic. One of the biggest obstacles is the added dynamic based on remote working. Often with prospecting, getting past the gatekeeper or auto-attendant and to the correct decision-maker is the first big step. However, with the pandemic, we now frequently find out that the decision-maker is working from home. Some phone systems are advanced enough to transfer the call to a cellphone or house office; however, other systems are not capable of doing the transfer.
If you agree that prospecting is important and it needs to continue, how do you handle this new layer of challenge? In our office, we have learned that when you learn the decision-maker is working remotely, about 80% of the time when you ask, you are given a way to connect with the person. The key is, you have to ask. Yes, it takes more legwork, more time, and a few more call attempts are added to the process. But ultimately, you are able to establish a conversation.
We have also learned that about 50% of the time, we are unaware of being transferred to a remote office. With all calls we make, one-third of the time the decision-maker is remote, the company is unwilling to provide us with contact information. In these instances, we become more reliant on voicemail and email communications. During the pandemic, we find ourselves using voice mail and email as a way to at least get our clients’ names in front of prospects. The good news is since COVID, we have seen an improvement in prospects responding to voicemails and emails.
Two months ago, an account representative for one of our clients sold an account that represents more than 50% of his yearly quota. It was a huge success. In reviewing the history of the prospect that included multiple years of tracking, we learned that the decision-maker was working remotely because of COVID. The best we were able to do was leave voicemail messages for her. We also followed up with periodic emails. Then, she finally took our call. The timing became right for her, the appointment was set, and within 45 days the account was sold.