Teleprospecting for New Business Opportunities
The epitome of early-stage business development is making your very first teleprospecting calls into a new prospect list. As you have likely experienced with B2B business development, at the beginning of the nurturing process, it’s highly unlikely to make a sale during your first few interactions with a prospect. Sure, “right place at the right time” scenarios happen, but not frequently. However, an outcome that is more likely to occur is identifying companies that will soon be in the market for your services. Because of this, it is wise to set your expectations as “getting the sales process started” when engaging in early-stage business development.
A conversation we have almost every time we build a campaign for a client is:
Who do we need to talk to?
Most commonly, our clients’ response is:
But, is this always the best approach for getting your sales process started? Our question then becomes:
Is it realistic to get the decision maker on the phone?
Usually at this point, our clients start scratching their heads…
Typically, decision makers are difficult people to get on the phone – as a general rule of thumb, the larger the company, the more difficult it is to reach the decision maker. If the objective of your cold calling efforts is to get the sales process started, and if a mid to long-term sales process is common, why not increase your likelihood of having a productive conversation and broaden your reach to include decision influencers. These are people who may not be directly involved with the decision making, but are knowledgeable about future plans, and likely have a measurable contribution to the future decision.
In our experience, decision influencers are more willing to take phone calls and are more available to offer insight into the company’s future plans. Because this is early-stage business development, a major goal in a conversation is to identify future purchasing plans. It’s too early in the process to ask for a decision to be made – you are simply trying to determine the timing of future plans.
We use this analogy frequently inside our office:
If you are on a first date with someone, is it normal to talk about wedding plans, or should you spend time getting to know each other? Should you learn what the likes and dislikes are of the other person? Should you learn about their needs?
Over time, as you nurture a relationship, you then, start talking about the serious topic of a long-term commitment.
It is perfectly acceptable to start building a relationship with the decision influencer. During this journey, you will be able to learn more about the likes and dislikes of the company, and what the important elements are that you can build your sales strategy around. There is a lot to be learned, but do not lose sight that you still need to ultimately connect with the decision maker. If you are successful at building trust with the decision influencer, chances are, they will introduce you to the decision maker.
In summary, this approach is most beneficial when your target prospects are large companies with layers of people. If you are cold calling into small and mid-sized companies, keep working to connect with decision makers as well.