Sales Leaders Virtual Meetup: How to Get a First Meeting with a Prospect

Getting that first meeting with a prospect is tougher than usual. Our last virtual meetup was centred around ways to not only get that first meeting but to make it count. Hosted fantastically by ESP’s MD & Founder, Paul Thomson, and joined by Calum Kilgour and John Bissett from Slingshot Edgeas always! Here’s the rundown of what happened in last week’s session… 

It’s fair to say 100% of the Sales Leaders agreed that 100 calls a day is a thing of the past *hears the distant cheer of all salespeople* but there were a few differences in whether cold calling is completely dead. It’s important to remember that there is no absolute way of doing things – most of these methods come from trying and testing and different audiences will call for different methods 

The Sales Leaders discussed a few reasons why cold calling is dying out: 

  • It’s been replaced with other more effective means of getting a good quality first contact with people. 
  • Some audiences are getting increasingly harder to reach. The old school method of talking to the right people in the business to get to the Big Boss is obsolete. 
  • The traditional style of cold calling 100 people a day is time consuming and a waste of time at that.  

Why is cold calling being replaced with other means? 

  • Roughly, 100 calls a day could result in 20 meaningful connections. Effective outreach can reach hundreds and make a lasting impression! 
  • Yes, LinkedIn IS saturated with meaningless content. However, people are wising up to it and breeding new methods to counteract that. One of the attendees told the group about a brilliant idea called ‘pods’ which consists of a marketeer, a salesperson, and a subject matter. This way, the content that is getting put out is more likely to be effective.  
  • To get the most of out the customer and the pods, the customers can be worked through an interaction funnel. 

The Interaction Funnel: A brilliant attendee shared what his company have called the interaction funnel. In a similar vein to mapping a lead through a sales funnel, the prospect can be brought through the funnel depending on their interaction with the content. Different levels of the funnel will steer towards different conversations and have varying prioritisation. Where the prospect is in the funnel can be navigated through marketing technology tools that track whether they opened a certain email or engaged with a certain piece of content. 

What kind of content is working? 

  • An attendee shared the success his company had been having from conducting their own primary research. The process takes longer but it is worth it for the content that it can give. This helps to cut through the noise of one thought leadership piece after another on LinkedIn! 
  • Sector specific case studies have also been found useful. Not only does it demonstrate on a wide level the amazing things that the company has done, it’s great and relevant content to send to customers before trying to move to the call. 

Quite a few of the Sales Leaders attending the session thought cold calling has been dead for a while now. However, ‘warm calling’ is considered more appropriate term– the process of teeing up a prospect through various interactions before making that call.  

How to approach a ‘warm call’: 

  • Getting the first call be a mission so it’s paramount to make every second count. The consensus amongst the Sales Leaders was back to basics but so important – be more prepared than you’ve ever been for a call.  
  • It’s imperative that the seller has something important to say that they know the customer will want to hear as well as understand what’s going on in their industry and their business. 
  • One attendee said it isn’t about getting to the ‘are you interested?’ bit of the call as quick as possible, it’s about getting under the skin of what’s really challenging them at the moment. 
  • Rather than a call, ‘warming up’ the prospect could come from engaging with them on LinkedIn, Whatsapping or texting them.  

Is anyone still cold calling, then? 

While some of the Sales Leaders at the session thought that cold calling is completely dead, a few of the attendees thought that cold calling is still very much alive. This doesn’t mean 100 calls a day, everyone agreed that’s out of the window, but some reported having success this year from cold calling. Many feel like LinkedIn is saturated with vapid content so arguably, the channel itself is less important than the message.  

Apreviously stated, salespeople must be meticulously prepared for the call as there has been no previous interaction between them, the customer isn’t going to be happy about taking the call to begin with. Many, if not all, of the attendees agreed that answering phone calls from a number that isn’t in their phone book is a big ‘no’. Even if it’s not an immediate ‘no’, it’s at least an eye rolling moment. So, how can a salesperson quickly warm up the customer?  

In comes the infamous chimp brain, the brainchild of Calum Kilgour and John Bissett. The chimp brain controls your emotions and has automatic reactions to scenarios that it remembers. It’s great at remembering repeated patterns so when it hears I’m *name* from *company*, can I have five seconds of your time? or a sentence to that effect, it knows this is a cold call. Nobody likes receiving cold calls, so it is so important to break up that pattern by starting the phone call with something else completely. John spoke about going against the grain entirely of a typical salesperson pitch. An example of this is something like, “this is one of those dreaded sales calls, do you want to hang up or shall I quickly tell you about…”. Something like that will massively confuse the chimp side of the brain and as we’ve learnt from previous sessions, this emotional, chimp brain does NOT handle being confused well. So, it becomes more suggestible to listening to what the salesperson has to say.  

This is a small portion of everything that was discussed during our last virtual meet up. The Sales Leaders share their situation, what’s been working for them, what they’re struggling with, and together they explore solutions. It’s a great space for likeminded people to have an open conversation about business right now. Next week, the main topic is how to use video to your advantage. This can be through many different mediums – Zoom, LinkedIn, email, etc. We’ve had success in our own business through sending videos to clients that can provide more detail, showcase personality, and speed along the process. One of the attendees in last week’s session shared that he had gotten inspiration from a previous event of ours to use LinkedIn videos which he was planning on testing with his team – we’re excited to hear the results from that! There’ll be loads of tips and tricks that will be shared so if this something you’re interested in, click HERE to register! 

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What's been going at ESP?

Like most businesses, ESP has had ups and downs in the face of the pandemic. Our MD & Founder Paul Thomson has shared these every week since March with his LinkedIn network and we've summarised them.

Read here!