The ability to create qualified leads -- either through outbound calls, emails or inbound lead management -- has become a science, but even that science still employs some artful tactics that are sometimes completely disregarded. What you say to a prospect is just as important as who you say it to. Knowing your audience and knowing their top challenges so your solution can align with one or more of them will ensure you are successful. Ignoring those kinds of pre-qualifications simply leads to some awkward and obviously silly interactions.
For example, my favorite sales faux-pas these days is when I get an email from a seller that starts with “I left you a voicemail yesterday and wanted to follow up.” That’s a lie and I know it. I don’t have a desk line and haven’t had one for almost nine years. I operate with 2 cellphones, one for work and one for personal calls. It’s easy to see who has called and left a message and who hasn’t, and I know for a fact it wasn’t whoever sent that email. This is a simple tactic cold callers take to send email en masse and not have to pick up the phone. They try to guilt you into responding by making you feel like you forgot to check your voicemail. Sorry -- it doesn’t work.
Another great example: I get emails asking me about whether I would be interested in “buying an email list of x, y or z targets.” My favorites are the ones who ask me if I am interested in buying a list of the “top 150,000 customers for Oracle software.” I work for Oracle, so I'm pretty sure I can get that list easier than you can! When you send out a cold call email, at least de-dupe the list against the recipient and content and don’t try to sell me my own customer list. Doing this ensures I will never do business with you -- pretty much ever.
I also love it when salespeople actually get me on the phone (maybe they did their homework and actually got the right number) and start going on and on about the product they want to sell me, but they never stop to ask me if I'm the decision-maker for that product. I get people trying to sell me everything from hardware to events catering -- and yet when I try to explain that I have no involvement with those purchase decisions, salespeople persist in at least trying to send me more info. Their quota of outbound emails for the week obviously hasn’t been met and they are desperate. I try to be nice, but at some point I have to cut them off.
Sales-qualified and media-qualified leads are where outbound communications should begin. Content development aligned with marketing automation creates a very viable, very scalable solution for pipeline growth.
If you are employing a cold call or cold email strategy, at least align the content with vertical messages that have been researched and tested to ensure they align with the needs of that customer, and try your best to ensure you’ve acquired the right contact when reaching out. If you can demonstrate at least some knowledge about my challenges before the “ask,” I am willing to give you some attention vs. the communications that are clearly bucketed into large groups. I realize there is a numbers game to be worked, but as with everything else in our business, personalization drives performance -- so spend the extra time and do the extra work. The payoff will more than exceed the investment.
Data is your friend, and pre-qualification ID your most important tool. Leverage this wherever you can. Help us stop these horror stories from happening again.