There is no spoken rule to the number of outbound calls a business development rep needs to make before they achieve a sale. All business development reps are motivated, eager, and willing to learn the ropes to becoming a star. There are many reports that claim you need up to 10 Touches (Touchpoints) before an engagement will happen. Most business development reps give up before they reach 4.
After 25 years in sales and sales management, I feel I have the authority to provide guidance on prospecting. Below I will share the same advice I provide to my business development reps seeking the Golden Apple.
Business Development Best Practice Tips
Know your product or service.
Without knowledge, your are worthless. This may sound harsh, but its true. As a BDR, you need to understand the value of your product. You need to understand the benefits and the impact it will have on your customer. The day’s of speeds and feeds are long over. For example, if you are talking to a prospect about a dinning room table then mention it has 10 coats of clear lacquer paint, seats 8 people, and is manufacturer in North Carolina. You better hope these attributes were on their “must” have list for a dinning room table. Otherwise, you probably lost the sale.
A BDR must live, breathe, and incorporate best practices into their daily routine.
Asking questions is the best form of gaining knowledge. If you are uncertain about your product or service reach out to the product manager. A PM’s role is to provide a series of features, benefits, case studies, and possibly white papers, depending on the product, to help you sell.
Once a BDR is 100% sold on the product, will they be able to sell the product with confidence.
2. Define and Develop an Automated Process
How many countless hours does a BDR spend doing repetitive tasks – day-in and day-out. What activities do they spend most of their time on? Is it importing lists from services like RainKing, DiscoverOrg, or Insideview? How much time could a BDR gain in their day if redundancies could be minimized? What would you a BDR do with the extra time? Read more articles on becoming a better Business Development Rep? Possibly, or sell more solutions!
After selecting a sales intelligence tool and CRM provider, now its time to create a Touchpoint sequence. How many Touchpoints?
There is plenty of research that supports the notion that 7 Touchpoints are sufficient before dropping a prospect off your radar. In a Salesforce blog, they said 6 to 8 touches before a prospects becomes a lead; Online Marketing Institute suggests 7 to 13 Touchpoints before a prospect becomes a qualified lead; Spear Marketing noted 7 touches; and Marketing Profs say’s 8 touches.
I recommend setting up a drip campaign of 7 to 8. Read this article on How many Touchpoints Should a BDR use?
The key take away is to implement a strategy that clearly defines a sequence of events that reduce the amount of time a BDR spends doing remedial tasks and more time spending selling.
3. Ask Difficult Question
As you are talking to your prospect, its important to push the “limit”. Ask questions that ruffle their feathers. Time and time again, I get business development reps contacting me and they begin telling me why I should do business with their company? They flood my hear with company statistics that I could careless about. I don’t care about your company’s revenue, who your big logo clients are, or how much your product costs? That irrelevant to my business drivers. Ask these type of questions:
- I reviewed your companies financials. I noticed you did not hit your projected financials. Why do you think your earnings report fell short?
- What is holding you back from reaching your (fill in the blank) goals?
- What are you business goals for your (fill in the blank — department, company, etc.) this year?
- If you were able to meet your objectives (personal or business), how would this impact you personally/professionally?
- I noticed your company growth has increased (what ever %) over the last few years, what are your plan to keep up this momentum?
By asking these types of questions, you open up many areas of conversation, both professional and personal. If you are not asking these type of questions, you will never undercover the true business drivers or pain points. And once you do, the “value” you provide will separate you from your competitors. As you build take the prospect down their buying journey, you will build credibility, respect, and trust with the prospect.
Listening is the second most import attribute a business development rep can have next to asking open-ended questions. Have you ever sat with a team of salespeople out for lunch? OMG. They don’t shut up. Each rep try’s to speak over the next loudest person. I’m guilty of it too. I’ve learned over the years to ask more questions, stop, and listen. It amazing all the information you can gather by listening. Remember, you reached out to your prospect to learn about “their” problems, not yours!
The best advice I give to my BDR’s is to have a structured list of questions to uncover the prospects business drivers — it typically does not happen on the first call. The second piece advice. Don’t immediately starting pushing your product. Suggest to the prospects that you would like to schedule a follow up call so you can process the information, discuss it with your consultants or product managers or possibly have another Q&A session.
5. Show Your Human Side
People buy from people they like. Wouldn’t you agree? Don’t ever start pitching your product during the first few minutes of a call. Great BDR’s know that building a connection is key to getting a prospect to have a conversation with you. One way of connecting with a prospect is by using humor. Check out this video on the impact of humor in selling. Michael Dubins created this YouTube video for The Dollar Shave Club for $5,000 and netted him millions of dollars in business. I’m not telling you that you have to spend $5,000 to shoot a video in order to generate sales. I am saying that BDR’s that use humor in sales and in the workplace will become more productive. Mike Kerr, President at Humor at Work
“Great cultures don’t happen by accident, but having humor in the workplace has been shown to drive success in the workplace
I hear this all the time from BDR’s – “this lead is one week old. It’s an old lead and not worth following up. By now, they have found their solution.” And I would agree. Its critical of a BDR to stay on top of any inbound lead. It’s also critical that marketing or sales management automates the process of assigning leads based upon territory assignment. For every hour delayed in a call back, reduces the chance of making a sale.
If you are wondering what days of the week are the best days for follow up? According to a study conducted by Professor Oldroyd from MIT, the best call back days are Wednesday and Thursday.
The behavioural study revealed when sales representatives had success around calling web-generated leads. To find these facts, we looked at leads that were captured through a web form, and attempted or called at least one time. Summarized below are some of the more interesting findings related to speed and timing when responding to web-generated leads:
- Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to call in order to contact (by 49.7% over the worst day) and qualify (by 24.9% over the worst day) leads. Thursday is the best day to contact a lead in order to qualify that lead (by 19.1% better than the worst day).
- 4 to 6pm is the best time to call to make contact with a lead (by 114% over the worst time block). 8-9am and 4-5pm are the best times to call to qualify a lead (by 164% better 1-2pm, the worst time of the day). 4-5pm is the best time to contact a lead to qualify over 11-12am by 109%).
- The odds of calling to contact a lead decrease by over 10 times in the 1st hour. The odds of calling to qualify a lead decrease by over 6 times in the 1st hour. After 20 hours every additional dial your salespeople make actually hurts your ability to make contact to qualify a lead.
- The odds of contacting a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 100 times.
- The odds of qualifying a lead if called in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times.
They key take way is to react fast, be persistent, and make sure you get the prospect on the phone.
By following these simple rules, you will be a top business development performer. Own the relationship. Take charge. Ask the difficult questions. Show why you should be considered an advisor, not just a business development appointment setter.
Good luck selling.
If you need any assistance, please reach out to me.