The sales call still has an important role to play in most organisations. 55 per cent of respondents in a recent survey of B2B marketers stated that sales calls were the most common method used for following up with qualified leads, and the vast majority stated that they use mostly, or exclusively offline/human methods for lead qualification. Despite the rise of digital marketing, human interactions still matter, and in the B2B sector particularly, sales calls are important to instigate or facilitate the buying process. However, whilst offering enormous value - relevant and engaging conversation can increase a response by 800%* - a call done badly has equal potential to undermine a sales interaction and negatively impact your brand.
What is a ‘Bad Call?’
We’ve all been on the receiving end of a pushy, ‘salesy’ call that builds little to no rapport from the outset. A poorly executed conversation can quickly isolate or annoy a customer, and leave a poor impression of your company or brand. If you haven’t done your homework and the conversation isn’t open and engaging, the customer will be unresponsive and will look to end the call. A bad call not only impacts the immediate opportunity but also the potential to develop an enduring relationship with your customer.
How does this happen?
Many different factors influence the quality of a sales call. The data you source may not contain the right audience or may be inaccurately profiled or segmented, creating a mismatch between your proposition and your prospect’s interests. Even before you reach your contact, poor data can impact your bottom line, with time wasted trying to find the right number, or with multiple call attempts to try and reach the right contact. Alternatively, your proposition or messaging may be unclear, or you may have a poorly defined USP that fails to grab attention.
If the caller is ill-prepared, and has not researched the prospect in advance, they have no credible foundation on which to build rapport. Their style may be out of sync - overly aggressive perhaps, or scripted and unnatural - so that the customer does not feel there is genuine interest in their needs and requirements. A one-way conversation will create superficial engagement at best and lead the customer to switch off very quickly. This type of approach may be down to the style or skill of the individual. Alternatively, it may reflect the fact that they are under pressure to achieve quick-wins, due to an emphasis on lead volume versus lead quality at a company level.
The bottom line
We have discussed the most common characteristics and elements of a bad phone call, now let’s shift our attention to the moniker of the piece: the bottom line. If, like many others, your organisation uses the phone as a key input to its sales pipeline, how those calls are executed and the quality of interaction they achieve, can have a significant impact on your bottom line.
Here are six reasons why…
- Poor Quality – poor quality calls produce poor quality leads with little propensity to convert to opportunity or sale, wasting any investment in data or lead generation. Whilst the customer may agree to a follow up, they may do so just to end the call, without any genuine commitment. Without a solid conversation around the customer’s interests and requirements, neither party has a clear understanding of whether the product is a good fit for their needs.
- High Volume/Poor Quality - high volumes of weak, poorly qualified leads detract time away from ‘sales ready’ leads. Time and costs are intrinsically entwined. If your valuable sales resource is dealing with a stream of low value leads, they are diverted away from real sales opportunities with genuine commercial value for your business.
- High Value Outcomes - poor quality calls, which fail to gain credibility and trust with your target audience, fail to generate higher value outcomes including face to face appointments. High value outcomes require a genuine connection and commitment between both parties, essential components within a successful and sustainable B2B sales process.
- Customer Insight – an engaged two-way conversation can provide valuable insight, not only into the customer’s interests and buying stage, but also the strength of your proposition, the clarity of your message and the relevance of your product and offering. This type of actionable insight not only increases the potential of the sales team to convert the lead, but also allows you to hone your message and offer based on real customer feedback, improving the success of future campaigns.
- Market Intelligence – a call with a fully engaged customer has the potential to reveal valuable intelligence about your target market and audience. It can alert you to competitor activity in your chosen segment, to industry trends, or upcoming legislation that informs your sales and marketing strategy, helping you increase your profitability and market share.
- Company Reputation – a credible call will enhance and increase your brand value. On the contrary, a call that alienates your customer can harm your reputation with that individual. If the call happens to be with a key decision maker at one of your key accounts, the damage may have wider consequences, restricting your ability to develop that account in the longer term.
As a specialist B2B telemarketing agency, our callers engage daily with senior decision makers on behalf of our clients; this is our area of expertise. We understand how the quality of a call is critical to our ability to nurture relationships, capture insight and intelligence and generate good quality leadsto feed a sustainable sales pipeline. Whether you are cold calling to create a lead, looking to progress and convert a warm lead or develop a longer-term commercial relationship, a bad sales call is a waste of resource and a wasted opportunity.
* Source Sci Sales Group