Having been in the B2B telemarketing business for 16 years, we have experienced the boom and bust cycles from the dot.com days through today’s economic recession. It is no surprise that what we have found (both internally and externally) is that during a down economy, cold calling efforts plunge. In fact, studies have shown that during economic rough times, cold calling efforts decrease by up to 38%.
The challenges of a tough economy span the entire sales process from first contact to close. Even the most hardened inside-sales people find it disconcerting that they can’t reach prospects, many of the nurturing prospects they have built relationships with are no longer employed, window shoppers have increased, fulfillments go out with no responses, and sales-ready leads are few and far between. But now is the time to re-double your B2B telemarketing efforts for the near future because eventually, companies will buy the solutions they need to be competitive and will buy from those that are top of mind. A couple of tips to consider:
• Set reasonable and achievable goals (hint: if they are the same as last year, most likely they need to be adjusted to meet today’s economic climate). There is nothing more frustrating than putting in the effort to succeed and coming up significantly short. Is everyone on your team missing their number by a long shot? If so, take a look at your goals or your talent, and make the necessary adjustments.
• Measure and manage the process. Take the value chain for an inside-sales team and work backwards. Are they hitting lead goals? Are they having discussions with decision makers? Are they getting referrals? Are they making dials? Are they at work? At the Lead Dogs, we monitor all of these and more to make sure we can focus on both individual AND team dynamics. Then we correct and improve on the process by coaching, training, and more management. If it is “skill,” we can fix it; if it is “will” we can change it.
• Focus on short-term success metrics. Focusing on short-term successes and milestone accomplishments will help everyone on the team. Sure, you need to set achievable long-term B2B telemarketing goals and should be consistently tracking progress, but as long as you are moving through the sales process, you are making headway in a brutal market. At The Lead Dogs, we often celebrate “referrals” as these prove to have higher conversion rates to opportunities than names on sourced lists and our representatives appreciate our recognition. Sure, these are not as valuable as leads but occur much more often and keep the feeling of accomplishment high on a daily level.
• Encourage positive attitudes. Some of the oldest and best techniques still work for many people. Keep a mirror on team members’ desks, ask them to stand up before making a few calls, or have team huddles at the beginning or end of day to discuss small “wins.” Having contests or team building events have worked well for us. Sometimes it is the small stuff that goes a long way. It’s proven that an optimistic salesperson outperforms their peers; so find what works for your team and implement it now.
If you are experiencing challenges in keeping your performance and attitudes high in this difficult recession (dare I say recovery), address these issues and if you need assistance, let us know. At the very least, we can share our B2B telemarketing best practices with you, as they are core to our company and what keeps us in business!