Most reps don’t have one. We tend to call or e-mail someone, say something random and then if they don’t respond we schedule another activity for a few days later and say something random again (or even worse, we say the same thing) until eventually we give up. The studies say that most reps give up after 2-3 ‘touches’ while it takes an average of 7-10 touches to get an executive on the phone. The main reason for this is because we don’t really think about our contact strategy and therefore we run out of things to say.
Most of the top performers I know are more thoughtful with their approach and they typically have a contact strategy when reaching out to their target accounts. They don’t just make a call, say something random and then make another call a week later. They actually think it through. I don’t think we should have a contact strategy for every single lead that hits our activity list since that would get out of hand. I do think we should have a contact strategy for our top target accounts though.
The contact strategy that I go by is 5 “unique” touches in 30 days. The unique factor is twofold. The first is using a different form of communication each time (call, e-mail, call, mail, e-mail, etc). The reason for this is because some people like communicating in different ways. There is actually a study that supports this this called Neuro Linguistic Programming. It talks about the three main types of communicators: Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic. Each type likes communicating in different ways. For example, Kinesthetics are tactile, slower paced, active listeners and really think through their answers before they give them to you. The best way to sell to a Kinesthetic is face to face, the second best way is e-mail, the worst way is over phone. So, as this relates to your contact strategy, if you make 5 phone calls to a Kinesthetic your chances of them responding drop. This is one reason why we need to mix it up. If you want to learn more about NLP check out this book.
The second factor of “unique” is saying something different every single time. Most of us prospect in two ways, we either call with a very broad elevator pitch or we tell them everything we do in one e-mail or voice mail. For instance, “I do sales training and focus on prospecting, meeting execution, negotiation skills, objection handling and closing.” Those are the five things I do and I can probably warp a nice little message around that. The problem comes when you don’t respond. What is my next call going to be? “Hi, it’s me again. I’m not sure if you heard but we do prospecting, meeting execution, etc.” And if you don’t respond to that one? “I’m just touching base and checking in. I’m not sure if you got my first two messages but we do…” And then we give up because we start feeling stupid. Instead, I’m going to break it up and make my first call about prospecting. You don’t like that one? Fine, my next e-mail is going to be about meeting execution? Still didn’t respond, I’m going to call you about negotiation skills. Hopefully you get the point.
Here’s a recommendation. Schedule 2 hours on your calendar the first day of every month and call it “Quality Prospecting.” During those two hours, take your top 5 accounts, identify an executive at each one of them and map out 5 different reasons to reach out to them. Tell a story. Some of the touches can be based on the research you do on them, some can be about different components of your solution. This ends up being 25 total touches. Once you have them all then schedule them out in your CRM. Literally write out what you are going to say in the activity and schedule them about 4 business days apart. Now you’re done with your “quality” prospecting and you can go do whatever activities you need to do to hit your quantity numbers if your company is holding you to those. Good luck and happy selling.