Keep a regular call cycle with key prospects

By Inka Wibowo

You have a prospect that you’ve been trying to progress for months. Every time you’ve called them, you’ve gotten nowhere; and lately, you’ve been running out of reasons to keep in touch. Suddenly, fate intervenes – Marketing wants to write an article, and they need your prospect’s expert opinion. You can hardly contain your excitement as you pick up the phone with a legitimate reason to call. They answer the phone, and say the words you’ve been dreaming about for months: “Ah, perfect timing. An exciting opportunity has come up and we’d like to talk…”

Sometimes, closing a sale is all about being in the right place at the right time – or rather, being present when a prospect is ready to buy. It’s for this reason that salespeople strive to keep up a regular call cycle with their prospects. They want to ensure that they’re front of mind when a potential customer is ready to buy, and prevent losing out to someone else.

But what’s a valid reason to call? Sometimes, it takes a bit of creativity. Sales might call to:

  • Be an information source, and call with breaking news about changes in the prospect’s industry;
  • Provide new “give away” offers, such as free consulting or a product trial;
  • Invite them to an event; or
  • Get them involved with a community or charity project.

These calls, however, are opportunistic. Businesses can’t count on something newsworthy to come up on a regular basis. If you rely solely on making these kinds of calls, you’ll eventually run out of things to call about. And by then, you may have exhausted hours chasing up a lead that isn’t any closer to buying than they were six months ago.

So what can Sales do to ensure that they remain front of mind, without racking their brains for a new reason to call every time? While the objective of a regular call cycle is to remain positioned with the prospect, there’s another important thing we need to keep in mind: Buyers will not buy unless they are troubled. Therefore, your calls also need to trouble prospects, and highlight the problem that your business solves.

A telenurturing campaign centred around your business’s insights into buyers’ problems is a powerful way to stay positioned with prospects, and to trouble them. By offering to share advice on a problem that is relevant to your prospect, you have a good chance of shaping the rest of their journey when they’re ready to seek a solution for it, and of progressing that journey a little sooner.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. At the beginning of the campaign, call the prospect and explain how the journey will look like: “Every month, I’ll call to share some thought leadership with you that I think you’ll value.”
  2. Remind them that you’ll be available for them whenever they’re ready to progress. “I’ll then validate with you that X months will be a good time to talk.”
  3. Call them up every month (or whatever rhythm makes sense in your business), and briefly share your insight with them. Encourage discussion along the way, and take note of the level of pain that the problem is or isn’t causing them.

Of course, in order to execute this kind of tactic, you’ll need a library of insights to share – and that’s where Marketing can play a part. To ensure that Marketing do their best to support Sales (and help to free up Sales’ precious time), Marketing can be responsible for:

  • Building an arsenal of topics and articles for Sales to share
  • Creating a vehicle to house and share the articles, to allow prospects to further engage with the content (for example, in a newsletter, or on your business’s website)
  • Creating the call plan or script for Sales to use in the call
  • Ensuring that your CRM is structured to capture Sales’ post-call notes
  • Setting up “flags” in your CRM to highlight when a prospect has responded in a way that requires further attention

A rhythmic marketing campaign, such as a newsletter or fortnightly eDMs, can also be used in lieu of a telenurturing campaign as a positioning and troubling tactic, if you find that Sales don’t have the time to execute it. But a telenurturing campaign that’s executed effectively can be priceless in building and maintaining relationships with your prospects, and helping them to progress closer to a buying decision.

funnel-plan-sales-and-marketing-planning-tool