Why your Teleprospecting Team is Losing Sales (And how to get them back)

teleprospecting man on team

A Typical Teleprospecting Team

  • You have hired a team of junior folks, whom you have trained.
  • Their base pay is in the $25K-$45K range and your company throws in a few bucks, when a lead is accepted by Field or Inside Sales
  • You have provided the scripts and CRM for the Teleprospectors to use
  • The team has been given additional sales tools, such as objection management documents, which they can use if a conversation goes south
  • They have been assigned daily/weekly/monthly metrics, such as 50-70 dials, per day, 5-10 Key Contacts, per day, etc.

Why Your Teleprospecting Team Isn’t Making the Cut

Your Teleprospecting team is well armed and ready to make calls. The problem is that if and when they get Sr. Executives on the phone, they are not able to translate these calls into viable leads. More times than not, Teleprospectors crumble at the first objection and end their calls. Or they call lower-level titles, in the prospect organization. Non-decision makers tend to be accessible and easy to speak with. However, leads from non-decision makers are not viable and tend to be rejected by Field or Inside Sales.

Companies see Teleprospecting as a junior-level position. I believe that this is the wrong way to think about Teleprospecting. Let’s consider that the Teleprospector is probably the first person from your company that your prospect will engage with. The Teleprospector, therefore, needs to be seasoned and experienced to handle the nuances of a first call. The argument that I have heard, many times, is that Teleprospectors aren’t closing business. They are qualifying prospects for interest. I beg to differ. Every communication with a prospect is an opportunity to close. There are many closes to consider: to close for the next meeting; to close on getting to a viable decision maker; to close for a trial or demo. Companies need to hire people who can close at any stage of the cycle. This is another reason why they should consider hiring seasoned professionals for this role.

Seasoned people have the experience to understand business drivers and what drives the people who make business decisions. Junior level people don’t have the experience or understanding of these concepts. It takes a lot of time, many, many, many phone calls and trial and error to understand these concepts.

Many years ago, I was asked to set up a Teleprospecting Organization for a SaaS company whose product significantly reduced energy spend for the manufacturing and utilities industries. Our prospects were CIO’s at Fortune 500/1000 companies. It was a complex solution with a long sales cycle (9-18 months). I knew that I needed to hire the most skilled people to ensure that we could navigate the issues prospects might throw at us, each day.
The team that we hired received a base salary of $70K with their total compensation reaching $125K, at plan. At first, the CEO was concerned that we were paying this team too much. However, after he saw the results of his pipeline (it was rapidly increasing) he changed his mind.

 

Real Life Example

Below is a real call that one of my Teleprospecting Reps had with the CIO of a Multi-National Food Manufacturer

Dave Teleprospector: Hi Mike, This is Dave, with XYZ Company. Our solution enables companies like yours to reduce energy spend by 50%, year over year. Our clients include _,_ and_. The purpose of my call is to understand your needs and to determine if we might have a solution for your company.

Mike Prospect: Dave I received your company’s email blast and I am not interested.

Dave Teleprospector: Mike, so what you are telling me is that you are not interested in reducing your company’s energy spend? Mike, I recently read an article in XJournal, where the research showed that most CIO’s stay in their positions for under 18 months because CIO’s are perceived as being ineffective. I’ll be happy to send you that article. The reason why I mention the article is because our solution can help you reduce your company’s energy spend by 50% or greater, which could help to make you highly effective.

Mike Prospect: Dave, that is very interesting. Yes, it would help me to find out how we might reduce our energy spend. Currently our energy spend is a significant part of our operating budget.

Dave was able to qualify this account and pass it on as a highly qualified lead for his Sales Rep. This lead went to the sales funnel, after the Field Rep had his first meeting with the prospect.

This Teleprospector was highly qualified to speak to any C-Level Executive because of his Experience

  1. Dave knew that C-Level Execs are easier to reach in the early AM or later PM.

    He managed his weekly schedule so that he would be making his dials to his significant prospects, during these times.

  2. Dave did his research.

    He was constantly sourcing information about the industry, his company’s technology and trends that might of interest to his prospects. He knew that C-Level Exec’s would be interested in information that would be of help to them or their company. He was always learning, in order to be prepared for any call. He could discuss the significant business drivers that would interest his prospects, at any time during his calls.

  3. His conversations were never scripted 

    (He used a guide with key messages and questions) and his messages were targeted to the titles he was planning to call. He had a message for CIO’s, CEO’s, COO’s, each somewhat different, however, each addressed the interests of the specific title he was calling.

  4. Dave would regularly call his assigned Field Reps to ask them about their worst sales calls and best sales calls, each week.

    He would ask them what they could have done or said, differently. He used this information to tailor his messaging and up his game.
    Dave had over 5 years of Sales experience, before I hired him. He was not trained, per se, to do the above. Out of his experience and good instincts, he was able to develop a set of skills that helped him to generate extremely valuable leads for his sales team members.

Example Call between a Junior Teleprospector and a C-Level Executive

Junior Teleprospector: Hi Mike, This is Junior, with XYZ Company. Our solution enables companies like yours to reduce energy spend by 50%, year over year. Our clients include _,_ and_. The purpose of my call is to understand your needs and to determine if we might have a solution for your company.

Mike Prospect: Junior, I received your company’s email blast and I am not interested.

Junior Teleprospector: Mike, can you tell me why you are not interested?

Mike Prospect: I actually am pretty busy right now. Why don’t you send me some literature and if I think there is a need, I will give you a call.

Junior Teleprospector: Mike, sure thing. I’ll send you our brochure and if I don’t hear back from you in say 2-3 months, would it be ok to give you a call to see if your situation has changed.

Mike Prospect: Sure, that will be fine.

The call with the Junior Rep has kept this Fortune 500 Multi-National Food Manufacturing Company from being included in the sales funnel for a while, if not forever. It might take hundreds of calls, like this, before a Junior Teleprospector has enough confidence and experience to effectively manage their prospect conversations.

Although the Junior Rep call is not based on a real call, the gist of it is based on my experience with managing many Junior-Level people, at over 50 companies. A call center Manager can provide some guidance, but they can’t sit in on every call, made by every Rep in their center. And, it is illegal to record calls, in many states, now. So a lot of trial and error goes on, at your company’s expense. The end result is a frustrated sales team, a sales funnel that is full of junk or no sales funnel at all. In short, a lot of frustration and missed opportunities happen when junior level people do prospecting.

How to Make Teleprospecting the Best Part of your Sales Organization

  1. Give the role a different title.

    There is something negative about Titles that start with Tele (Telly). Many of the Sales VP’s that I have worked with said Tele-Marketing or Tele-prospecting in a very disparaging way. Just because the meetings are via the telephone (Telly-Phone) it doesn’t follow that these meetings are not important. Like I said earlier, the first contact with your prospect is often via the phone and could be very important to your company. Change the title to Corporate Sales Rep, New Business Development Rep, Funnel Development Rep, Pipeline Builder or Sr. Hunter, for example. A title, such as these, will immediately elevate the position and credibility of the team member.

  2. Find people who have at least 5+ years of experience selling complex solutions, either over the phone or in the Field.

    The bad news is that many people lost their jobs, during the great recession of 2008-2009. The good news is that these ex-Field/Inside Sales Reps want to get back to work and are happy to do prospecting. I know this because these are the types of people we hire at SOMAmetrics. It is better if your Sr. Hunters have had to carry a quota, in the past. They get the concept of a qualified lead, pipeline and revenue, while a junior person, and might not. During the interview process you can find out if the candidate likes phone work and if he/she has carried a quota. Email me at alicia@somametrics.com, if you’d like to receive my effective and proven Inside Sales/Teleprospecting interview questions.

  3. Pay well

    Highly qualified leads that are with decision makers are priceless. They increase the productivity of your Sales Reps and build pipeline faster and more efficiently than leads from lower level titles. In the long run, if you hire skilled Sr. Hunters, you will increase the quality of your leads and the productivity of your sales team. Every company, I know, wants a productive sales team.

  4. Keep hours flexible.

    While it is important for your Sr. Hunters to meet their metrics, let them work a more flexible schedule. C-Level Execs are available in the early AM or later PM. As long as your Sr. Hunters are meeting their daily/weekly/monthly metrics, they don’t need to start at the same time, each day (7-4 or 8-5, for example). They may want to start as early at 5 AM, one day (especially if they reside in Western States) or come in as late as 10 AM and stay until 7 PM, for example.

In short, treat this position as you treat your Field or Inside Sales Teams; as very important contributing members of the sales team. Hire people with experience and pay well. You will reap the benefit of their experience and ability to uncover real need from real decision makers. Your pipeline will build faster and your close ratios will improve. All good!

I have personally implemented over 50 Inside Sales and Teleprospecting organizations at technology companies. Please email me alicia@somametrics.com, if you want my advice or assistance with your Teleprospecting teams.