4 simple steps to setting more qualified sales meetings

Posted November 20, 2017

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By Chelsey Feldman

Product Marketing at Outreach

Do have a minute? How about 1,512? That’s about how many minutes are slipping away from the average sales rep on a weekly basis. The majority of sales reps spend 63 percent of their work week completing tasks other than selling, according to a new time management study. When you finally get your prospects on the phone, that's why it's critical to make every minute count.

Wasting time on unqualified leads can seriously constrain your ability to hit your quota and grow your business. Nobody is manufacturing time, as far as anyone knows, so the sales reps who learn how to use their time most effectively are always going to carry a huge advantage. You could and should be prioritizing the prospects who will be more likely to convert, but how do you know which ones those are? The answer is using intelligent qualification, but at the same time you must be careful not to let juicy accounts slip away due to lack of attention.

Here are four simple steps you can take today to set more qualified sales meetings and better invest your time with prospects that are more likely to convert.

1. Target your prospecting

The best way to maximize the amount of meetings you have with qualified leads is to focus most of your energy on those qualified prospects who are most likely to be a fit for your tool. It seems obvious, but you're probably rolling your eyes over that time you got through a demo only to realize your prospect was about as good of a fit as your high school prom dress/suit was when you tried it on "just to see if it still fits" last year. Make sure you review our prospecting guide, so you focus on the best prospects, and check in to catch yourself before you go down a rabbit hole of booking meetings just for the sake of booking meetings. Do your due diligence on networks like LinkedIn important qualifying questions early on (ie- does this prospect even have the right tech stack for your solution?) to better invest your time on leads that are likely to convert.

Warning: Take this tip with a grain of salt. Focusing on your most qualified sales prospects doesn't mean ignoring any prospect outside that category, especially if they might be a fit. It's ok to think creatively about your qualifications. For instance, our main customers are sales teams like yours. But recruiters, marketers, etc. often have similar needs for outbound sequencing in their roles. Some of our best customers include not only sales teams, but also recruiting and marketing teams! As with all guidelines, allow for some flexibility and check how you're spending your time with some simple common sense.

2. Prioritize decision makers

It’s getting harder to tell up front if your prospect has the decision-making power to close the deal. Often those who demonstrate interest are just purchase influencers but don’t have the actual authority to move forward. Booking a meeting for the sake of booking a meeting won't help you close any game changing deals. Don’t hesitate to ask for an internal reference to the final decision-maker if your initial lead isn't that person.

Personal introductions will do wonders for your chances of making headway, because 59 percent of buyers on average don’t want to interact with a sales rep, according to a study by Forrester. They’d rather do their research online because, they say that sales reps tend to push a sales agenda instead of trying to solve a problem. Prove to them that you are different. Most of all, never forget that appointments represent a huge time commitment before, during and after the event. Reserve them only for those prospects with the highest chance of closing.

3. Ask the right questions

"There are no right answers to the wrong questions."

The most important thing you can do in the initial stages of prospecting is to ask hyper-targeted, on point questions. Ask questions, both in your research (sales intelligence will be your best friend here) and in conversations with the prospect. Think through their needs, challenges, and goals, and ask yourself if you realistically are offering what they need to overcome those challenges and reach their goals. Try to take care of the low hanging fruit (their tech stack, their use cases) on discovery calls before you invest too much time in an unqualified lead.

A great exercise to practices is to think past the sale into what life will be like if this prospect becomes a customer. Does your solution really fit in well with what the prospect is trying to accomplish? What are they actively using in their technology stack and how well do you integrate with that? Don't sell promises to a prospect who might not be the best fit for the sake of hitting this month's quota. Customers who aren't having their needs met by your product are not going to be happy - and you can expect they'll churn and share their experiences with others.

4. Know your prospect’s history

Do your due diligence and research your prospect online, just as they are doing for you. Top sales reps become experts at quickly conducting three levels of research — for the industry level, the company level and at the contact level. Make notes inside Outreach using Sales Intelligence Tiles about the most salient points you find -- both for your own benefit and for the benefit of the other rep or AE on your team you hand your prospect off to.

When reviewing prior notes on the prospect, try and understand their history: Were they previously lost to a competitor? Did you talk to them six months ago, but they didn't have budget back then? In addition to historical data, be aware of what has changed in their world recently, and what that might imply. A quick search could bring up a news report that your prospect’s company just laid off half its staff and closed a location. In that case, now might not be the best time to make your pitch for them to invest money in a new tool, no matter how awesome your product is.

The final countdown

Every second counts. Don't be afraid to walk away from (or get off the phone with) an unqualified prospect. You don’t have to set that bridge on fire, though, because things like budget and technology prerequisites are prone to change rapidly. Your previously unqualified prospects could easily shoot up your priority list.

Odds are that at least half of your organization’s value creation depends on sales, which means everyone is counting on your to make the business a success. No pressure, right? Don’t sweat it. With the right tools, the right targeting and the right preparation, you can be far more productive during the sliver of time you have to do the job you were hired for in the first place.


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