Premature obituaries have been written about business practices ranging from email to tweeting, but perhaps none more so than outbound calling as a sales model. Proving the naysayers wrong, not only has inside sales hiring been on the rise recently, but new research shows that outbound calling as a sales strategy is more successful than it has been in years.
In a previous article, we discussed how vital it is for B2B sales reps to get high-level executives on the phone. But in the past, it may have seemed easier to get President Obama on the line than a target CEO. But new research from Bridge Group and AG Sales Works shows that more high-level executives are picking up their phones than ever before.
According to the study, the increase in year-over-year reach at the CxO/VP level has shot up 42%! Take that in for a moment. More than 40% of high-level executives are willing to talk to inside sales reps than they were last year.
One of the reasons we’ve noticed that opportunity rates with execs is up is due to sales process automation software. With the right solutions, sales reps better identify key decision makers, cut down research time before calls, minimize CRM data entry and power through call lists faster than ever before. That’s just one reason why we’re constantly beefing up our inside sales automation tools, such as giving reps the ability to instantly switch the phone number that appears in their outbound caller ID.
The climate is right for businesses to redouble their outbound prospecting efforts. In light of this research, here are a few recommendations to help managers create opportunities and drive pipeline.
We’re not recommending that your reps stop calling managers and directors completely. It’s important to establish tiered relationships within an organization. However, you should consider adding more members of the C-Suite as well as VPs to your reps’ call-down lists. This might, of course, entail providing your reps with additional training about how to talk to top-level execs. It could also inspire businesses to add more high-level closers to inside sales teams.
Managers need to be able to identify which members of their team are skilled at getting C-level execs on the phone and creating opportunities. By integrating call metrics with your CRM, you can see in real time which reps are driving opportunities and revenue. It’s also important to gauge whether calling top level execs is, in fact, the best strategy for your industry. After all, even if CxOs are more accessible, it doesn’t mean that they are necessarily driving pipeline. Using Salesforce, you can segment outbound calling campaigns by roles to identify whether calling managers, directors, VPs or CxOs drives more ROI.
The Bridge Group study recommends increasing per-rep conversion requirements by one per day. According to the study, this will “either drive your pipeline through the roof or keep you covered in the event that your market takes a step back.” We think this is sound advice. However, we are also big fans of positive reinforcement to increase engagement. Contests, bonuses, and other incentives can help kick outbound calling into high gear. By benchmarking outbound efforts, investing in the right technology and providing the right training, there are opportunities for tremendous growth.