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Attempting to drum up new business without doing your homework is a lot like trying to get dressed without turning the lights on. By not engaging in just a little pre-planning, the whole process becomes needlessly difficult and complex.

Despite this, more than half of all sales calls made within the UK are poorly researched – even though there's now more prospect data available to businesses than ever.

For this reason, a huge disparity has developed between the needs of prospects and the techniques used by businesses to convert sales.

To determine where the biggest problems lie, NewVoiceMedia conducted an in-depth study into B2B sales practices, by asking employees who receive business sales calls about their experience.

Here’s an overview of the results, which shine a light on the potential cost to your business of poor prospecting.

Listen to your prospects

Do you think selling to prospects is about talking and perfecting your sales message? Think again.

68% of respondents claimed that a sales rep who listened to their needs could make the difference between committing to a sale and not.

What’s more, when asked about what they remember the most from a sales call, 57% cited conversations where a sales rep had demonstrated a clear understanding of their needs. 

Selling to prospects shouldn’t be about waiting for your next opportunity to speak – failing to pay enough attention to what a prospect says can cost you money.

This is because potential customers usually drop clues about what’s important to them in conversation – which is exactly the information a good sales rep can use to seal a deal.  

Forget about the hard sell

Most customers hate high-pressure sales tactics. Yet there are still a huge number of sales reps that live and die by the hard sell technique. Even when it works in the short-term, hard-selling can cause long-term customer dissatisfaction. 

Well over half (57%) of respondents said they would be more encouraged to make a purchase from a sales rep that doesn’t hassle or pressure them.

In addition, 49% of respondents said they appreciate sales reps that show empathy and an understanding of their problems – a statistic that reinforces the importance of listening to your prospects.

In a nutshell, an effective sales technique is less about manipulation and more about helping people and building customer relationships. Therefore, if you aren’t pushy or aggressive and can find a way to help prospects, they will be far more likely to convert into happy customers. 

Contact prospects through their preferred channel

Even though 81% of customers prefer contact to be initiated via email, only 36% of sales communications are delivered this way. In addition, 86% of respondents also prefer to be contacted via email before receiving a follow-up call from a sales rep.

Furthermore, 88% of respondents proposed they would be more open to a sales call if they were asked for a convenient time to ring first. While, conversely, 86% said they got annoyed with sales reps that called at unspecified times.

Today, customers value speed, clarity and convenience more than any other previous generation. For this reason, if you want to ensure the maximum level of engagement, it is critically important that you make contact with prospects through their preferred channels.

Ditch the pitch

In the digital age, people are bombarded with marketing messages all day, every day. As a consequence, most prospects have developed an internal defence mechanism that makes them impervious to overused sales techniques, such as prepared sales scripts.

What’s more, 59% of respondents cite generic pitches as the thing that irritates them the most about sales calls.

So, what’s the alternative? The practice of pitching to a prospect should be fluid and natural, as opposed to rigid and rehearsed. Not only that, but a good sales rep ensures they structure a call around asking questions, listening and offering solutions.

When you ditch the pitch and focus on your prospects first, you’ll have a better chance of striking up the conversation that’ll win more deals. Remember: the aim of a call to a prospect should be to initiate a dialogue, instead of a monologue.

Research, Research, Research

Would you be more likely to make a purchase if a sales rep showed evidence of at least five minutes of research? This is a question that was posed to the respondents of our study – and the results were staggering.  

A massive 86% of respondents suggested they would be more likely to place an order if a sales rep could demonstrate that they took the time to research and understand the needs of the company they were calling.

86% also said they would be more encouraged to place an order if a sales rep could identify problems within their business that the product they were selling could solve.

What’s clear is that just a small amount of research can help make your sales efforts more successful. And with the amount of customer prospect data easily available, you have no excuse not to use data-driven insights to increase personalisation, and as a result, close more deals.

 

So many businesses are missing out on sales opportunities by not doing their homework. To make sure you’re not one of them, find out more about the true cost of poor prospecting.

Do you know of any other effective techniques for approaching prospects? Share your tips below.

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About Nicola Brookes

Nicola is RVP Corporate Communications at NewVoiceMedia. She will mostly blog about customer service, industry news, events and company updates. Follow Nicola on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbrookespr

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