Why Inbound Sales Reps Should Educate, Not Book an Appointment on a First Call
Building trust and educating on a first sales call leads to a higher quantity and quality of appointments.
When it takes an average of eight attempts to reach a prospect, you would think the number one priority of a sales rep on a first call would be to book an appointment to demo or discuss the solution they were selling rather than delay this step. However, more and more these days, this is not the case.
The Traditional Approach
Traditionally in inbound sales, the priority of a rep on the first call was to book a demo for a more senior colleague such as a Solutions Expert or VP of Sales. The prospect would have initially shown interest in the solution by viewing marketing content about the product or service. It would then be time for the sales rep to call the prospect and push them further down the sales funnel by setting an appointment.
However, as the inbound sales journey continues to evolve, one thing Greg Warner from iMarketSmart discovered was that there’s now a new, and often necessary step needed between marketing and appointment setting calls. He refers to this as an ‘engagement call,’ or what others may refer to as an educational, discovery or awareness call.
What Is an Engagement Call & What Is It Not
An engagement call is not a call to book an appointment.
It’s a call to advance the relationship by bridging the gap between marketing and appointment-setting. The goal of these calls is to build trust and rapport with prospects. Without trust you won’t sell.
People Buy from People
Engagement calls also allow you to gather more information about the prospect's needs, pains, desires, how they like to buy and who's involved in the buying process. It's a discovery exercise!
How It Works
Once you connect with the prospect, you simply explain that your role is to help connect them with free training or educational materials (such as content from your blog, pre-recorded webinars, podcasts or whatever helpful information you have). Next you ask questions about the prospect, their needs and interests. These questions should help determine if they are qualified for further outreach. Once you’ve captured that information, you confirm their email and ask if you can reach out in a couple of days to make sure the information you sent was appropriate and useful.
Following the call, it’s important to save your notes and conduct additional research so, when you speak to the prospect again, you can quickly build on the trust and rapport you have already created.
Why Use an Engagement Call
The cornerstone of a complex sale is trust and trust grows when people feel they are heard and respected. It develops much further if you give before you ask to receive.
By asking questions and learning about your prospect’s needs, you show that you are interested in them and not just setting up a demo. By giving the prospect resources that can help them, you employ the law of reciprocity. Then, your prospect will be more willing to return the favor when you ask for their time during the follow-up call. At that time, you’ll show your prospect that you listened to them, and you can speak to them directly about their specific needs, something which rarely happens in traditional sales approaches.
As a result, the likelihood that you’ll set an appointment from there will be much higher. Furthermore, the appointment will be set on a foundation of trust and understanding, increasing the likelihood of closing the deal later.
But This Takes Time, Let’s Just Get the Darn Appointment
Sure, it's time-consuming to use a multi-call appointment setting process. It's hard to reach people. So, of course, once you reach your prospect, you might just want to book the darn appointment.
That would be good for you, but selfishness leads to one of the biggest pitfalls in selling. It’s not just about you!
Giving to your prospect, listening to them, educating them, and understanding their needs is good for them, and therefore, it’s good for you too. But it takes time. So you have to be patient to benefit from this multi-step process.
So What Approach Should You Use?
This will always depend on your product, service, industry, needs, and goals. More complex, more highly considered sales will require more steps, more trust and more listening. The key to making inbound sales work successfully is to follow the buyer's journey and a crucial part of this will involve outbound calling.
Business leaders such as Greg, the CEO of MarketSmart, believe single call appointment setting might be dead and that engagement calls may now be 100% necessary to move relationships forward in a mutually beneficial way.
He believes less is now more. Provide value. Build trust. Be patient. From there both the quantity and quality of your appointments, and therefore your sales funnel, will be much higher.
‘Jerk the line too fast and not only will the bait fall off the hook, but you'll lose the fish altogether.’ Greg Warner