Prospecting and Lead Generation Best Practices

Sales is a big part of a company’s success, in manufacturing, and across many other industries. Having proper prospecting, cold calling, and appointment setting strategies is crucial to the success of a sales team. In a recent chat for USA Manufacturing Hour on Twitter, Co-hosts Cherise Kennerly from SalesLeads and Katie McDermith, The Manufacturing Hype Girl, from MNI, led a discussion on Prospecting and Lead Generation Best Practices.


Acquiring Data

The chat began with the group sharing how they currently acquire data for business development.

David Crysler from The Crysler Club said, “ LinkedIn and Google are my “Go-To’s”

Dave Meyer from BizzyWeb said, “We do a lot of outreach and events, advertising, Inbound Marketing and focus on content for SEO. I'm on stage all over the country and always link back to our site and to landing pages for each event.

Ruby Rusine and the Social Success Marketing team replied, “Research. Looking at reliable data.”

Chase Bodor from Plastic Plus Technology said, “Our best business has come from referrals - we do however get inbound leads and leads from networking (online and in person)

To which Michelle Riccetto Brash Inc agreed, “On Point”

Whitney Koch from Welker Inc said, “Good question...going to go with trade shows, industry news, and existing customers.

Jasmine LaBelle from Velavu Tech said, “Databases are EVERYTHING.”

Co-Host McDermith said, “I have used many databases over the years, but IndustrySelect from @MrfrsNews was/is my fav. ;) that's how I started here.

Adam Baker from Schooley Mitchell said, “a lot of internet stalking. The majority of our business is referrals, so we don't do much cold outreach, but for clients I specifically want to work with, I do a lot of internet sleuthing to gain insights.

Julia Gardner from Hourly – Insurance & Payroll replied to Baker, “Agreed, internet stalking will get you pretty far these days!

Missy Moorefield Southern Fasteners and Supply said, “Our sales folks do some cold calling, they attend and/or exhibit at various trade shows...”

Emily Kite from Obsidian Manufacturing said, “We have developed our inbound marketing strategies as of the past few years. We also have recently taken a step forward in our outbound strategies by doing research on a few different databases and the general web as a whole.

Co-hosts Cherise Kennerly from SalesLeads and Kati McDermith The Manufacturing Hype Girl from MNI answered, “We have found that data accuracy, timeliness and depth of company and contact information are critical to successful business development.”


Touch Points

The hosts then asked the participants how many touch points they use before removing a contact from their list. The group discussed.

McDermith said, “I tend to only remove a prospect from a list only if I have disqualified them.”

Gardner replied, “Reasonable!”

Kirsten Austin from DCSC Inc. said, “If we find out a contact is no longer there, we NLC (No Longer Contact) them in our CRM System but still leave any notes from past conversations. But not sure on how many touch points.

Meyer said, “It really depends on the type of interaction. If they're in an inbound workflow, and engaging with each contact point. However, if on first outreach we don't get engagement, we'll typically nope-out after 3 touchpoints. No spam tolerance here.”

Moorefield said, “Eek.. that's a good question and one I don't know the answer to. But now I wanna ask some of our salespeople this question.”


Gardner replied, “To the sales department”

Co-host Kennerly said, “Remember, touchpoints can include calling, emailing, texting, or any type of social media (if connected.)

Rebecca Prox said the Digital Marketing Pro said, “I'm pretty sure we haven't removed anyone, ever. But we do segment based on their interactions with us.”

Austin replied to Prox with, “Great answer Rebecca!”

Koch said, “I don't know that we have a number. I am not confident we have set process for lead nurturing.

Bodor said, “I don't have a set number. But if they're a good fit, I try to keep them in the MQL cycle until they opt-out.

Kite said, “Depends on the response we get upon first contact and method of contact. I don't work within our sales team day-to-day but having worked with them on this type of thing I'd say about three with no response between a variety of methods of contact.

The co-hosts answered with, “The industry average now states 11 touches is the norm before anyone responds.”


Cold Calls

The group then shared whether or not their sales team is making cold calls.

Rusine said, “No we don't.

McDermith said, “ours don't BUT I DO! Watch out!”

Prox said, “ I don’t know.”

Gardner replied to Prox with “Same”

Meyer said, “We really try hard to avoid cold calling, and if we do make cold calls it's never against a sale (it's inviting to an event, or sharing a helpful bit of info). Same with buying lists, which is a HARD, hard pass.”

Rusine replied to Meyer with, “We share the same principles especially the buying of lists.

Chris Giglio from Zero Surge said, “Not yet, it's definitely something we need to do more often but it can be hard to make time for this due to other work taking up our schedule. Especially since these are some of the more difficult calls to make.”

Co-host Kennerly said, “There are hunters and reapers. How would you describe your sales team?”

McDermith replied, “I think I am the net-caster, Jennifer is the bait setter!

Kite said, “Yes! More so cold contacts with all different types of contact methods nowadays. But usually a combination of using phone, email, and LinkedIn to contact leads.

Baker said, “My team does make cold calls but it's not very fruitful. Our service, while unique, sounds very similar to someone trying to get you to switch phone or utility providers.”

Kennerly replied, “Are you targeting your ICP? These are companies that resemble your best customers. It can make all the difference.

Baker answered, “They do - but do it from a "this size business, this industry", etc. What I've found is that a lot of our success is actually with a personality type - women and minority business leaders tend to be more willing to hear ideas that might be "outside the box".”

Moorefield said, “I know that some of them (most?? all??) do.”

Koch said, “I am pretty confident they are not...”

Bodor said, “You bet I am! But I'm not big on it because WFH made it much more difficult to reach people. I found it better to connect with your ICP in places they already spend so you can focus on deeper interactions than just phoning it in (pun intended).

Pavel Stepanov from VirtuDesk said, “They are really not into cold calling. It is still best to establish a relationship before calling prospects.”

Kennerly replied, “That's great for inbound, but outreach is important too...if set up right. Let me know if you'd like a discussion on that.”

The co-hosts answered with, “There’s always a mixed bag. Your top performers will find the time to cold call new prospects.”


Prequalifying Cold Calls

The Hosts asked the group participants how they are pre-qualifying in the cold calling process.

JD from Cleveland Deburring said, “Thankfully I don't have to do that anymore but when I did, it was based on the company size and annual revenue so we knew they could potentially afford the service.”

Meyer said, “research, research, research - care enough about your prospects to check them out on social media, to browse their site, to look at their industry.

Gardner agreed, “There’s no replacement for research!

McDermith said, “SO true”

John Buglino from Optessa said, “Pre-qual is done through company size (revenue)

McDermith said, “I research the company website, LinkedIn or other Socials too, to be sure I even have a solution for them.

Koch said, “If our BDRs and SDRs are making cold calls, I am not sure what they are doing to pre-qualify.”

Kite said, “We used smarketing! See: our smarketing Twitter chat from a few years ago. We have an individual qualifying leads through research for each lead, both in and outbound. All the relevant info is passed on to our sales team who makes first contact.

Giglio said, “Not yet, it's definitely something we need to do more often but it can be hard to make time for this due to other work taking up our schedule. Especially since these are some of the more difficult calls to make.”

Kite replied, “We've been in the same boat for years but have recently tried to make an attempt to do it more often. We've found LinkedIn to be a great tool and have a few hours of our week set aside to focus only on making connections there.

Bodor Inc, “You bet I am! But I'm not big on it because WFH made it much more difficult to reach people. I found it better to connect with your ICP in places they already spend so you can focus on deeper interactions than just phoning it in (pun intended).

The co-hosts answered with, “Make a list of questions that are important to your company that quickly identifies the need.


True Decision Makers

The group then discussed their way to identify the ‘true’ decision maker(s).

Rusine said, “Ask them who's the boss. We can also look at the organization's structure and their decision-making process.

Stepanov agreed, “Exactly.

Koch said, “Good question. I'm not sure.

Kite said, “Interested to hear about some other people's methods but we have been using company's LinkedIn profiles to see the current employees and connect with them there based on their titles.

Rusine responded, “Great answer!”

Kite added, “Thank you! Just figured out that you can see all the employees right on the company profile just a few months ago. Only problem we've found is decision makers not being on LinkedIn or the company not having a page, but that's been few and far between.

Meyer said, “Yes! We look at the persona of our ideal buyer and who they need to collect buy-in from. We craft our content and scripts/playbooks to serve our target's needs, but also ways to make them look good to their management (and solve those folks' problems too).”

Buglino said, “Yes, I ask the individual on the call if it is their decision or other(s) when I capture the path to purchase details.

Moorefield said, “I'm assuming our sales team does. I'm debating whether the salesperson I've been emailing for answers is getting annoyed with me or if I should chance another email, haha.”

JD said, “Usually it's the one with the "gatekeeper" but sometimes in our business, it could be the floor or plant manager, not necessarily the owner. They advise the owner, we need this etc; Depends on the size of the business.

Koch replied, “I know we have similar scenarios.”

Baker responded, “I'm very honest that it's a cold call - that way if they want to hang up, we didn't waste each other's time. about 90% of the time I get through to someone.

Prox said, “Through our methods, yes. They usually make a purchase.”

Baker said, “If it's a cold call, I simply ask "I know this is silly, and your job isn't to help me, but could you tell me if this is something you are responsible for or should I talk to someone else." Most times I get to the right person.

Koch replied, “I love that you start with that. I get cold calls periodically and have to sit through their spiel before I tell them I am not the decision maker.

The co-hosts answered with, “Remember champion and users are not always the decision maker.”


Preparing for an Appointment

Next, the group discussed preparing for an appointment. The Hosts asked “In preparing for the appointment, are you addressing the need of what the prospect wants to talk about?”

Stepanov said, “Yes! We typically research first and from the art of questioning, uncover their greatest pain points during the conversation.

McDermith said, “This is tough for me! I tend to tell them how to build a clock wen the ask for the time

Baker replied, “I love this analogy and I completely understand it. I'm with you Kati

Koch said, “I hope so! But I have a suspicion the focus is more on features and benefits ("We-We Syndrome") than on the customer's needs.

Baker said, “I'm still guilty of sometimes focusing on what we can do for them versus identifying what it is they need us to do for them. I'm a work in progress.

Meyer said, “For sure! It comes back to being prepared. I've straight up hung up on salespeople that go right to what they do without knowing/caring what I need. Harsh, but I don't have time for people that don't care enough about me to learn, and your customers don't either

Austin agreed, “100% with you on that Dave! Preparation is absolutely critical to success. We all want to sell our products and services but there's a way to be professional and thoughtful in the approach.”

Koch said, “I hope so! But I have a suspicion the focus is more on features and benefits ("We-We Syndrome") than on the customer's needs.

JD said, “That's a sometimes tough reminder to one's self but if you find out what they need, their pain points, then the sale is so much easier. The sales profession isn't easy. Lol”

Buglino said, “Of course - I am not there to speak about me/my solution. I am there to ask leading questions, shut-up, listen, and respond.

The co-hosts answered with, “Many times, salespeople give a standard presentation and don’t address the customer’s problem until the end…or if ever.”


Professional Appointment Setting Services

The group then discussed if their company uses a professional appointment setting service.

Buglino said, “Yes, we use HubSpot meetings to set the meetings and then me to follow-up, nurture, and continue the conversations

Koch said, “Not that I am aware of. Would something like Calendly fall in this category?”

McDermith replied, “I don't think so, this is like the team of people outsourced to make calls. They tend to get a bad wrap... but that's why @Sales_Leads_Inc is the bomb! they know the industrial world!”

Koch repleid, “Ah, ok, I see! Thank you for clarifying. We don't use a service like that.

Meyer said, “We do have a calendaring tool built in via HubSpot, but we don't have an appointment setter. Yet. Considering getting one now actually”

Baker said, “we don't. The thought was - if we can't even explain it well, some one outside our org can't do better. A company wants to do this, I am skeptical, so instead of paying them a flat fee, I offered a percentage of results. They start next week. we'll see.

Sue Nordman from Obsidian Manufacturing said, “I'm not a fan of them. I think they take personalized service down a notch. I know automation is where it's at but I guess I'm old school with this.

The co-hosts answered with, “SalesLeads is here to help you for your industrial appointment setting needs.”




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