A majority of companies entering their fourth quarter in sales crisis mode can solve revenue and profit shortfalls by mining sales inquiries generated in the previous 12 months. If there is no database of these prospects, the company gets what it deserves. Fortunately, most companies have a list of inquiries and leads, regardless of their qualification level. And most companies can sort their lead list into a group worth calling.
First Decision: whom to call?
If there are only a few hundred inquirers, call them all; if several thousand, then it’s time to segment the list. It can be segmented by:
1. Product: most likely to be bought, most profitable, shortest sell cycle, etc.
2. Inquirers who are qualified.
3. Inquirers who filled out the product information form (not just, “I wanna see that video”).
4. Inquirers who visited your website more than once.
5. Inquirers from that hot trade show.
6. Inquirers who identified themselves as buyers.
7. Inquirers who have a time frame to buy (immediate need), etc. Give it some thought, and call only the most qualified.
Second Decision: who will call?
Assign this to your salespeople and they will probably give you lip service. After all, they didn’t sell the people the first time around, or didn’t call them at all. Either way, it’s a losing proposition to have your people call them. The answer: have a telemarketing outfit call them.
Third Decision: the offer!
Don’t think you can call people without an offer. Or, at the very least, have something new to say. “Thank you for your previous inquiry; we have something special for you!” No reputable direct marketing firm will take on the job without an offer; a good offer. Don’t be cheap. Remember, you’re in a crisis and you can be generous to the people who pull you out of it.
Does it work?
A friend of mine, Wes, recently had a sales slump. He turned to the list of inquiries received in the last six months (those who filled out a form). He segmented them into those who had visited his website at least three times; he did this by product. He screened out dead leads; those who had bought, and those on a quote list. Then, he had a telemarketing firm call the remainder. Ten percent of those they reached immediately wanted to talk to the rep again. The reps were delighted. The program was launched six weeks ago, so the jury is still out on final results. Wes used Sales Overlays, an advanced direct marketing company, to make the calls. Telemarketing isn’t their specialty, but is part of their mix.
Of course Mark Alarik, their president, set up an email response and soliciting system to make sure all the bases were covered (I have permission to give out Mark’s name and company).
Regardless of whom you use, if you’re in a sales slump, do something NOW while you still can. Don’t sit on your rump and take abuse from the company that expects its marketing people to be creative and get them out of a jam.