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Speed to lead: how to improve sales calling practices

Meeting buyers where they are is essential in today's ever-evolving buyer landscape. Comparison sites and online marketplaces provide buyers with choice, convenience, price, and speed all in one place.

And with 75% of B2B buyers preferring a rep-free sales experience, cutting through the noise is critical. Buyers transact with online marketplaces and comparison sites in two ways: to make a purchase immediately or to get more information before making a purchase. 

Living in a world with a deluge of digital tools at our disposal to connect (emails, texting, and direct messages on social media), the phone call is one of the most effective ways to foster deeper conversations and build and maintain a robust pipeline. 

However, with thousands of resources available to buyers now online that enable them to conduct their own research and compare prices and value, the phone call is crucial to reaching your hot leads before one of your competitors does. 

For more complex, long-term, personalized decisions, such as life insurance, potential customers use these sites to gather information and then request to speak with someone when they are ready to purchase, also known as hot leads.

But why do so many hot leads get cold so quickly? Here are three common mistakes sales teams make when following up with hot leads — and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: You don’t know why your calls go unanswered — so you increase your number of outbound calls. 

Even when following up with an inbound lead within minutes, your potential customers may not answer for a variety of reasons: life is busy, they see an unknown number calling them, or they requested a call from your company only to find that the number is coming up as a different name on caller ID. 

One of the quickest ways to mediate this issue is to leave a brisk but effective voicemail, typically no longer than a minute. Identify yourself and the reason for calling, and express genuine interest in speaking with them as soon as they’re available. Voicemails are a powerful tool and opportunity to be human, lay the groundwork for further conversation, and increase call-back rates. 

However, avoiding excessive and repetitive calls to your contacts is critical to building a positive perception of your business and avoiding having your calls blocked or reported by call recipients. Consider maintaining a structured call schedule that respects your recipient’s time and availability. Integrating this strategy with your CRM or dialer software can also help track interaction history and avoid unnecessary call repetition. 

To learn more about how to build your reputation by employing good calling practices, download our 10 tips for a positive call reputation. 

Mistake #2: You’re trying too hard to sell too fast. 

While your goal is to convert hot leads to customers, when you sell a complex product or service, it often means that the first conversation will not be the last. The first conversation should be to understand your customer's unique needs to build positive rapport and confidence that you are a trusted advisor with their best interest at heart. 

Plus, with more and more sales cycles lengthening and including more decision-makers than ever, it’s critical to ensure you build trust with your contact and their entire team. Investing in onboarding, training, and coaching techniques focused on active listening and away from hard selling techniques can benefit your reps. 

Active listening can help deepen understanding, convey interest and engagement, and ultimately help comprehension. Consider the techniques below to improve active listening:

  1. Pay attention through nonverbal cues: Facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and more can help build context for the motivation behind the words expressed. Attention can also come in the form of allowing the other person time to respond and leave space for thoughtful conversation respectfully. This can be difficult over the phone as people want to fill any dead air immediately. However, taking an intentional pause can help your call recipient better formulate their questions or responses and allow for a more meaningful conversation. 

  2. Eliminate distractions: Minimizing external noise or interruptions can help re-focus the conversation to ensure the topics discussed are a top priority.

  3. Repetition and reflection: When speaking over the phone, communication opportunities can get lost in translation. Repetition and paraphrasing essential points or questions throughout the conversation can help bridge those gaps.

  4. Comprehension: Listening to understand, not just to be heard or respond, requires the caller to clarify as much as possible when the recipient makes a point or raises an issue that may be unclear. Asking open-ended questions can help conversations feel more collaborative and organic.

Mistake #3: You aren’t monitoring the right call metrics.

Every sales team tracks different metrics, but when selling a complex product or solution, it’s crucial to go beyond the answer rate and first call close to understand which KPIs move the needle. 

Choosing quality over quantity is an effective way to focus on the KPIs that matter the most. Call duration is an early indicator of a quality call, increasing the likelihood of conversion, even if it’s the next call. 

For example, Hiya Connect's branded caller ID enables a subtle but powerful shift in consumer behavior. Displaying verified information from your business and your call intent can empower consumers to make more informed decisions. By measuring and tracking call duration before and after branded caller ID, you can better understand how to improve the quality of your answered calls, keep your hot leads hot, and keep reps productive. 

The focus of conversations with customers can meaningfully shift from verifying identity and legitimacy to providing value, resolving concerns, or closing sales. 

How Hiya helps

Speed to lead is crucial to turning hot leads into customers. The first step to ensuring you can reach customers who want you to call is understanding what your outbound calls look like. Find out how your business shows up when making outbound calls with a free call inspection.