High Velocity Prospecting

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I’m a huge fan of high velocity outbound calls — at least when done well.  Recently, I needed to buy a new car, my current car was coming off lease, I thought I’d take advantage of some of the end of quarter promotions.

I did my research, narrowed down to a couple of different models, configured those models at the manufacturer’s sites (Build Your Car) to get an idea of pricing.  I researched the various sites to find the promotions, deals, discounts I might get for the vehicles I was considering.  Finally, I made some internet queries to a few dealerships suggested as having the best pricing on the web.  Many of you have done this before, you fill out a form with contact information and what you are looking for, and submit it.  In the end, I was looking at 3 dealers each for the two models I was considering.

You know what happened next.  Within two minutes, I had six phone calls and 9 email messages in response to my queries.  I actually only answered the first one, the others went into voicemail since I was already on the phone.  To be truthful, each sales person did an outstanding job.  They qualified me for my purchase urgency, understood what I wanted both in the vehicles and the deal structure.  Most got back to me with very responsive proposals.  After a few hours, I made a decision, bought a car, did much of the paperwork online.  Later in the day, I picked up my new car.  All in all, a very pleasant shopping experience.

Each of the sales people were leveraging tools for high velocity responses.  They knew, if they got back to me quickly, they would be likely to catch my attention and interest.  The cars were still on my mind, 2 minutes after submitting my requests, so I was very interested in the conversations.  What I appreciated was the speed, efficiency, and most importantly, the relevance of the conversations.  They knew I had done my research (the proverbial 57-70%), I was knowledgeable, so each of the conversations was focused and highly relevant.

But high velocity can backfire tremendously.

During this same period of time, I happened to notice a few white papers and market research reports on sales productivity issues.  I downloaded the white papers, then slowly started counting.

You guessed it, these B2B sellers called me within a couple of minutes of submitting my requests, just like the car dealers.  In one case, I hadn’t even downloaded the white paper, in the other two cases, I hadn’t even had the ability to read the research reports/white papers.  But that didn’t make any difference to the sales people calling me.  All they wanted to talk about was my interest in their products, so the fact that I hadn’t seen the white papers/research didn’t deter them.

Each was confused when I responded, “I’m not interested in your products, I’m interested in understanding the research and the white papers.”

One of the sales people tried to challenge me, “Those white papers are about our products, let me save you some time…..”  I was confused, “I thought I downloaded a market research report?  I really don’t care about your products.”  He persisted, “Companies like  yours get huge value out of these products.  Google, Microsoft, GE are all producing great results…..”

You know I had to interrupt, “But we aren’t like those companies, what value to companies like ours get?”  He stumbled a little, “What do you do…….”  You can guess where this went.

I let some of the other sales people run with their pitches, as well.  Not any different.  They went into their pitches, telling me about all the wonderful things their products did.   None of the conversations referred to the materials I had downloaded.  No one asked me about my interest in the materials.  None, leveraged the “context” of my interest.  All of them immediately assumed I was interested in buying their products — even after I told them I was only interested in the white papers.

All of these calls were a total waste of my time, a waste of the sales people’s time.  While they were leveraging High Velocity principles, they had no idea who I was, what was driving my interest, or what might be the most relevant, engaging, or impactful conversations.

Each could have probed a little, “What was your interest in the white paper/research?”  “Why are you interested in those topics?”  Even better, they once they determined my interest, they could have highlighted certain parts of the materials that were most relevant, or they could have offered observations about additional points that were relevant to my interest.  They might have probed about my company a little, to determine whether we were in their sweet spot as customer–in each of these cases, I knew we were far from being customers of these companies, but we might have been influential recommenders.  Or they might have delayed their calls by 30-45 seconds to bring up my LinkedIn Profile to learn a little about me, but none did.

Imagine how much more effective sales people could be if they took the time to be relevant.  It only takes a minute–you know what I’m interested in because of what I downloaded.  Talk to me about that.  Take a moment to look me up–tie that into the conversation.

Years ago, the National Traffic Safety Council had an advertising campaign, “Speed Kills.”  I wonder if they were thinking about prospecting as well?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Dave Brock
Dave has spent his career developing high performance organizations. He worked in sales, marketing, and executive management capacities with IBM, Tektronix and Keithley Instruments. His consulting clients include companies in the semiconductor, aerospace, electronics, consumer products, computer, telecommunications, retailing, internet, software, professional and financial services industries.

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