Launching an “x:50” Telesales Calling Strategy

I have just spent some time reviewing the detailed calling logs of my inside sales team as I work to improve their calls-to-connect ratio. The results are startling.

But first some history.

When I took over the team over a year ago I first spent most of my time trying to help them become more effective when they do make a connect. This way, when we started to tackle the connect ratio, we wouldn’t be wasting connects with poor selling strategy. We have worked on identifying stalls vs objections, using good bridging techniques to move beyond stalls to address real objections, handling the objections themselves, gathering information etc.  It’s a work in progress, but we are starting to see good results.

Much has been written about using the “power calling times” centered on the hour.  This one on the Smashmouth B2B Blog is particularly interesting. I thought that sounded pretty reasonable. So I asked my team to implement it a few months back, but beyond checking in periodically, I hadn’t really tested their use, until now.

We don’t have a large enough team to have deployed sophisticated call tracking tools. Instead, I built a simple spreadsheet with the day broken up into 20 minute segments as noted above. I asked each person to fill out their actual calling data on calls, connects and meetings secured per slot for each day, for a week. I promised them that this would not be used against them as a gauge of performance, rather just to see if there were any interesting trends that could help us pinpoint where success happens.

Not surprisingly, the data revealed a classic random walk. One person’s data is represented here, though the actual numbers are hidden as I consider that information somewhat proprietary.

Telesales results for the "x:50" power calling segments

One rep's calling "strategy" represented by a truly random walk

But as I peeled back the onion and looked at in what slots the connects were happening, the trend was clear. In what I am calling the “x:50 slots” (8:50, 9:50, 10:50 etc) a full 52% of the connects occurred. Despite the randomness of the calling, and considering that there were no obvious over-corrections in the call volumes in those slots, it’s a pretty good indicator of success.

Further when I looked at the other connects in a new light, 62% of all connects occurred after 2:30pm. If you add the slots before 10:30 together with the after 2:30 slots, a stunning 81% of connects occurred. And you can surely guess what I directed them to start doing immediately!

Others have focused on these issues, but it was interesting to see it validated even without focus.  I will definitely let the data trend out a bit to be sure we normalize for randomness, I realize that one week’s worth of data  is awfully hard to justify as proof of anything. But if we continue to see improvements in the connect rates, we will run a controlled test to confirm the “x:50” strategy in our market and institutionalize it as part of our calling rigor.

And if YOUR phone rings at 10:55am tomorrow, it just might be my team on the phone!

An Update on 2010 Marketing Themes: Segmentation Rules

My post on my 2010 marketing themes and strategies from early January continues to be one of the more popular articles in the past few weeks, which has me scratching my head a bit. After all, its the end of February, shouldn’t you have already figured out your theme for 2010?

At the same time, we should always test our assumptions and make changes as market dynamics shift. In fact in the last 6 weeks I have decided we will make an even greater commitment to segmentation. I realigned our telesales teams to better support this and make sure the front-end of the funnel pushes the right kinds of opportunities out the other end to improve our close ratios.

The other thing it does is helps our brand awareness activities. I have said to all who will listen that I can’t build awareness across the whole country (Superbowl ad anyone?!). It takes too much time, too much money, and wont be particularly relevant to the vast majority of the people we touch.  But give me 500 or so top targets and we can build awareness right THERE.  It’s really much easier.  It’s much more focused and in the end, marketing, telesales, and direct sales wind up in perfect alignment.

As Bob Riazzi, the incoming President of Reachforce put it in his 2010 kick off blog post: “But sheer numbers alone aren’t the answer.  Filling your marketing database gaps with the right, most relevant contacts will be critical for success.”

I couldn’t agree more.