The last mile of any lead generation program is that stage where the rep needs to connect with prospects and close the deal.

Over the years, research organizations like The Aberdeen Group, SiriusDecisions, and CSO Insights have all reported that a high percentage of leads never receive a follow up from sales--why is that?

With all the sales enablement systems, processes, automation tools, and training--reps still have a hard time connecting with prospects. I had a great discussion with sales transformation expert Aaron Ross this week, and he made an excellent point that reps do things for reasons they think are valid, or for reasons they may not even realize are costing them results.

Why would reps do things that are counter productive? Part of it stems from their belief system about prospects. The top 7 of those beliefs are:

  1. If the prospect was really interested, they would have called me back
  2. I don't send email as a follow up
  3. If they were interested they would schedule a meeting
  4. Prospects don't return voicemails
  5. Prospects don't like getting sales calls
  6. Cold calling is a waste of time
  7. You can't reach executives over the phone

If these beliefs were true, we would all be out of business--I would certainly be since my business is cold calling executives! Let's look at these one at a time:

#1--The truth is, prospects can be super interested and are just too busy to call back. Executives depend on the tenaciousness of reps to keep connecting with them to keep the dialog going. The Bridge Group's study on this showed reps often need to call in excess of 7 times to reach executives! Executives get hundreds of emails and dozens of calls a day--that is a lot of noise. Reps that realize this and change their belief to something along the lines of "I need to call them several times to reach them--they are super busy and I understand that" see a much higher % of connects, and deals.

#2--The truth is that email isn't a follow-up in of itself. But what it does do is act as a vehicle to keep your name and your company name in front of them until you reach them. Use the power of that mental imprint to build momentum in your connection effort. A belief like "Sending them a note helps them to remember me when I call--just because they didn't respond doesn't mean they didn't see it" will see good results.

#3--Some prospects perceive meetings as sales pressure. The depth of discussion executives are willing to disclose on informal calls is huge. A belief that "prospects don't need a meeting to have an in-depth discussion" frees you up to have a productive, unplanned discussion.

#4--The truth is prospects do listen to voicemails. They can't call you back if they didn't know you called, and even if they get too busy to call you back your voicemail will often prompt them to look at your site, note your info, talk about it to their peers, and get visibility for you that you didn't know you had. Believing "voicemail makes a difference" helps build momentum in you connection effort.

#5, 6--A more accurate way to say this is prospects don't like getting bad cold calls. The thing reps forget it part of being an executive is making and taking calls. They call people constantly, and they fully expect to be called by people they don't know. What is irritating is to get a call from a rep that is pushy, gimmicky, assumptive, or some other unproductive trait is going to get cut short. Believe "executives are open to get calls that are peer-to-peer, open discussions that get to the point and have substance" will help reps have a whole different dynamic in their discussions.

#7--Applying #1-6 thought transformations can overturn this belief that executives can't be reached, or persistent lead follow-up is a waste of time. Prospects do in fact take calls, we have literally hundreds of thousands of examples that they do. It takes more calls, more effort, more thought about what you will say. But when you do that--you'll see that the negative beliefs did nothing but hold you back.

Do you need help to transform your reps beliefs about prospects?