A wake up call to business owners who are chasing too much new business.
Who among us hasn’t noticed the current deluge of ads and LinkedIn messages promising to “fill your calendar” with sales calls or show you how to do it yourself? Before you get sucked into thinking this is a good thing, ask yourself two important questions:
- How many calls do you really need, and
- How many calls can you actually do
For most people, especially those who aren’t full time sales/business development types, the answer is lower than you think.
Here’s a realistic approach to setting sales conversations goals.
How many initial calls do you need to have?
Let’s say your revenue goal is based on 20 new clients and you want to add those clients in the pipeline over the next 12 months. Here’s how to back off from there to determine how many initial conversations you need to have.
For the sake of this article, I’m going to say your effort looks something like this:
>> Prospects agree to a conversation
>> Some portion of those conversations become an opportunity*
>> Some portion of those opportunities actually buy.
* An “opportunity” meets your definition of an ideal client, is interested in your product/service, knows what it costs and is willing and able to buy.
Now let’s fill in some numbers. You can access our google spreadsheet to help you with the math.
|New clients desired||20|
|Percentage of qualified calls that become clients||40%|
|Number of opportunities needed||50|
|Percentage of initial conversations that become opportunities||35%|
|Number of initial conversations needed||143|
|Conversations per month||12|
Note: the percentages I’ve used in this example may be higher or lower than what you experience. You’ll need to adjust accordingly.
In the example above, if the quality of the calls and your ability to close opportunities meet the estimated percentages, you need only 12 initial sales calls per month. Hardly a “calendar full”.
Even if you want to acquire a larger number of clients, there are several ways to achieve your new business goals without working an extra however many hours a week, and none of them involve “filling your calendar” with sales calls.
Increase call quality – not call quantity
Our clients quickly learn the most challenging part of a LinkedIn prospecting program (or any prospecting program) is not getting people to agree to a phone call. It’s getting the right people.
Common mistakes – how you end up talking to the wrong people
- Not defining your target audience tightly enough
- Spray and pray
- not cleaning up the search results
- not actually looking at profiles
Develop a better definition of your target audience
To state the obvious, you’re better off talking to people who would make great clients. That’s people who have a need for your product or service, value your advice and have a high lifetime value, a high likelihood of buying and a high likelihood that you can do your best work for them.
This is often more than simply having the right title at a company of the right size in a certain industry and location. LinkedIn/Sales Navigator offers a fairly robust set of filters that can – and should – be used to weed out non-ideal companies or buyers. But that’s not enough.
Clean up your search results
Even with its helpful set of filters, the LinkedIn/Sales Navigator search engine is not perfect. Sometimes you just can’t filter for all the criteria you know are important, no matter how many keywords you include.
Sometimes – actually, often – searches include people who simply shouldn’t be on the list. Wrong title, wrong industry, wrong location, etc. Get these names off your outreach list so you don’t end up in a bunch of conversations going nowhere.
Weed out the non-ideal people before you even contact them, and your call-to-opportunity ratio is likely to go up, meaning you need to have fewer calls to result in the same amount of opportunities.
How to talk to more of the right people
1. Look at profiles
One of the things that makes LinkedIn so powerful is the amount of information you can find out about a person. Read the profile to double-check the person’s desirability as a client before you reach out to them. Look at the profile while you craft the message so you can include something that lets them know you actually know who they are.
2. Create a good reason for someone to talk with you
Spoiler alert. Rarely does anyone want to talk to you about you – or your products or services – in the first call. And even fewer have time to talk with you out of the goodness of their hearts. You’ve heard of everyone’s favorite radio station – WIFM (What’s In It For Me), right? It’s your responsibility to give them something they’re willing to spend their valuable time on. (For more info on how to do that, read 3 Conversations You Should Be Having.)
There are two ways to approach prospect outreach. 1. Use a firehose to hit as many quasi-qualified people as possible then “fill your calendar” talking with the wrong prospects. 2) Do your homework; focus solely on your ideal prospects and spend the extra time with your friends and family.
Which sounds better to you?