In the digital age, most sales conversations occur remotely. Sales professionals must make an impression without the benefit of an in-person meeting, often making it more difficult to rise above the noise.
How can you ensure the first impression – whether via phone, social media, or email – is a positive one? In both inbound and outbound prospecting, it is the first conversation that often sets an opportunity on the road to success (or failure).
Many a persistent sales rep has suffered due to not making the most of these crucial moments of initial sales engagement. In this post, we will focus on how something as simple as a call transfer strategy can improve the buying experience and ultimately close more deals.
Imagine, you have been prospecting an opportunity for a few weeks. You’ve researched the company, reviewed your LinkedIn connections, and utilized every tool in your toolbelt to prepare. You have touched base via email, left a few voicemails, and even managed to get a gatekeeper on the phone. There is every reason to believe you are getting traction and that your desired contact will pick up on your next call. It’s time for the moment of truth! You dial.
Ring… ring… ri – hello?
They prospect answered! You dive right in, introducing yourself and quickly getting to the purpose of your call. Your prospect seems open to listening. The gatekeeper even mentioned you earlier in the week, and the prospect had time to look into your solution. They are very interested and have requested a demo. The situation is ideal. What do you do next?
You schedule a demo call with an Account Executive for the next day.
What do you think the outcome of that sales interaction was? It started out promising. Overall this story is an ideal situation for many sales development reps. Unfortunately, the prospect lost interest shortly thereafter.
Prior to the call, the prospect had reviewed your solution using a tech review site and had also looked into your competition. They had cleared some time on their calendar and had hoped to have more information at the end of the call rather than having to schedule a second time to connect.
Your competitor’s outbound rep contacted them shortly after your conversation. He was able to transfer the call to an account executive who could demo the solution immediately. You are no longer in the lead, and your opportunity has lost momentum.
A Common Problem
Companies that don’t utilize call transfer often suffer from a loss of momentum early in the sales cycle, inadvertently hurting their pipeline. They will pique prospect’s interest and then say, “I’ll have your account executive call you back tomorrow.” Or, worse yet, “You’ll receive a call from an account executive in two to three business days.”
Sales reps must be prepared to field and react to such requests in real time or risk losing momentum due to long holds or too much time between scheduled calls.
The average person spends 1.2 years on hold, and most prospects hanging up after an average of one minute and 55 seconds of hold time (The Small Business Chronicle). NATA reports that playing music during a hold can extend the average amount of time a caller is willing to wait by 60 seconds. That is 3 minutes the average person is willing to wait for an answer. That is not a lot of time.
All of this drives a need to rework the selling experience to support a more collaborative process in real-time.
What Can You Do?
Develop a workflow that fully engages a prospect that shows interest. Invest in systems and processes that empower reps to address requests as quickly as possible, ideally without a long hold or scheduling a future call.
In a world of instant gratification, sales organizations need to find a solution that supports immediate collaboration across sales functions through real-time call transfer.
Let’s review the most common sales call transfer types, along with their pros and cons, to better understand the options available.
- Blind Transfer or Cold Transfer. A blind transfer is when you transfer a prospect to another team member without speaking to the new team member first.
- Pro – Many phone systems will support this option out of the box.
- Con – Inability to ensure the transfer is picked up or that the prospect’s needs are properly addressed.
- Warm Transfer or Consultative Call. A warm transfer is when you put a prospect on hold while you speak with the new agent before the call is passed along. You can provide background information before transferring the call the destination agent. Then, all three parties can connect, or you could transfer directly to the new agent.
- Pro – Allows reps to set the stage before transferring the call.
- Con – Still requires a hold which can cause frustration for the prospect.
- Live Transfer or Call Collaboration. A live transfer allows a sales rep to invite an additional stakeholder to a call without putting the prospect on hold.
- Pro – Reduces the need to hold time, while still offering it as an option.
- Con – Not available with most providers.
And the winner is…
Each transfer option has its strengths and weaknesses but not all are created equal. Research conducted by Stan Rapp and Tom Collins of Maximarketing found 16-20% of buyers make a purchasing decision based on information they hear while waiting on a resolution to a request. This supports the preferred transfer type being one that does not stop the flow of information during a call. The more seamless the experience, the better.
Your best option is… Live Transfer. This transfer type doesn’t require a hold and allows the sales representative to continue the conversation while looping in additional team members.
Supporting call transfer is only one way to foster collaboration in your organization for an improved buying experience. When in doubt, ensure team members are able to share information and expertise freely, encourage teamwork through healthy competition, and progress deals faster.
Why Embrace Collaboration?
Salesforce Research indicates that 79% of buyers believe its very important that a salesperson act trusted advisor, addressing concerns and collaborating for mutual success. By embracing collaboration throughout the sales process, companies enable their reps to better serve prospects through collective knowledge and teamwork.
Today’s buyer is more informed, and sellers must be prepared for them. Prospects will discount the value of their interactions reps if a sales rep is not prepared to advance the conversation fast enough.
Collaboration encourages sellers to work as a team for increased efficiency rather than against one other. With a collaborative sales process, reps are encouraged to share information and foster expertise. Sales organizations have an opportunity to provide stellar buying experiences by empowering reps to quickly ramp a conversation to the next level, exceeding prospects’ expectations.
Today’s buyer is more informed than ever before and building a process that encourages internal collaboration is one way to help your sellers rise above the noise.
Learn more about the best practices of top performing sales reps in the research we sponsored for TOPO.
We are grateful to have you here with us on this journey, and we hope you feel the #saleslove support with this post. If you have any questions about what features SalesLoft offers that support collaboration, please check out the Knowledge Base, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.