TERRA Staffing Group has been serving the Seattle area for three decades. It built a strong reputation for excellent service and was extremely well networked in that community. However, when TERRA opened a new division in Portland, Ore., in 2012, it had to start fresh – the company had no reputation to fall back on.
Jenifer Lambert, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, TERRA, decided to use this opportunity to launch her sales efforts into the 21st century. The company’s existing sales process was proving to be a dinosaur predicated heavily on “intentions, moods and temperament.” She couldn’t afford that in Portland, considering this was TERRA’s first expansion outside of Washington state.
“We had to produce a quick return on investment, and I needed a profitable, predictable sales engine,”
Fortunately, Lambert already had an ace team of closers – recruiting and staffing professionals who worked directly with clients to deliver results.
“They outperformed direct sales because they simply had more credibility,” Lambert confessed. “They intuitively knew the questions to ask to provide solutions our prospects needed.”
What she didn’t have were the prospects for her team to talk to, and they had neither the time nor know-how to obtain them. Inspired by a MarketingSherpa article, she decided to outsource a lead generation company to generate leads they could close.
In 90 days through teleprospecting, TERRA Staffing had 242 qualified leads, 27 appointments, and closed three deals. This more than paid for its investment. Most importantly, the staffing company established a predictable sales engine through the following:
Measurement. The first priority was to establish a benchmark to measure the team’s progress. After analyzing the Portland marketplace, the team determined:
- The size of their target market
- How much of that market might be urgent buyers
- The response rate and deal size necessary for ROI
The team set out the exact metrics and determined the exact triggers to decide if the campaign would make sense. Thanks to this benchmarking, at any point in the program, they could determine whether they were on track or off.
Clarifying messaging. Teleprospectors followed a script that included how to respond to objections. They worked directly with TERRA’s staffing professionals to develop appropriate responses.
“This process has, frankly, helped us refine our own messaging,” Lambert said. “It has forced us to be much clearer.”
Determining cadence. After testing how many calls produced the best results, the outcome proved fewer calls to a broader audience was optimal. Most of the appointments came early in the prospecting process.
Optimization. The team used a software system that made the progress of the lead generation effort completely transparent. TERRA could look at data, note which messages were resonating most, and see precisely which leads were progressing and which weren’t.
“In the beginning, we noted we had an unusually high number of leads that were just not moving forward,” Lambert recalled. “By looking at the data … we discovered a commonality: The companies were all too small.”
TERRA adjusted its qualified leads to include only companies with a larger employee and revenue base, and noticed significantly more calls converting into appointments. It also helped the team work more efficiently – they stopped wasting time trying to win over prospects who weren’t in a position to buy.
“While sales used to be based on personality and persuasive abilities, today it’s much more of a science,” Lambert said. “At the end of the day, it’s about initiating a sufficient number of contacts with people who can buy from you. Having this partnership has made that very clear to me and, thanks to that, I’m going into 2013 with a much more predictable sales engine.”
LeadJen – the outsourced lead generation company TERRA used
Jesubi – software system used by the team