How optimization increased sales development rep leads by 304%
I have a confession to make.
There’s something I wish I would have known when I wrote my best-seller, Lead Generation for the Complex Sale.
The conversion sequence for marketing optimization
This is a patented Conversion Heuristic created by MarketingExperiments, a division of MECLABS, that’s typically been used as a systematic framework to analyze a conversion process.
So, I wanted to see if this heuristic could be applied to lead generation through teleprospecting.
After all, we’re trying to convert people, convince them to say “yes” to whatever we’re selling, but we’re doing it in the real world, not the virtual one.
Anyone who has worked in inside sales knows that sales professionals are always informally testing to learn what works and what doesn’t.
The heuristic just applies scientific principles to that testing process.
It’s no wonder it was easy for us to find a client who allowed us to make a guinea pig of their teleprospecting program, and they’re glad they did because we increased sales handoffs by 304%.
Below is an outline of how we made it happen.
Here’s the problem we were solving for:
What messaging creates increased lead conversion and maximizes return on energy?
Simply stated …
How can we get the most sales handoffs with the least effort?
You see, salespeople are always struggling with having enough time to sell. You can only put your energy in so many places.
Test #1. We adjusted the call guide from being product-focused to customer-focused
The heuristic begins with motivation (or 4m) as the most heavily weighted element impacting the likelihood of a conversion.
Therefore, we hypothesized the more our call guide could match a prospect’s motivation for being interested in our services, the more likely they would move forward in the sales cycle.
Instead of launching a call by talking about the product and how it can help – in this case, it was professional services – we began by asking prospects about what motivated their engagement.
As an incentive, we also offered content addressing that motivation.
The result: After pulling a baseline of activities from the previous month using the same manpower and then comparing the outcomes, we concluded that we spoke directly with decision makers 46.3% more often.
But, here’s a little conundrum
While we were speaking with more decision makers, our sales handoffs didn’t have an equally marked increase.
Our hypothesis for the lack of equal increase: we were engaging candidates earlier, but they just weren’t ready to buy.
Test #2. We radically redesigned our approach
We developed a completely new call guide focusing on two objectives:
- Delight the prospect by focusing completely on their needs. This was the priority because by doing so, they’ll eventually turn into a sales-ready lead.
- Uncover a sales-ready lead.
We achieved these by also focusing on three areas that subconsciously motivated prospects to say, “Yes, I want to move forward.” Essentially, we were working toward building the ultimate yes with our prospects.
The three areas we focused on were:
Give prospects a good reason to talk to us immediately.
In their mind, the prospect asks, “Who are you and why should I talk to you?” and we answered by:
- Reviewing our client’s customer relationship management system to see how prospects most recently engaged.
- Building our conversation around that knowledge.
In their mind, the prospect is asking, “Are you relevant to me and my company?”
We made it clear how the client’s brand is relevant by focusing on the prospects’ needs based on:
- How they most recently engaged with the organization.
- Only focusing on prospects who were the best fit for the client and disregarding the rest.
In their mind, the prospect asks, “Why should I talk you to you now?”
We increased their motivation to engage by offering an even more compelling incentive that matched or exceeded their motivation – in this case, it was a report worth hundreds of dollars.
Urgency, relevancy, and importance were reinforced by both direct contact and follow-up emails.
The result: We increased decision-maker contacts and helped build a pipeline for future sales. But while sales handoffs increased, we wanted to see even more of a lift.
Test #3. We changed the call guides and added compelling follow-up emails to intensify urgency
We keenly focused on discovering our prospects’ most pressing challenges and responded to them.
An important difference between using the heuristic for landing page optimization and teleprospecting is with telesprospecting, you can immediately adjust the message in real time to match prospect motivations.
This test took full advantage of that opportunity.
When prospects talked about specific issues – issues that may not have been the focus of our initial conversation – we shifted our conversation to match their motivation.
We also added an email to follow-up voicemails.
The email heightened urgency and relevancy by giving prospects multiple incentives.
This was usually in the form of reports worth hundreds of dollars – but if they wanted to get the incentive, they had to call us back and let us know their issues so we could match the report to their needs.
This gave us an opportunity to learn more about their organization and identify how to increase their motivation.
The result: We increased sales handoffs by 138% and made the compounded sales handoff increase across all three tests by 304%.
Was the heuristic applicable to sales development?
For me, these tests confirm my curiosity that the Conversion Heuristic would work both online and offline to improve lead generation.
It sets the foundation for creating a repeatable, scalable sales development process to will help you achieve the highest ROI.
Rest assured, this is just the beginning of our discussion about the value of the Conversion Heuristic, we’ll be writing more blog posts on this subject to help you apply it to your organization.
In the meantime, feel free to join the conversation about lead generation in the comments, or if you want to learn more, check out some of the resources also below.