Making sales outreach calls can be tough, for a bevy of reasons- getting past gatekeepers, connecting with the right people, getting hung up on, to name a few- especially early in the sales process. One of the hardest parts is knowing how to end the first call successfully. Without greater context, the only clear objective is setting a discovery meeting or some other type of meeting, but that's not always appropriate for the situation. Identifying potential waypoints (the stopping points along the way of your sales journey) between connecting and your ultimate objectives can help create clarity and increase the success from your efforts. We call them “exit ramps.”
Many sales, especially complex sales, are made up of varying small commitments in between the first call and the close of business. The problem is, while many SDRs can see a clear “Point A” in a first call, and “Point B” in a closed sale, they are unable to clearly recognize all of the stops in between. Too often, this means pushing the prospect too far before they’re ready and losing the sale. So, what do you do? How do you get off the initial call in a way that keeps the conversation moving forward toward the next step? What’s your exit strategy?
In a complex sale, the initial call is often too soon to set a meeting. However, many salespeople rush to do so, because they don’t have a clear view of the appropriate waypoint to end that conversation. They don’t know where to exit the call. In order to gain that clarity, it’s important to focus on the goal of the initial call, instead of just the final sale. Think of it like driving on a highway. Ultimately, you need to make it to your destination, the sale. But in between, you need to know both how often you’ll need to stop and where, to refuel as you make your way on the journey. To identify these “exits,” you have to figure out what stopping point is considered an advance of the conversation when leaving each call throughout the process.
It’s important to note that it’s not unheard of to set a meeting on the first call with a prospect. It absolutely happens, and when it does, great! However, it’s imperative not to push too far to get there on the first call. If you’re going to push a prospect past the first exit ramp on a first call, you should be absolutely sure that you have enough momentum to get all the way to setting a meeting. If you pass your first exit, you better have enough gas to make it to the next one. You’ll know that you’ve pushed a prospect too far on a first call immediately. If you don’t have enough momentum, the prospect shuts down and the sale comes to a screeching halt. I often find it’s best to stick to the roadmap and advance things in a more measured way.
When you first connect with a prospect, you want to learn enough about their business to find a reason to send content that will be meaningful to them. This way, rather than just forcefully selling, you lay a foundation of being a useful resource. That’s your first waypoint--a meaningful conversation with a reason to follow up at a specific time. At Imagine, we define a meaningful conversation as one where both parties learn something and where a next action is set and scheduled. When it comes to what I want to learn, I’m looking for two pieces of useful information that will help me to hone my sales pitch with this prospect. Where are they frustrated? What does their process look like? If I can walk away with this information, I’m able to decide what to focus our next call on.
In order for a next action to be considered an advance, you can’t just send a piece of content to review. You have to get the prospect to agree to a specific time to follow up. This isn’t a meeting or a demo. This is simply a way to gauge and propel the prospect’s interest in the conversation. It’s an easy exit from a first conversation, with a very minimal commitment required by the prospect. As you wrap up the conversation, offer to send them a piece of content, and suggest a specific time to follow up and get their feedback.
If you find that a prospect is open and willing to talk, and that the momentum of the conversation is growing, you can expand into beginning a profile. Start to get a feel for who the players are, what their high probability indicators are, and what issues are relevant to them. Beginning the profile allows you to push them toward becoming a Sales Qualified Lead, even though this is still under the umbrella of a meaningful conversation. It’s a means of beginning to hone in on what to focus future calls on, and solidifying your ultimate sale strategy. It will help you to get a feel for what you’ll need to do moving forward. This is another waypoint, an exit past a simple conversation for a connect that doesn’t have quite enough gas to make it all the way to setting a meeting.
The reality is, complex sales are just that--complex. The last thing you want to do is make the process even harder on yourself. The life of an SDR revolves so much around getting the right person on the phone, but countless sales are lost because the sales person doesn’t know how far to go to drive the call forward toward a sale. Identifying specific waypoints throughout your sales process is a simple way to maintain momentum in a sale and propel it forward without forcing your hand and losing the sale. By sticking to the roadmap, you can keep the sale on track, both decreasing the probability of getting lost, and, more importantly, increasing the likelihood of making it to your destination.