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Reaching Decision Makers

FROM BULLETPROOF SELLING:

While many salespeople place the majority focus on the specific things they should say on the phone or when in person with decision makers, putting priority on the point of sale means a dry pipeline. In order to have decision makers lined up to speak with, we have to focus on getting as many of them into meetings as possible. 

Decision makers are busy and there’s no way to tell which messaging method will get their attention – phone, email, social media, direct mail, etc. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon us as salespeople to use all of them to add value and remain top of mind with our decision makers. That way, we reach them on their timeline and preferred method of communication instead of ours. That means mapping out the type of outreach we’ll conduct, by what methods, and what each of those messages will communicate. From Chapter 6:

Campaign Systems
Prospecting is a campaign, not an event – Anthony Iannarino
ANTHONY’S QUOTE IS worth diving into before we explore the mechanics of creating campaign systems. Too many salespeople will receive or research a lead, reach out once or twice, and when the prospect is unresponsive, the salesperson will move on. This, despite research that states 20+ touches are often required to drive a single executive-level conversation! That’s why it is critical to build those 20+ touchpoints into a system allowing salespeople to provide value and be persistent while not being seen as a pest.
With a closed pipeline that moves prospects from one campaign system to another in theoretically endless loops, we’ll ensure a prospect continues to be prospected until a conversation is generated or they are pulled out of the pipeline.
In establishing campaign systems with our own clients, we find it helpful to ask what they’ve learned to keep top of mind – or what has gone wrong in the past – when:
Generating prospects?
Qualifying prospects as worthy of outreach?
Driving sales meetings?
In conversations with buyers?
During proposal issuance or acceptance to increase conversion?
In generating referrals?
In each of the above areas, what are things they’ve learned to ensure they should avoid doing?
Incorporating those answers as you build your outreach systems will ensure your campaigns accomplish their goal of getting prospects closer to the sale instead of repeating what’s gone wrong in the past.
If your salespeople have been left to their own devices to manage and create their own pipelines and campaigns, you’ll need to meet with them to create a standardized version of their outreach steps for your prospects’ sales cycle. While you are welcome to adopt the names of the campaigns I’ve outlined here, you may also find they’re called something different among your team or in your industry, and it’s best to use your ‘native tongue.’ You may also find the model outlined here serves as a good foundation, but your sales cycle may involve purchase orders, delayed payment schedules, or any of the hundreds of permutations in the world of sales. Take those into account as you map out the overview of the campaign systems you’ll ask salespeople to adopt.
Let’s take the ‘Cold Outreach Campaign’ as an example and walk through how a campaign system looks during creation and rollout.
Establishing a Campaign System
Trigger: When is establishing each vertical of a pipeline.
Bulletproof Impact: Defining specific outreach steps ensures salespeople maintain communication with prospects, allows them to schedule future outreach, and ensures salespeople make more than a two-call effort to engage prospects in conversation.
Overview: Explain that as part of the efforts to increase everyone’s sales (and commissions), you’ll be looking at capturing best practices for how to reach out to new prospects and generate sales conversations. As you’re starting with the first point of outreach on a new prospect, ask yourself/your team: “What have we noticed works well in qualifying prospects and getting them into initial sales conversations?”
You’ll want to pay attention to a few areas that will begin to surface:
1. Methods
You’ll quickly see if your team favors a certain medium when reaching out to new contacts (email, social media, phone, etc.). Pay attention to which method generates the best response from otherwise ‘cold’ or indifferent prospects.
If you’re creating the campaign on your own, ask what methods of outreach generate your best initial conversations. Are you meeting your best prospects at networking events (in-person methods)? Are you having great initial conversations on the phone to set appointments (phone calls)? Is your best luck with conducting virtual sessions (social media/video)?
2. Messaging
Once you’ve captured the best methods to use in contacting new prospects, capture the messaging that your salespeople find works best for generating initial conversations. Across each communication method, map out what you or your team normally says, asks, or shares with their prospects that qualifies decision makers, determines budgets, and reveals buying timeframes. The end-product of this exercise will be the outline of emails, social media messages, direct mail templates, and outreach scripts.
If you’re running a solo operation and mapping outreach methods on your own, it’s a good idea to look back on past clients that didn’t come in through warm referrals (i.e., the ones you developed on your own). Reconstruct the prospect’s journey in becoming a client, tracking the mediums used. For instance, was an email followed by a LinkedIn message followed by a phone call that generated the sales meeting? If you don’t have many sales under your belt or are standing up your first sales team, connect with your industry’s sales veterans and fuel their coffee habit by buying a round in exchange for learning what works best in establishing rapport with new prospects.
3. Movement
What pieces of information do we need from a prospect to move an account out of the current vertical and into the next one? In this case, how do we move from the ‘cold outreach’ vertical into either the decision-maker identified (where we know who a decision maker is) or preselect (we know a decision maker, budget and buying window)? If you or your salespeople determine that finding the decision maker justifies moving a prospect into a new campaign system, now you have a campaign goal for your cold outreach campaign. Every outreach campaign, whatever you call it, should have a goal that, when achieved, moves a prospect out of that campaign and drops them into a more ‘valuable’ stage and campaign system in your pipeline.
Are We on the Same Sheet of Music?
Ensure that you don’t leave your planning session without codifying at least the beta version of a cold outreach campaign system. The reason for this is that in order to create a Bulletproof sales system, salespeople have to be operating from the same sheet of music even if their key, notes, and pitch occasionally differ.
This beta version may look like a letter followed by a note card followed by a phone call followed by an email with a week’s gap in between each step, each with a template that can then be edited and customized by your salespeople for each prospect.
Don’t worry about your campaign systems being perfect out of the gate; more important is that what your team is doing is consistent, because that’s the only way it can be systematically improved.
What might an initial campaign system and cadence look like once it’s built? Each of your campaigns should be defined by their stage in your prospect’s sales cycle, the type of outreach, cadence in between contact points, and associated templates/scripts. Mapped into a linear format, it might appear like this:
Campaign System: Cold Outreach
Step 1 (day of launch): Ensure contact data is accurate and that we have a phone number or email address for likely decision makers in the account. Send LinkedIn invite message using invitation template.
Step 2 (2 days in):  Phone call. If voicemail is left, use voicemail script.
Step 3 (7 days in): Email. Use Cold Outreach email template #1 and customize to account decision maker.
Step 4 (14 days in): Phone call. If voicemail is left, use voicemail script.
Step 5 (20 days in): Send Cold Outreach letter to business mailing address on account. Use Cold Outreach letter template.
With a Bulletproof selling system comprised of a standardized pipeline, campaigns, cadences, templates, and scripts, a sales manager’s role becomes more about managing, improving, and closing performance gaps than nudging salespeople to make more calls.
Systemizing Success with Campaign Systems
At this point, construct beta-versions of the campaign systems below, defining the methods of outreach and the name of any associated template (even if the template doesn’t exist right now). We’ll be creating and systemizing each element in coming chapters.
Cold Outreach
(They don’t know much about us)
Step 1: Launch Date
Method of outreach = (Call, email, social media, direct mail, etc.)
Name of template or script, if one exists =
Step 2: X Days after initial launch
Method of outreach = (Call, email, social media, direct mail, etc.)
Name of template or script, if one exists =
Step 3: X Days after initial launch
Method of outreach = (Call, email, social media, direct mail, etc.)
Name of template or script, if one exists =
(Add additional steps as needed)
Decision-Maker Identified
(We know who the economic buyer in the account is)
Step 1: Launch Date
Method of outreach = (Call, email, social media, direct mail, etc.)
Name of template or script, if one exists =
Step 2: X Days after initial launch
Method of outreach = (Call, email, social media, direct mail, etc.)
Name of template or script, if one exists =
Step 3: X Days after initial launch
Method of outreach = (Call, email, social media, direct mail, etc.)
Name of template or script, if one exists =
(Add additional steps as needed)
Could Not Reach/No Response
(Previous campaign systems haven’t generated a response)
Step 1: Launch Date
Method of outreach = (Call, email, social media, direct mail, etc.)
Name of template or script, if one exists =
Step 2: X Days after initial launch
Method of outreach = (Call, email, social media, direct mail, etc.)
Name of template or script, if one exists =
Step 3: X Days after initial launch
Method of outreach = (Call, email, social media, direct mail, etc.)
Name of template or script, if one exists =
(Add additional steps as needed)
Pre-Select
(We know who the economic buyer is, potential budget, and buying window)
Step 1: Launch Date
Method of outreach = (Call, email, social media, direct mail, etc.)
Name of template or script, if one exists =
Step 2: X Days after initial launch
Method of outreach = (Call, email, social media, direct mail, etc.)
Name of template or script, if one exists =
Step 3: X Days after initial launch
Method of outreach = (Call, email, social media, direct mail, etc.)
Name of template or script, if one exists =
(Add additional steps as needed)
With basic steps of each of your campaigns outlined and those campaign systems aligned with pipeline stages, you’ve done more to systemize your selling than most salespeople do in a career.
While many salespeople only have lagging indicators to judge success such as closed sales, having a campaign map like the one you created above provides the ability to quickly get a snapshot of sales performance in the following ways:
1. Use of Systems
It is easy for a sales manager to look into the CRM of any of their salespeople, especially in an enterprise-wide CRM, and ensure adherence to campaigns, cadences, and templates. If you find your salespeople’s outreach tasks have become overdue, or call notes do not align with the campaign-generated task of ‘Call the Prospect,’ you’ll know something is wrong long before a sale is in jeopardy. While no system is impossible for a salesperson to ‘game,’ the raw amount of work it takes to make a campaign system look like it’s being used will discourage most salespeople from attempting to fabricate steps.
2. Account Progress
Because we encourage standing up multiple verticals/ campaigns that represent the stages of a sales cycle, sales managers can get a snapshot of any of their salespeople’s complete pipelines at-a-glance and take appropriate action to aid their salespeople in moving stalled accounts in the proper direction. For instance, if one of your salespeople has more prospects in the ‘cold outreach’ stage than in the ‘decision maker identified’ stage of their pipeline, you can deliver training that helps that salesperson identify decision makers within their accounts.
3. Getting Orphaned Accounts ‘Back on the Rails’
In even the best salesperson’s pipeline, some accounts orphan through lack of a follow-up step. If these accounts are still qualified and worth pursuing, a sales manager has the ability with most CRMs to see which accounts haven’t had contact in a while and can nudge them back into play for their salesperson by launching that account into a campaign system.
Now that we understand how to construct campaigns with our teams, it’s important to assess what we’ve actually created that may have never existed in the history of our organization: An actual system for generating revenue that exists outside the heads of the top-performing salespeople.
When I coach military veterans returning to the workforce, I warn them that they’ve been trained to have the performance capability of a Porsche. Why is that a warning, and how does it apply to Bulletproof systems? If you take even a mid-sized sedan and push it further than it’s capable of performing, you’re asking for a crash. Ask my first car, a 1993 Ford Taurus that lasted two weeks in my care and wasn’t made to corner mountain roads at 60 mph.
The danger in using any system designed for high performance is that it requires different handling. While we’ll go over exactly how to do this with the input of your sales team, it’s imperative to know that no continuously improving system, especially a Bulletproof one, is set-it-and-forget-it. Most systems our clients were or weren’t using prior to learning about Bulletproof selling were just that. Those systems sometimes got the job done, but because they were rarely updated, it never allowed users to know what they were truly capable of achieving. When the environment a system is designed for changes and the systems doesn’t adapt, results quickly deteriorate. It’s the law of entropy in effect within our pipeline.

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