Last week’s article, Collaborative Alignment between the Teleprospecting Team and Sales Organization (Part 1), highlighted several best practices to help drive lead-to-pipeline conversion. Each recommendation in the article increases sales & teleprospecting collaboration and will have a positive impact on results. However, in our experience, the most effective model is one which also fosters direct relationships between the individual teleprospectors and the sales representatives.
Why does a direct relationship between a teleprospector and a sales rep matter?
- Trust & Credibility – Sales reps will trust information that comes from someone they personally know (and has been deemed a credible source) versus a lead that appears in their CRM lead tab.
- Quality – By receiving direct feedback/communication from the sales reps, the teleprospectors will quickly learn what types of leads and value-add information is most advantageous.
- Sense of Ownership – When a relationship is established, both parties will have a more vested interest in making it successful. This translates to higher quality leads and more diligent sales follow-up.
Creating a direct relationship between teleprospectors and sales reps does not mean that the two teams need to be physically located together. Virtual relationships are easily established and very effective. A few best practices include:
Align teleprospectors to specific sales territories – Depending on the size of the territories (which may be defined geographically, by segment and/or by industry), one teleprospector should be able to effectively support between 2 and 6 sales representatives. Be mindful not to make the ratio too large, as it becomes more challenging to build effective relationships when 1 teleprospector is supporting dozens of sales representatives.
Define communication expectations – teleprospectors and sales representatives should communicate 1:1 via phone, email and instant messenger as leads are uncovered and appointments are set. Communication should include:
- The teleprospector should provide a written overview of the need, situation and next steps within the CRM, and call their sales representative to share additional details concerning the prospect’s tone, urgency, etc.
- In the case of an urgent customer need, the use of Instant Messenger can facilitate immediate communication between the teleprospector and appropriate sales representative – and may result in an immediate “hot transfer” directly to sales.
- When a sales representative has a question or needs additional clarification concerning a lead or upcoming appointment, he/she can quickly reach their teleprospector via phone, email or IM for additional information, keeping the lead active versus being placed on the back-burner.
Establish calendar sharing for appointment scheduling – Arming your teleprospectors with access to the calendars of each of the sales representatives that they support will allow seamless scheduling of appointments. Considering that one of the most frequent complaints that sales representatives have about leads is difficulty in reaching them, establishing an appointment is absolutely ideal. A few additional best practices:
- Once the prospect agrees to an appointment, the teleprospector should set it on the sales representative’s calendar and send a meeting notice to both parties.
- The teleprospector should also track “acceptance” of the appointment by the lead contact.
- Additionally, the teleprospector can confirm attendance just prior to the appointment.
Allow sales reps to pass leads back to the teleprospector – A portion of leads will inevitably stall or be delayed due to changes in leadership, budget freezes, etc. Rather than closing leads when this happens, ideally they should funnel back to the teleprospector for further nurturing and revitalization. In addition to nurturing leads, the teleprospector should be responsible for:
- Identifying situations which require sales attention and escalating to the appropriate sales representative
- If the project fell through, seeking to understand why and identifying new priorities
- Determining if new IT projects are on the horizon
- If the business was awarded to a competitor, identifying which vendor was awarded the business and understanding the decision criteria
The best practices outlined above are designed to tighten collaboration and ultimately advance leads into the sales funnel for the highest possible return on investment.