October 15, 2019 in Tips by

At Reliable Acorn, we work with businesses to improve their online visibility and increase traffic that generates leads. Of course, the main goal is that these leads become new customers. There’s nothing better than being able to provide our clients with leads that they then turn into new loyal customers. What’s disappointing is that we can’t control what clients do with those leads.

We recently spoke to an expert from the boutique prospecting firm, Piedmont Prospecting, for some advice about how to create customers from leads. Chad Cuttino, President of the firm, was happy to share his insights.

David Zimmerman: What are some of the common mistakes you notice that companies make when trying to close a lead?

Chad Cuttino: There are a ton of mistakes that companies have when they have an inbound lead process. The first is not contacting the lead as quickly as possible.

I could tell you so many stories about companies that I’ve worked with that have a pretty robust inbound lead program, with leads coming to them either through the website or through marketing campaigns. But, the people in charge of business development who are supposed to reach out to those leads sometimes don’t reach out for a week, two weeks, a month, and sometimes they don’t even reach out at all. The leads just fall through the cracks. It’s just a strange phenomenon, dropping the opportunity.

So, first and foremost, getting back to a lead that has inquired into your business is critical, I’d say in an hour at most. That’s probably going to raise your chances about 70% for getting the business. Buyers these days are probably looking at two to three sources for the services or products that they need. If you’re not hopping on that lead and making contact very swiftly, your competitor will. So, that’s a big mistake.

Another mistake that some business development reps make when selling over the phone, is trying to sell the product or service. If your job is to create appointments or meetings for the sales team, you need to shy away from trying to sell the product or service, and instead try to sell the appointment, making it as prequalified as possible. For the business development rep, pre-qualified may mean finding one, two, or three challenges that this person who inquired to the organization may be having, that your company can take care of. And then it should end about right there. You may want to find out who is going to come to the table at this meeting, who the decision-makers are, but that’s about it.

David: Tell me more about selling the appointment rather than selling the product or service.

Chad: What I do for clients is gather information on their prospects, to see if they’d be a good fit for further conversation, more of a meaningful conversation to discuss my clients’ products or services. That’s where my job ends, and my clients’ job begins. My goal is to get the prospect on the phone, and find out those one, two, or three challenges that they’re having, and then set them up with the appropriate person to take it to close.

Now, if I get into the weeds with these prospects, on behalf of my clients, and start answering questions about what my client does, and how they do it, and how long they’ve been doing it, I’m going to stub my toe because my clients know their products and services a lot better than I do. My job is to connect the prospect to the client for that meaningful conversation. And that’s what people in business development roles need to do, so the prospect doesn’t say, “Okay, great, thanks for your time, no need to talk to a rep,” and then take that information and make decisions on their own. That’s not what we want. We are selling the appointment; we’re not selling the products and services.

David: What are your tips to improve that success rate in getting that appointment?

Chad: The response time is critical. You need to have zero call reluctance and get that interested party on the phone. You have to have a strong mindset and attitude, because people are going to want to hear all about the products and services on that call. So, you have to have a clear goal-oriented approach to responding to these inbound leads. A great idea is to do a minute of research. You have the name of the person who inquired. You more than likely have their business company name. Take a minute to look at LinkedIn, Google them, and find out some fun facts about them. Things like: where they went to school, where their hometown is, whatever the case may be. You want to find something that’s going to break the ice a little bit.

It’s a good idea to set up expectations for the phone call as well. Leading the conversation is key as well from the get-go. You don’t want to reach back out to them, or contact an inbound lead saying, “Okay, this is Chad Cuttino, thanks for contacting us, what can I do for you?”

It’s important to set up some parameters for the phone call. It could be something upfront like, “Hello, this is Chad Cuttino, thank you so much for inquiring to our business.” And then you can share a little bit of a fun fact if you’ve done your research there to break the ice and build some rapport and say, “Hey, listen, thanks for inquiring. I’d like to learn a little bit more why you approached us? Can you share with me, maybe one or two reasons why you reached out to us?” Let them start talking. The goal here is to let them talk 70% of the time and we’re talking only 30% of the time. That’s kind of an old adage, but it’s so true.

David: Thank you, Chad, you’ve been really helpful. Can you tell us about what your company does?

Chad: I’m the president of Piedmont Prospecting. We typically work with small business owners and small sales teams across the country. We are a supplemental business development firm. That means we support our clients’ business development efforts by reaching out to their prospective customers. We can share their story, update contact information, and (if it makes sense) arrange meaningful meetings. Piedmont Prospecting is not a telemarketing or telesales company. We intend to arrange pre-qualified meetings for our clients and to represent their company respectfully.

David: I’m sure a lot of companies could benefit from your services.


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David spoke at WordCamp ATL in October 2023

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