SMB Strategy: Five Keys for Developing an Effective Calling Campaign

SMB Strategy: Five Keys for Developing an Effective Calling Campaign

Nothing beats the human touch. For all the convenience of email and the buzz of social media, there’s far more sales power in two people actually talking together.

Enter the sales call, a much-neglected but foundational component for just about every business. Second only to talking with a customer in person, the sales call is an essential tool for closing the sale. It not only brings the human touch, it also creates the opportunity for customizing the pitch around a customer’s particular needs, answering specific questions that are impeding the sale, and discovering what the customer actually wants.

Sales calls are important, and going beyond haphazard use of this foundational business function requires mastering the art of the calling campaign. Campaigns aren’t just for big business with dedicated call centers, they are for any business that is serious about cultivating prospects and maintaining existing relationships. Without calling campaigns, businesses too easily focus on email and other methods that have their role but don’t replace the sales call.

Developing an effective calling campaign takes a little thought and effort, but it need not be onerous. Here are five of the essentials that go into developing a good calling campaign. Every SMB can use these techniques, even small firms without employees.

Key #1: Segment Your Audience

The first step in developing an effective calling campaign is defining and segmenting your audience. You can’t craft an appropriate message if you don’t know who you are talking with.

A good calling campaign will segment its audience based on characteristics such as geography, industry, size, title, department, previous sales and company interaction. It then will build its campaign around contacts that fit a specific set of these characteristics, and perhaps have several campaigns based on different segments that have been defined.

Building these segments can be accomplished within your CRM by using search queries combined with tags; contacts that fit the characteristics of your campaign can be tagged collectively or further segmented into several groups. These tags can be ongoing or particular to a specific calling campaign. They can be applied to contacts manually during the course of normal business or applied automatically based on contact behavior or the contact’s place in the sales cycle.

Key #2: Script Your Message

The second most important task after defining the audience for the calling campaign is building an appropriate message for this audience—and writing it down.

Let’s be clear: Don’t read a script verbatim during a sales call. Nobody likes getting scripted sales calls. When you call, even during a calling campaign, don’t read from a script.

What you should do, however, is have a script that you or your sales staff work from during a call. Like a TED talk, you should come into each call knowing exactly what you want to say and how you will say it. You just can’t sound like you’re working from a script.

So build a script and have it in front of you, but don’t read verbatim from that script. Instead, have it memorized or use the script as a reminder of key points you want communicated during the call.

Just like good sales voicemails, include context, show value and communicate your objective during the call.

Key #3: Automate Everything

While actual customer interaction is dynamic and unique, most other elements of a calling campaign are rote and monotonous. This is prime territory for automation, and effective calling campaigns automate as much as possible.

There are many areas in a calling campaign where you can use automation, even if your business has limited resources. These include the use of an auto dialer for good call pacing, auto-tagging of contacts, automated notes, workflows that advance or are initiated after a call, and followup emails or campaigns.

A good contact management solutions such as Agile CRM will offer many of these automations right out of the box or through a plugin. There also are third-party auto dialers and other calling campaign solutions in the cloud that SMBs can buy into on a monthly or as-needed basis. Get smart about automation.

Key #4: Take a Multi-Touch Approach

The sales call is important, but it should not act alone. A good calling campaign is part of a larger sales program that often includes followup calls, sales voicemails, automated and personal email blasts, and one or more face-to-face meetings.

When crafting an effective calling campaign, it is important that you situate your campaign within this larger sales context.When crafting an effective calling campaign, it is important that you situate your campaign within this larger sales context. Click To Tweet

Specifically, you should map out what touch points have occurred prior to the call and what will happen after the call based on the various potential outcomes. This might include a followup email and a new tag added to the contact, a reminder to call again in two weeks, or a flag to review the contact and create a sales proposal.

Whatever the next step, businesses should build their calling campaign as part of a larger sales effort that includes multiple touch points. Calling campaigns also should work in conjunction with these other touch points and factor them in during message creation.

Key #5: Schedule Time for Your Campaign

Finally, some advice specifically for SMBs: Build a schedule for your calling campaign. Good sales staff know they must have a calling routine, something like calling from 1-4pm every Tues, Thursday and Friday. Otherwise the calls don’t get made. The same goes for SMB calling campaigns.

If specific hours and days are not scheduled for your calling campaign, chances are that the campaign will drag or stall as other deliverable come due and the workday takes a mind of its own. So set aside defined hours for the campaign, and use automated reminders so the campaign doesn’t get off track.

These are five of the essentials for developing effective calling campaigns. But these aren’t the only keys. What are your calling campaign tips and tricks? Let us know in the comments below.

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Peter Kowalke

Peter Kowalke is a journalist and editor who has been covering business, technology and lifestyle trends for more than 20 years.

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