In 2001 an average call success ratio in the staffing and recruiting industry was six to one. Recruiting expert trainer Tom Erb explains “If I made 60 phone calls I could expect to talk to ten people during that entire day”. Today, that ratio is around 22 to one. That means the same call volume from 16 years ago is now 73% less effective.
To beat the shift in call effectiveness, you have three choices:
- Make more calls
- Get the prospects to call you back
- Convince prospects to answer the phone when you call
The third strategy is the one we’ll be focusing on today: Getting prospects to answer your call.
Change the game
The first step is a shift in mindset. Think about approaching prospecting as a game of chess, not war.
Most sales people approach prospecting like the card game war. Two players each slap down a card and the higher card wins. It’s very transactional. It’s a one-time, pass/fail event.
Now consider the game of chess. Each move positions you to win the game, but you can’t win chess in one move. Think about sales activity in the same way. Focus less on any one individual conversation, email, phone call or voicemail and more on the overall goal of moving toward a close.
“Right-size” your net
Set a number of prospects you’re going to pursue and stick to your number. The key here is to cast the right size net. Cast too wide of a net and you can’t reach out to people as frequently as needed. Cast too narrow of a net and you’ve put all of your eggs in one basket. Tom’s recommendation for recruiters and staffing companies is 300 prospect companies.
Make them familiar with you
Set up a staggered 10-week cycle where each prospect hears from you 12 times in 10 weeks. Start with 100 of your 300 prospects in week one. In week two, move the first 100 to touch point number two and pick another 50 to contact for the first time. The goal is to make your prospect familiar and comfortable with your name.
Start with a letter
Consider the shift in email popularity and the decline in postal volume. Your client is actually more likely to read a written letter now than an unsolicited email. Avoid the mass mail look. Hand address the envelope and opt for a real stamp over metered postage.
For some of your 12 touchpoints, lead with a piece of content; a blog, whitepaper, webinar or article will work. Make sure the article is relevant to your prospect’s job or industry. If your company doesn’t have content for you to use, find an article online. Send your content along with a short, personalized email like “saw this article and thought it might be of relevance to you”. You don’t need to try to sell anything in these touch points. Remember, it’s a game of chess, not war.
Complete all 12 touches
The majority of sales happen between the fifth and 12th contacts. The problem is that most salespeople give up after the second or third attempt. Think about sales reps that reach out to you. How often do you hear from them more than a handful of times? Consistency is key. The goal is to make your prospect familiar with you. You can’t do that in only two or three contacts. Make your prospect comfortable with your name and they are far more likely to answer when you call.
End with a “takeaway”
If after 11 touches, the prospect has not engaged, end with a send-off email. “It’s seems that you either don’t have a need for our services or I haven’t done a good job showing you why we’re different. Either way, I’m going to back off.” We’ve helped the prospect become comfortable with our name over the past 10 weeks and now we’re taking something away. Time after time prospects perk up after this last effort.
It’s no secret that calling on recruiting and staffing prospective clients is harder now than ever. Seventy-three percent harder, to be exact. But there is still success to be gained by those who are willing to follow a consistent contact schedule, separate themselves from competition, and inject some creativity into sales efforts.
The content from this article originally appeared in a People 2.0 webinar featuring Tom Erb. To view the full webinar, including more detail about the 10-week prospecting cycle, please click here.