With Major League Baseball’s spring training just around the corner, and the boys of summer returning to the diamond, the one thing that they will be focusing on are getting in tune with the basics. For without honing your basic skills, how can you expect to compete at advanced levels? This is also true for marketers.
Lead Gen 101
The most basic tenet of lead generation is knowing exactly who you want to talk to, what their title is, and how to contact them. For without these basic attributes, your finely crafted email message or voice prospecting pitch falls upon deaf ears. This is Lead Gen 101.
Companies, like HiP, painstakingly verify each response to B2B lead generation campaigns with a telephone call. Each call seeks to confirm the validity of the job title and contact information. When we pass along a lead to our clients, we know that this person can be reached at the phone number included with the lead and exactly what his role is in the organization.
Why is this necessary? When executives sign up for webinars or to download white papers, they are not always forth coming with their actual contact information. I can attest to this as I myself have often registered for an event as Prince Imad Eadoodee from OPEC, even taking the trouble to provide the genuine phone number for OPEC’s offices in New York City.
So, let’s take a look at how you could set up call verification in your office. Here at HiP, we employ the use of an automatic dialer to automate contacting the hundreds of leads that we acquire daily for our clients. On a smaller scale, manually dialing telephone numbers would work fine.
The Nuts & Bolts – Getting Organized
First you need to get your data organized. I would recommend using an Excel worksheet to store and display your contacts. Excel allows you to sort the data so that contacts may be sorted by:
- State first. This allows you to better manage your calls to the various time zones. There is no point in calling the Pacific Time Zone until at least 11:30 AM if you are based in the East.
- Company Name second. This allows you to see if there is more than one contact at the same location of the company. Gate keepers are much less likely to help you if you are calling three or four times consecutively looking for titles. Spread your calls to the same company location out over the course of the day(s).
- Contact’s Last Name thirdly. This helps to weed out the duplicates. The last thing you want is to lose your credibility by calling the same contact two or three times for the same reason.
To track the results of the calls you have made, I recommend using the color coding feature that Excel offers. Use a different color for call backs, bad numbers, verified contacts, and contacts you reached. Make your own color coding system up. The important thing is that you can view your results and know what happened and which calls still need to be made. Also, be sure to create a column to record any notes you may need for future reference.
The Nuts & Bolts – The Call
The entire purpose for calling is to verify the contact is the right person to speak to, a decision maker for your particular products or services. Some calls you may be a direct dial number, reaching the contact directly. Others may bring you to an administrative assistant, a switch board or automated attendant. Below we look at each of these scenarios.
Direct Dial – Wouldn’t it be great if everyone just gave you their direct number right up front? If you reach a direct number and you are greeted by a voice mail message, be sure to listen to the entire message. Pay attention to the name given to see if it matches the one on your list. Also listen to see if a title a direct extension number is mentioned.
If the name is correct, you are half way home. During the outbound message, press 0 to reach the operator or the covering extension. Once they pick up, ask them for the title of the contact you just called.
If the contact answers the line, it is important not to panic or stumble into your presentation. Take a deep cleansing breath and say, “Hello, Bob, I was hoping that you could help me. Would you be the person who…….” If they are, go right into your presentation. If he isn’t, ask if he can direct you to the appropriate person and be sure to ask how you can reach them. Lastly, verify the title you have for the person, so you know your information matches exactly.
Administrative Assistant – If an administrative assistant answers, I ask them for their help. You would be surprised how many people are willing to assist you if you ask for their help. Tell tehm that you want to send some information to the contact and just wanted to verify his email address. Give her the email address to build credibility. Then ask, “Is Bob still the [title name]?” It’s much easier to get a “Yes, that’s it” from someone than asking for a title that they may not know exactly what it is.
Switchboard/Auto Attendant – , if you reach a switch board attendant, simply ask if the contact is the VP of Whatever and be quiet. Let her answer your question. Do not over talk. If she doesn’t know, which is likely if there are a lot of people working there, either ask her to connect you to an admin in that area or directly to the person. Then follow the directions listed above.
If you reach an automated attendant try using the search by name feature to verify that the contact is at this number. If they are, be prepared to write down any extension it may give you. I immediately press zero to reach the switchboard in search of the title. The last option is to have the system connect you directly to the contact.
Should the contact not be listed in the directory, you will need to speak to the switchboard attendant directly. Often executives do not list their number on directories so they are not as easy to access. However, it is possible that this contact may work at another location of the company. Ask if the attendant can look the person up in their global directory and be sure to get the number at that location.
Tying Up Loose Ends
At the end of the day, you are going to have several loose ends that will need to be tied up. If a number was disconnected, go to your favorite search engine and put in the email address for the person. Most search engines give a phone number and the email address together when listing PDF’s or other company promotional data.
Some contacts you will have verified they are there, but didn’t get their title. Looking the contact up on LinkedIn is a great way to get title data. However, please note that not everyone keeps their LinkedIn profile current. The worst that can happen is that you reach the contact and they say I am no longer involved in that. The silver lining is that generally they will know who replaced them in that role.
Archiving Your Results
When you have completed your spreadsheet, copy and paste it to other worksheets that you have verified. This way, you are building an archive of verified contacts from which to draw upon. Having them all on one sheet keeps them organized and intact, so you don’t have to wonder which folder you might have saved it in.
With that, you have a set of basic best practices that companies, such as HiP, have used to create a successful call verification process. Using these techniques can make your future marketing campaigns more successful, as sales is all about making the right pitch to the right person at the right time.
Let us know what you think:
- How do you verify your data?
- Are most of your contacts up to date?
- How could you integrate call verification?