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Get the Appointment or Fill the Pipeline?

by Gail Milton on Tue, Feb 24, 2009

 
There is a very common, often overlooked challenge facing many Inside Sales Teams: is supporting individual requests from the Field hindering my goals, objectives & process?

Very often Inside Sales Rep will get the following request from one of their Field partners:

I'm going to be in Toledo for three days next month. Can you get me some appointments? Just get me in the door!

This poses a dilemma.
Does the Inside Rep put their calling strategy and process on the shelf in order to get the Field Rep appointments when/where they are traveling?

The reality is a no win situation.
In many cases, the Inside Rep won't even get paid for setting a meeting unless they are deemed qualified. This is in direct conflict with the notion of "get me in the door".

Furthermore, instead of spreading their prospecting net wide, Reps will narrow their focus and call the same 10 prospects repeatedly for the next 3 weeks.  But at what cost?

  • If they support multiple Field Reps, these requests begin to eat away at their prime objective which is to fill the pipeline with qualified opportunities or close business.
  • Instead of adding value and solving problems for potential prospects, they become an annoyance as their number displays repeatedly on the caller ID.

Inside sales requires a consistent, repeatable process and messaging that delivers a strong value proposition and educates the prospect. Using Inside Sales to create "activity" for the Field is in reality a waste of the resource. 

A solution for some is to consider outsourcing appointment setting to a 3rd party.
The company Green Leads has a very interesting model.  They offer a  "self service" model: no minimums, pay after the meeting occurs and oh yeah, no lists to provide.  They also have an integration with Salesforce.com available so your Field Reps can upload an Account record to them with the click of a button. Amazing!

Taking the outsourced approach, your Field Reps get what they need from an "activity" perspective AND your Inside team stays focused on having conversations with prospects that result in qualified leads.

If, on the other hand, Inside Sales will be setting "when/where" appointments, here are a few suggestions:

  • Try to set one qualified meeting as an anchor and then set introductory appointments to fill the calendar.
  • Set proper expectations with the field - only 10% of the prospects targeted will agree to a meeting and only a few of those will actually convert to a real opportunity.
  • Create a consistent process for appointment setting.  Document the number of attempts you will make within a pre-determined number of business days.  Use a combination of contact methods; dials, voice messaging, social networking and email.  

A documented call process will allow you to tweak for success and, most importantly will force the Reps to let go and move on to greener pastures.

How do you / your team work with & support the Field?

Topics: sales process, inside sales strategy, lead qualification

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