Lately I have noticed a trend.
My typical week looks something like this...
I have some scheduled meetings that I need to do throughout the day. At those times I am usually doing either an exploratory call or a demo of our software. In the times where I am not scheduled to be in a planned meeting with a prospect I am usually prospecting. A lot of sales reps including myself don't take into consideration the person you are calling. Is this a good time to reach out to them? Put yourself in their shoes at that moment, do you have a good chance at reaching them RIGHT NOW when you click send?
Let's take an example day - I have a couple slots open where I could prospect. A wide amount of open time from 2-4 PM EST. That is the time that I have open in my day but that doesn't mean that I am going to get a good response from my efforts when I start to prospect. If you think about when a decision maker is actually at their desk it is probably not at that time. So as I start to think about what my decision maker might be doing at that moment and what they do throuhgout the day I start to wonder if it is actually a good use of my time to prospect then.
If I think about what decision markers are doing from 2-4 PM EST they are typically in meetings, dealing with crises, prepping for something, running from meeting to meeting or thing to thing. They are busy. They are not at their desk. People tend to pick up your phone call either super super early in the morning because that is when they are at their desk prepping for the day or late at night past 5 PM EST.
The other thing I have noticed has to do with emails and vmails. First off, if I call someone at 9 AM on the dot...if they pick up- they probably didn't mean to and they are going to be grumpy because it is the morning. I am grumpy at 9 AM too. Try to put yourself in your decision makers shoes to see what they would be doing at the time that you are reaching out to them. Reassess and think about when your efforts might actually get a better response rate. If you send someone an email during the day and that person happens to be in a meeting I am going to assume that the person will delete my email or mark it as spam without even reading it. That hurts, but it is the truth. My chance was cut short right there because I interrupted their day at a time when they were not ready for it or even open to it.
As a sales people we should think about what time we reach out to our leads - whether it is by email, phone, vmail, twitter, linkedin, etc. Think about what that person is likely doing right at that moment because if you catch them at the wrong time you might have your chances squashed right then and there. There goes your chances of catching them again because now you have interrupted their day with one more annoyance. Even if you had something helpful to say you might have lost your chance. They will remember that annoying moment and you will have less of a chance at getting their attention.
My suggestion is this:
- Book out time on your calendar at the end of each week for the next week where you label it prospecting. They should be in chunks of time where you can focus A LOT and get a lot done in that amount of time. These prospecting times should potentially be early in the morning. I have seen that if I block off Tuesday and Thursday morning from around 7-10 AM EST and work from home I get alot done. I don't have to commute to work where typically I would miss out on this time frame if I had been commuting. I have seen that I can make a good amount of smart calls, smart emails and smart vmails at this time. Where typically the person who I am sending this note to might actually be on their computer and answer me. The reason why is that they see it is coming at a weird hour and is not automated. This shows that you are human and you are trying to reach them when it is appropriate for them. I would also block out sometime between say 5-8 PM EST. I have seen that if you prospect at that time you get really good response rates as well. In particular PST is more likely to pick up in this time frame because half the country is not bothering those people at that time.
- Leave scheduled meetings for the middle part of your days or for certain chunks in your day. You could even have specific days of your week just for prospecting and certain days for planned sales meetings.
- I started to toy with the idea of scheduling my emails to go out at the times that I think would be more helpful or timely for the prospect. I have not tried this yet but am going to.
With smart prospecting I am asking you to work smarter, not harder. If you can think like the person you are reaching out to you- you will have better success in reaching them at the right times. Remember, your end goal is to help them. So, make it easier on yourself and start to think about how you might be able to reach the lead at the best time where you can put your best foot forward.