In the last four weeks, I have been able to add 26% of my targeted annual quota to my pipeline. This increase wasn't one major deal but a combination of multiple opportunities with different companies (all new prospects). I'm not a genius. I don't have a secret weapon for success. I have just learned to stay true to my touch plan. Prior to Butler Street, I held sales positions for multiple companies and some offered variations of a touch plan, but to say I followed through with them would be an understatement. I didn't believe in them, I worked for managers that made it optional, and I wanted quick wins. At Butler Street, a sales touch plan is part of our culture and rightfully so. Utilizing a plan has helped me achieve success and discover the realities behind why it works.
3 reasons you need to be disciplined with your prospecting touch plan:
Reality #1: Quantity AND Quality…not one or the other
The first and most important reality I discovered was that you need both quantity and quality. Quantity in the number of companies you are reaching out to and quality in your messaging (voicemails, emails, call scripts). I can look back at different times of my career and see how many times I took shortcuts on both. Examples include:
Quantity: I would stop reaching out to contacts after 3 or 4 touches because I believed "if they were interested, they would have already responded by now."
Quality: If I did continue with the touch plan, I was going through the motions to hit my call numbers rather than focusing on the quality of the message.
To My Fellow Sales Reps: Earlier in my career, I focused on trying to find the "get rich quick" prospects. Those ready to buy on the first or second touch. Today, instead of just having those individuals in my pipeline, I have them in addition to the individuals I was able to connect with on the 12th, 13th, or 14th touch. The combination makes life a lot easier when worrying about quota, performance, etc. and the combination of the two is only possible by staying committed to your plan. My advice to you…build a strategic touch plan and stay with it.
To Leaders / Managers: Take the time to build out a plan with your team. Sometimes, it takes me a full day to build out a touch plan. But I promise you it is worth it. Focus on the messaging with your team and hold them accountable around the plan. Give positive feedback when they have wins from their plan and provide effective coaching when they start to move away from it. Review their email templates, voicemail scripts, etc. Share with them what catches your attention when you receive emails or calls from sales reps and tell them why. This will help them with their own messaging.
Reality #2 - Accountability & Trust
The second reality centers on mindset. If I were to explain why I didn't use a touch plan before Butler Street, I would say it was because I lacked accountability and I didn't believe I needed one. I believed that I could "wing it" by scrolling through all my contacts and accounts and then pick out individuals to call. I am motivated to hit my numbers, so if I had to dial 100 calls, I would. But had I worked smarter and not harder through a touch plan, I would have avoided those longer days. Mediocre is the best way to describe this mindset. Most touch plans I use are 16 touches over 12 weeks and personal accountability is a must for this type of timeframe, but you also need to trust the process. In sales, it's easy to get discouraged and make changes when you do not see immediate results. If you trust in your plan, your messaging, and your execution, I promise you the results will follow.
Reality #3 - Always Adding More
I have had touch plans result in meetings, new opportunities, and closed deals. I've also had touch plans that didn't get one meeting, one new prospect, or one response other than "unsubscribe." The harsh reality behind both scenarios? No matter the size or quality of your touch plan, you always need to add more prospects and build out new plans. I have formed the habit of always adding and sourcing new companies to my prospect list. Some days, it requires more grit than others to stay disciplined, but I know what life is like when I don't do this. By building out sales touch plans and always working on adding more, I have reduced:
Stress around hitting my quota
Stress around pipeline calls with my boss
Stress around personal financials
Building out touch plans requires work. Prospecting and sourcing companies, formulating lists, creating effective messaging templates, etc. can be time-consuming. But I promise you, the success that follows is worth it.
Prospecting best practices and tools such as the 12 week, 16 touch plan are included in Butler Street’s Sales Effectiveness training. If you’d like to learn how we help companies and their people grow through custom training, regional workshops and eLearning, let’s talk.