Tag Archives: call tracking

Recruiters: 3 tips to maintaining a great pipeline of qualified prospects

Much has been written abfunnel by renjith krishnanout the importance of maintaining a great pipeline of qualified prospects. But pipelining skills are difficult to develop – and often even more difficult to maintain. I’d like to offer three suggestions that can help any recruiter enhance this critical skill. And by developing your pipelining skills, you can more easily achieve (or exceed!) quota.

To make it simple, my three suggestions align with three phases of a “generic” pipeline: (1) top; (2) middle, and; (3) bottom.

Suggestion #1: Top of pipeline

Creating a healthy pipeline begins here, at the top, by ensuring you have identified enough “suspects” and have converted them into “prospects”. Take care to ensure you have developed more than one “plan of attack” when it comes to identifying passive candidates.

For example, only relying on emails or on simply hoping people find you with some keyword searches will not suffice. You have to become aggressive and be sure that you include a schedule of regular cold calling to fill the top of your pipeline.

As a salesperson, I relied on cold calling to help me develop my pipeline of clients. Without excellent cold calling skills, my pipeline would quickly run dry. If it’s been a while since you’ve done any substantial cold calling, start now! And don’t forget to plan what you will say if you get voice mail.

When cold calling, be especially careful not to make the initial call all about your “great opportunity.” Instead, keep in mind the purpose of your first call is to get a second call. To that end, be sure you can develop enough of a “hook” to engage the prospect and generate just enough interest to make the person agree to a follow-up call.

Be sure you are leveraging the power of referrals to increase your network of suspects for the top of your pipeline. Nothing “warms up” a cold call like a referral! In addition, studies have shown that when you mention a mutual contact in your message or initial call, you are much more likely to have a successful call.

Also, keep track of your conversion rates. Do you know how many cold calls result in a second call? Or how many cold calls eventually convert into active prospects/applicants? These are minimum statistics that any great sales person will know. Remember that it’s the top of the pipeline that makes the middle and the bottom possible.

Suggestion #2: Middle of pipeline

Once you’ve had a few conversations with your prospect, how successful are you moving them through the pipeline? If you are experiencing dropouts after engaging them, then consider that you have not done a good job of developing a compelling value proposition.

It’s the value proposition that will keep your prospects engaged. Without enough perceived value, prospects will quickly opt out. A great value proposition begins by knowing exactly what’s important to your prospect. You can’t assume that everyone puts the same value on the same things. For example, a great teaming environment – or perhaps growth opportunities – may be appealing to some, but not to others. Don’t make the “one size fits all” mistake when it comes to value propositions.

A common mistake less experienced sales people – and some recruiters – make is to talk too much about their “great company” or “awesome opportunity”. Savvy prospects won’t respond well to you wanting to “introduce yourself and/or your company”. They don’t have time for that. This isn’t a cocktail party or mixer.

Be sure you have developed great questioning and listening skills to quickly and accurately identify the “buying criteria” of your prospect. Once you understand what is important to them when it comes to making a decision about a new career move, you can develop your “customer-focused” value proposition.

Remember, it’s not about you – it’s about them. Considering the enormous effort you put into cold calling and filling the top of your pipeline, it makes sense to be sure you know how to keep your rock star prospects engaged. Without a customer-focused value proposition, your prospect will be ripe to quickly drop out of your pipeline. And that means no further opportunity; no opportunity means a certain but slow drying up of the pipeline.

Suggestion #3: Bottom of the pipeline

Congratulations! You’ve successfully converted those suspects into prospects and have kept them interested with your great value proposition. But you’re not quite “home free”. Don’t assume that just because your prospect has invested time already, they are an “assumed close”. Quite the opposite.

Although you should be “closing” throughout the pipeline process, the closing skills become even more important at the bottom of the funnel. At this stage, prospects and candidates will have questions – or even objections – that will need to be addressed with skill and care. One misstep here and you will run the risk of losing the opportunity out of your pipeline.

And at this stage, the cost of the lost opportunity is much greater because of the amount of time you have invested throughout the pipeline process. Protect your investment by confirming interest and anticipating and addressing any concerns. Sharpen your ability to navigate objections (especially salary objections) and be especially vigilant in addressing each concern. Leave nothing assumed. Ask, clarify, and confirm.

So there you have it! Three tips – one for each part of your pipeline. Start by developing great cold-calling skills, and don’t forget to track your results. Then be sure you know how to develop value by keeping the focus on your prospect’s needs. Finally, pay specific attention to those great closing skills – including managing salary objections.

With these tips in mind, you will be well on your way to a productive and healthy pipeline!

To your success.

Image courtesy of Renjith Krishnan/freedigitalphotos.net

3 tips to help you more efficiently move prospects forward

In today’s busy world, it’s easy to get side-tracked and forgetful. In sales — and in recruiting — keeping track of calls with prospects is critical to success.

arrows by fotographic1980

It may take several calls, spread over several weeks or months, to close business. But how do you keep track of your calls? How do you ensure that you are moving forward and gaining commitment with each call?

Here are three tips to help you become better at following up and moving prospects and candidates forward.

Tip #1: Make use of existing tracking systems to get in the habit of documenting each call

This might seem kind of basic, but sometimes we leave too much to memory or make assumptions about our “best intentions” for following up from our calls. Remember, as soon as you hang up “life happens.”

Make it a point to use a call tracking system or customer relationship management tool to document each contact, rather than depending on various “post-its”, other random jottings or (yikes!) memory.

The best system to use is the one you are most likely to use on a daily basis — or are already using — to track applicants. Try to leverage existing systems, rather than add new ones just to track prospect progress.

For example, if you use Taleo already as your ATS, find ways to incorporate notes in Taleo that help you track prospects — rather than trying to introduce other software or systems. Keeping it simple will increase the likelihood that you will be able to develop the habit of tracking your calls.

#2: Document action items

If your call requires follow up, be sure to capture any action items. The best way to build trust is to be diligent about following up. A best practice is to also include a time frame with each action item you document. Nothing kills rapport and trust more than missing commitments. Prospects expect you to know how to quickly and efficiently manage follow-up items.

Another benefit of documenting and tracking action items is that you demonstrate to your prospect that your are organized and professional. Remember that we are all “crazy-busy” and things can drop off our already-too-full plates. Your organized and efficient handling of action items can actually be a competitive advantage for you.

Tip #3: Use the “buying decision” as your frame of reference

It’s easy to track candidates with “seller-focused” milestones. For example, “1st screening interview” or “sent assessment” or “Initial call”. But these milestones don’t tell you exactly how you need to move a prospect forward — especially a passive candidate.

Instead, get in the habit of documenting where your prospect is in the decision-making process. This practice will help you know exactly where to pick up on your follow-up calls and how to build commitment in a way that acknowledges where your prospect is in the decision-making process.

For example, let’s say you had an initial conversation with a passive candidate and determined that the prospect might be open to making a career move for the right opportunity. You would document the call by noting the person is open to discussing a move — as well as any other key, relevant points you discovered on your initial call.

You would also document at this point that you have set up a 2nd call (noting, of course, date, time, etc) AND that your next step (call objective) would be to discover/identify the key “pain points” or job motivators that would need to be present for the person to make a change.

The point is that you keep careful notes about what you learn about your prospect and how you are helping that person make an informed career decision. Your notes should help you develop each subsequent call objective.

When you document your calls — using the decision-making process as your frame of reference — you are also giving yourself a nice road map for helping ensure you have commitment along the way. Always keep in mind that the conversation is not as much about you or “your process” as it is about them — AND the steps they need to go through to ensure they are comfortable making an important decision.

So get in the habit of quickly and accurately capturing information about each call and turning your notes into a key competitive advantage. Keep your focus on your prospect’s decision-making process and you will ensure that you are able to quickly and efficiently gain commitment and close those “rock star prospects”!

To your success.

 photo courtesy of fotographic1980/www.freedigitalphotos.net