It's All in the Timing, Say a Couple Well-Known Sales Experts

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"If you call a lead in the first five minutes after they submit a web form, they're 100 times more likely to get on the phone," said Ryan Dohrn, founder/CEO Brain Swell Media. "So when that form is downloaded, it hits my salesperson's phone. People say, 'That's so creepy.' That's not creepy; that's good salesmanship. 'Hi. You just downloaded my media kit, do you have any questions?' 'Yes I do.'"

Dohrn also recommends giving "immediate access" to a media kit after people complete a simple form. (That form can contain as little as three pieces of information: name, email and optional phone. He doesn't want people fretting over it.) "They don't like it if you say you'll get back to them in 24-48 hours."

Are you following up? According to one study, more than 70% of sales leads are lost simply because the sellers don't make contact quickly enough after an initial contact. "Set callback times and follow up when you say you will," said Christina Karabetsos, executive vice president, QCSS, Inc, a telesales and solutions company. "Don't be embarrassed to follow up. You have something valuable to offer them!"

An MIT study of more than 600 companies found that the odds of a lead entering the sales process were 21 times greater if the business made contact within five minutes of generating the lead versus contact in 30 minutes. A Harvard Business Review study found that the average response time by businesses to a generated lead is 42 hours—and that's just for responses that occurred within 30 days."

In his new book When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing, Daniel Pink puts even more significance on timing. He says the biggest mistake business professionals make when scheduling meetings is "lack of intentionality"—meaning that we schedule things when people are available not when we might be at our best.  

"When we schedule meetings, we only think about one criterion—availability," said Pink in an article in Forbes. "Instead, we should be thinking about what kind of meeting it is: analytical, administrative, creative. We should be thinking about what type of people are there. Are they morning people or evening people?"

Pink, also author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others, added that "salespeople are more likely to overcome a prospect's default position earlier in the day—when moods are elevated—or immediately after a short break. We all suffer from cognitive fatigue. The brain consumes a ton of energy, and we get tired from all that thinking. We need short, frequent breaks to achieve peak performance." He advises scheduling a sales call in the morning or after your prospect returns from a break.

In To Sell Is Human, Pink wrote that we are all in sales now—at all times of day. "We are persuading, negotiating, and pitching, like lawyers selling juries on their verdict or public figures selling their personal brand on Twitter." In fact, a study Pink commissioned showed that people spend 40% of their work time selling something. More employees wear multiple hats now.

Finally, when are you first involving your sales people? Dohrn urges publishers to do it at the beginning. "Sales people really need to be involved in the whole process because you're creating tool sets for them to use," he said. "If they don't like the tool sets, they won't use them, and it just frustrates the marketer. So as much as it is a pain to deal with the sales person to create the tool kits, we've got to do that because sales people are very linear."

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…