Those of us who have teleprospected in our day know that getting prospects to open up to inside sales person is no easy task. At times it can seem like pulling teeth for them to give us anything at all.

Now I’m not referring to situations where you’re following up on a warm lead from a webinar, tradeshow, website visit. Those don’t count.  No, I’m referring to the calls when you finally get your target title on the line for the first time, you ask them your first probing question and they say something to the effect:

“Why the %$$# would I tell you that!?”.

Of course out of professional courtesy they’ll most likely use kinder words, but that is probably what they’re thinking.  They don’t know you from a hole in the wall so it makes sense that they may feel that way, right?

Does the 80-20 rule apply to teleprospectingI assume most of you have heard of the 80/20 rule. 80% of your sales are made by 20% of your sales staff/products. We often hear this theory applied when actively selling to prospects as well.

So this begs the question; Is it possible to listen 80% of the time while talking only 20% when you cold call?

Again, I think we can see this rule makes sense when someone has actually raised their hand and demonstrated interest in speaking to you….but not when it comes to cold calling. The folks who think the 80/20 rule applies to all situations probably haven’t had to make many cold dials during their sales career.  I would even argue that the “MQLs” that we see coming our way often require much more poking and prodding from the teleprosecting team before they’re willing to open up.

So what is the ideal split between talking and listening when you finally have your target title live? It’s an inexact science but we’ve found that we’re better off sticking closer to a 50/50 split. The key is establishing some creditability in the eyes of an already skeptical executive who is most likely going to be short since you’ve interrupted their busy day. As a result you’ll most likely have to do more talking than the average sales rep would prefer. From what we’ve seen this is necessary since you need to demonstrate some value in their eyes and if you don’t the call will most likely die a quick death 30 seconds in.

Once you have them “hooked” and they’re willing to give you a few more minutes of their time, doesn’t always mean they’re going to open up the flood gates. With these initial discussions you have to be willing to share as much as they’re willing to.

So how are you engaging your prospects when you cold call? Do you agree with my 50/50 rule or do you think it requires some adjustment?