2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a lot of change. Much of it was not good nor fun, to say the least. There have been positives, however, and in this post, I would like to outline one positive I think will be with us into the future.
OnTarget’s largest line of service is Targeted Prospecting. Either using companies and contacts provided by our clients, or conducting Tactical Research to find them, we take cold contacts and warm them up for our client’s sales team. We do so using a cadence-based approach – LinkedIn, email, and telephone outreach to prospects with a certain number of touches over a specific amount of time – a system that does the heavy lifting with and for us. Our services are white labeled for our clients, so typically the prospect never knows OnTarget is involved in the marketing process.
Once we have direct communication with a prospect who has received client collateral about the offering, and that prospect expresses interest in moving forward, we “hand-off” the prospect to the client representative. The vast majority of these hand-offs were via telephone conference calls.
What takes place next is what we call the Initial Relationship Development Conference, or IRDC. The IRDC is typically formatted like this:
A. Pre-call prep
B. OnTarget handoff (30 seconds)
C. Introduction/high level overview (3-5 minutes)
D. Conversation and exploratory questions (15-20 minutes)
- Determine fit and identify areas of interest
- Find the need/pain
- Get the prospect to articulate their authority, or the decision-making process
- Explore a timeline, as applicable
E. Close with a follow up meeting (3-5 minutes)
- By phone – if opportunity needs more definition
- In person – if opportunity is defined
These IRDCs typically take 25-30 minutes, and are effective. About 50% of prospects from IRDC become immediate Sales Qualified Leads (SQL) or Sales Accepted Leads (SAL). Another 25% or so become Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL).
Prior to 2020, less than 10% of our IRDCs were video conferences. Executive video conferences with prospects simply were not the norm. Then the pandemic hit in March.
After a very slow early spring, business picked up nicely in the summer. OnTarget was busy. And innovation was at play.
OnTarget associates were forced to learn all types of video conferencing systems – Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, WebEx, etc. We started by taking our internal meetings to Zoom meetings. Then, because clients were using these video conferencing tools also, our weekly client update calls became video calls. Then something amazing happened.
You see, prospects, too, were learning all about video conferencing. And what was scary and unnecessary before became a requirement for them, too.
The results are awesome for OnTarget. Instead of initial relationship development conference calls, we now have initial relationship development video conferences!
About 60% of the time, our clients get to look into the eyes of their prospects on the first call. Clients get to see how a prospect reacts to questions; what their expressions are communicating and how their body language appears.
With this, we have seen a significant uptick in the quality of our initial prospect conferences, leading to higher conversion to qualified leads, and more satisfied clients. And, what makes this even better – video conferencing is here to stay. This is certainly innovation in action.
I guess there is always a silver lining in dark clouds if you look close enough. Our IRDVs are proof of that!