Humanizing your audience’s experience with your brand is a game-changer not just for direct mail but for every channel in your marketing toolbox. That includes outbound calls by your sales team.
I write a lot about direct mail and tactile marketing automation (for obvious reasons), but when I heard about how Service Direct made a dramatic change to their calling tactics, I had to learn more. As it turns out, Service Direct threw their dial minimums out the window to focus instead on setting and holding demos.
- 35% decrease in the number of sales calls to set a demo
- 86% increase in the demo hold rate
But how, exactly, did they make their new tactic so successful? I suspected personalization must be involved. As we know from the 2020 State of Multichannel Marketing report, personalizing direct mail increases its effectiveness. Was the same true of phone calls?
Matt Buchanan, Co-Founder & Chief Growth Officer at Service Direct, was gracious enough to answer a few questions.
PFL Q&A Interview with Matt Buchanan
Tell us a little bit about Service Direct and the problems you were experiencing.
Service Direct is a technology company that offers proven local lead generation solutions that help service businesses grow. To drive more predictable growth, we began heavily focusing on outbound sales, mostly through phone calls but also using email outreach when requested by the prospect. All of the sales representatives we hired came from other sales floors where daily call volume trumped all other KPIs, so we adopted that philosophy and focused heavily on that metric.
Unfortunately, we weren’t seeing a positive correlation between dials and won deals, and the more we focused on dials the worse it seemed our reps performed.
It sounds contradictory to increase sales velocity by slowing down. How did you do it?
I think the first thing we had to do was put our ego aside and recognize that we were wrong. We were asking our reps to focus on the wrong things, and adversely impacting their ability to not only help our company grow, but to provide for themselves and their families. As a team, we have always stressed the need to be humble when assessing our performance, recognizing that we can always improve. And certainly our numbers were making clear this was one of those instances.
When we realized we needed to make a change, we started focusing on the bigger picture: closing more deals. That seems so obvious, but when we worked back from there, we were able to prioritize other things over call volume: namely, relationships. People buy from people. That was the “eureka” moment for us. As we started to refine our process around that philosophy, only later did we see the impact on our ability to close deals faster.
What discoveries did you make about personalizing the messaging in your calls?
I feel like this was the real breakthrough we had as a team. We slowly started to recognize the value of personalizing ourselves and humanizing our interactions with prospects. That’s when the magic started to happen. For instance, often times our reps would call in for the decision maker and be told they were on vacation. Instead of just moving on, our reps trained on going into our CRM to notate that. It took extra time and slowed down their ability to make the next dials, but the next time they called they would ask the prospect how their vacation went. Little things like that grab the attention of the prospect and create an opportunity to humanize the interaction. Maybe our rep had been there before and could reference a destination or eatery? At that point, we’re no longer a stranger on the other end of the line; we’re a person with shared experiences.
Prospects began opening up about themselves and their companies. It allowed us to not only build a relationship with our prospects, but also garner information that would inform our next steps. Oftentimes we learned that they weren’t an ideal prospect, so our reps could close out that prospect and focus on other opportunities. And for those that remained viable prospects, we learned more about their story, their challenges, their way of operating and making decisions, which ultimately allowed us to speak more specifically about how our solution solved their unique problems.
“We learned more about their story, their challenges, their way of operating and making decisions, which ultimately allowed us to speak more specifically about how our solution solved their unique problems.”Matt Buchanan
At PFL, we talk a lot about creating remarkable brand experiences. How did your prospects’ experiences with your brand change with your new outbound strategy?
I think you are spot on. “Remarkable” is defined as “worthy of attention.” When cold calling, getting a prospect’s attention is the hardest part. That’s where focusing on humanizing ourselves and our engagements became a huge differentiator for our reps. They weren’t sterile voices on the other end of the phone line. They were real people that showed genuine interest in better understanding the prospect they were speaking to. Ultimately, that stood out and allowed us to penetrate opportunities better and faster.
Your company growth used to be entirely organic through referrals and inbound web leads. Why do you think multichannel marketing is essential for growing businesses?
We preached multichannel marketing to our clients for years…but sadly, it was a “Do as I say, not as I do” message. But as we started trying to understand how we could scale more predictably and cost-effectively, it became clear that having our eggs in one or two baskets wasn’t going to work. Then, as we started to diversify channels, we started to recognize the importance of ensuring those efforts are coordinated. That’s a lot harder than it sounds, but by investing in the tools and training necessary to effectively execute on multichannel marketing, it’s helped transform our company.
To read the complete Service Direct success story and get the rest of their tips for humanizing outbound calls, click here.
To get the 2020 State of Multichannel Marketing report, click here.
At PFL, we help leading brands grab attention in remarkable ways. We can provide 15-minute notifications after the delivery of direct mail to help humanize your outbound calling, making it timely and personal. To find out more: