Top Strategies for Maximizing Response Rates

John is a sales trainer for some of the world’s leading tech companies, including Box, LinkedIn, MarketTo, SalesForce, and Zendesk. 

When I first started in sales, I was given a script, a list, and a monthly quota and told to go. I “figured it out,” but most people are not successful in sales because we don’t train salespersons effectively. A lot of people think sales is an art, but I disagree. I think that sales should be thought of as both a science and an art.

Contact Strategy Matters

You need to be prepared when you contact prospects and think about what you’re saying. Also, you need to be persistent. Remember though, there is annoying persistence and professional persistence.

Don’t use the terms like “checking in” or “touching base” when you call a prospect. These words are cliche and they are a waste of time if you get someone on the phone. Use the phrase, “The reason for my call is…” or, “Hi, I wanted to talk about…”

Test Different Strategies For Different Sales Activities

I’ve sold for a variety of different companies. For one of the companies that I worked for, I found out that for every 1600 prospects I contacted, I would make 8 meetings, 4 proposals, and 2 sales.

This was my conversion and I didn’t work scientifically to improve my conversion. When I prospect now, I test the different messages that I use to prospect and call people. I look at the conversion ratio for each of these different approaches at each stage of my pipeline and figure out what the best message is going to be. By doing this, I’ve been able to increase my number of sales without increasing the number of prospects that I contact.

When you look at the activities that you make for your sales, you should always consider what are the number of activities that you need to make in order to make your quota. If there isn’t enough time in the month to make your quota at your current conversion, you need to make a change. Use the testing method I described and you’ll be able improve the chances that you’ll meet or exceed your quota.

Define the target

When you’re focusing in on a target, some prospects are ready to be contacted by a salesperson and some need to be nurtured by your marketing team. Lead scoring from services like Marketo can help your prospecting, but they can also have you chasing down a rabbit hole. The science of lead scoring will let you know to call them, but the art of selling will help you figure out when you should stop calling them.

When targeting, you should split your leads into tiers. Within those tiers, you should consider which leads are good, average, or bad. This will help create a spreadsheet of information that you can use to target the best people to contact. When I think of my prospects, tier 1 represents my quality, tier 2 represents my quantity, and tier 3 represents my practice.

Who do you talk to?

Figuring out who you should talk to is important. Most of the time, this isn’t going to be your C-level executives. With that being said, C-Level executives can be great people to go to if you’re trying to figure out the right person to sell to. Let them know why you are calling them and they’ll most like refer you to the person who will be in a position to make a decision. I always try a top-down approach first if they are an A-target of mine.

Remember, top executives don’t listen to “touching in” or “checking up on.” They want you to know about them and their business, hear new ideas, and see your results. Don’t ask the question, “what keeps you up at night.” They expect you to know that already because you’ve done your homework. Be direct and to the point, easy to respond to, and have professional persistence.

Some other things to consider:

– Execs care about ROI so you need to speak in numbers for them.

– Most email is being read on a cell phone.

– People make up their mind in 2.7 seconds about whether they want to open up emails, which means that your subject lines matter.

– When you’re calling, say, “Hi, I’m John and I am calling about…”

Have a contact strategy

83% of high sales performers have a defined strategy and make 4  – 8 attempts. You have to have a defined contact strategy – I recommend 5 unique touches in 30 days. Each touch should have a unique message and reason to want to connect with you.

Tools that I use

Some different tools that you should look at for selling/researching – LinkedIn, Salesloft, InsideView, Gagein, Google Alerts, Talkwalkeralerts, Blogs, Yesware, Facebook, Twitter, ToutApp, and Feedly.

Every morning, I open up my Firefox with these apps pre-loaded up and scan through the tabs to get information. I use that information to write 2 or 3 well-written and contextual emails for prospects.


Sales Hacker Conference is a meeting of top sales execs sharing the unique sales hacks they’re using to attain nine figure revenues in B2B sales. Sales Hacker Conference was held on April 24th, 2014 at SPiN in New York City.

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