Using the phone to penetrate your target account list with Catherine Brinkman

Dec 12, 2019
Author: Collin Stewart

The target account list: the backbone of every salesperson’s day, quarter, and year. It’s the roadmap, the blueprint, the keys to the kingdom.

But, of course, a target account list needs to be handled by a rep. Sure, an account list has all the prospect-level information someone needs to get started – but to close that list of names takes a lot of work. 

A lot of work.

For Catherine Brinkman, sales leader and President of BHY Consulting, penetrating your target account list, starts with preparation. You’ve got to know what’s on that list before you pick up the phone.

“It’s understanding what’s on that list. This is hard. If you’re new, you get a list. And you need to close – but you don’t know what’s on the list,” says Brinkman, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

“So, I suggest spending 5 mins per account. What do these people do? Then, look in your CRM and understand what has happened on the account already. This will help you familiarize yourself with that list, regardless of size. This is very important.”

Developing warm intros

The information you glean from your CRM – previous account activity, different leads contacted, any “timeline” information about when the account might be in a buying cycle – will form the basis of your “warm intros.”

For example, you have an account, with a 3 different contacts, listed in your CRM. One of those contacts told a previous sales rep to call back in 6 months, when they’ll be ready to start a sales cycle. It’s been about 7 months since that call was made and recorded in your CRM…so it’s time to reach back out.

Based on the notes you have access to, and the previous activity, this is a warm lead. But – and this is important – it is only a warm lead of you use that information in your outreach. If you don’t you will fail to connect those dots and miss out on the distinct advantage you have engaging with that account.

“Make sure they know who you are – be a human, make a human connection. For example, if you see something in the news about their company, talk about that,” says Brinkman.

“Engage those that are favourable to your company. This goes a very long way.”

And, of course, people jump ship a lot – so building a relationship with your contacts can help down the road as well. For example, maybe someone you’ve sold eventually moves on to a more senior role in a new company. 

You now have a new warm lead to sell to again.

“Keep those connections, offer your help where possible,” adds Brinkman.

“Understanding that these are long term relationships, regardless of company.”

Going in cold

Unfortunately, not all leads, regardless of the information you have about them, can be considered warm (if only, right?).

So when you’re working cold leads, preparation and research is even more important. For instance, understanding industry trends and buying motive is critical. 

Why does an industry behave as it does? Why does an industry purchase similar software or services? What trend (or trends) inspire that?

According to Brinkman, she looks for these elements when researching cold leads:

  • First, she breaks down leads by industry.
  • Che looks at the trends in the news (by industry).
  • Then, researches what is trending in the high-revenue companies on the account list (by looking at what their internal PR team is producing and connecting the dots between that and what’s in the news).
  • Listens to earnings calls (for public companies).
  • Listens and follows Social media, podcasts, etc, (in case a target’s CEO, for instance, is featured on a podcast).

By weaving these elements together, you create a statement of credibility. You’re showing your prospect that you’ve done your research, you know their company and industry, you know how you can help them, and you’ve proven you’ve helped companies just like them. 

This is how you build trust.

Cold phone calls

On cold call, Brinkman likes to block off a portion of her day, based on the amount of calls she wants to make. For example, if she intends to complete 200 calls in a day, then that’s how she allots the time – she doesn’t block off, say, 2 hours in the morning.

By structuring her time this way, she ensures she completes her task, not just uses up the time blocked on her calendar.

“With cold calling – you are setting that block, and then seeing how fast you can get through them. If you get a gatekeeper, and they ask you if you want to hold, say yes. Then, you can call back on your cell phone to the same people. Or stay on hold, and keep sending emails,” says Brinkman.

“You have to be persistent. They expect you to hang up. So, stay on the line, and be persistent.”

(Editor’s note: we had Johann Nogueira on the pod a while back to discuss how to diagnose bottlenecks and find hidden revenue in your demand generation pipeline. You can read about our chat here, or listen to the entire in-depth interview here)

Cold emails

For her email, Brinkman employs an interesting method of writing out a voicemail, then writing a second voicemail, and, finally, compiling that copy into an email. 

The email, she says, is always ROI focused; entirely concerned with how your good or service solves a problem (saves them money, perhaps) for the prospect. She never, ever includes pricing information in her emails.

As for her template, it’s quite simple:

  • Subject: Hi (from company X)
  • Opening lines of the mail is simple, just her name, and a short intro.
  • Then, let them know “you’re trying to get a hold of you for x, y, z reason.”
  • Be upfront about it.
  • And, finally, end with “this is a cold email, let’s get lunch.”

“That last tactic works well with leadership, of the C-suite of larger companies,” says Brinkman.

“It is something they aren’t expecting, something out of the blue, and that surprise factor works in your advantage.”

Using LinkedIn

Finally, who can forget the importance of LinkedIn in today’s prospecting landscape? 

For Brinkman, this is still a work in progress. About two years ago, she was using Sales Navigator, and was getting meetings.

But, LinkedIn messaging, especially from salespeople, has become a standard part of a cadence.To craft a more effective LinkedIn message (one that stands out from the crowd), Brinkman crafts a similar message the emails she writes – complete with s strong statement of credibility.

“I get a lot of LinkedIn messages per day. So to make it work, I send a strong message, let a prospect add me, and then I let it rest for a couple of days before I ping them,” says Brinkman.

“Thus far, I’m getting a 15% conversion rate after only a couple of months worth of experimenting. Don’t forget, it has to be genuine and credible.”

For more on Brinkman’s thoughts on protecting and killing your target account list, check out the rest of her interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.