Follow The Lead

Seven prospecting rules that produce leads

Brian_Carroll HEAD SHOTGuest Blog

Seven prospecting rules that produce leads

By Brian Carroll

Roughly 92% of b-to-b buyers are open to cold calls if the sales person’s pitch is relevant, according to MarketingSherpa. That means that despite all of those poorly trained prospectors in sales, picking up the horn can still be a very effective lead-generation tool. In fact, if you follow a few simple rules you can tremendously improve your tele-prospecting efforts.

Step 1: Sustain the calling – This means that you have to be in it for the long-haul. You can’t pressure your prospects to make a decision on the first call. Take your time and follow up with more information. Listen to what they’re asking and if you don’t know the answer, just say so and then follow up to provide the answer.

Step 2: Make every call count – Teleprospectors should never end a call upon hearing that the targeted individual is unavailable. Take time to be helpful to the assistant, or update and verify your database by working to share information for this source. Always ask if there is an alternative decision maker available.

Step 3: Lose the scripts – Telemarketers use scripts. Teleprospectors use call guides. Scripts leave little room for conversation. Call guides are simply strong outlines designed to perpetuate conversation with suggested areas to be discussed and questions to be asked. They must be built with flexibility and assume variable outcomes while still staying on message and promoting key relevancies to the customer.

Step 4: Respect Executive Assistants – Don’t view the Executive Assistant as a barrier to initiating dialogue. Don’t treat anyone as lesser and don’t be afraid to develop a relationship with people with the title “Assistant.” EAs can occupy a significant place in the sphere of influence, not to mention the boss’ ear.

Step 5: Be relevant – When you’re making a call, the worst thing you can do is to call someone and know nothing about them. You must have a sound, working knowledge of each potential customer and the company.  Perhaps more important, know the issues they face and how your product can help solve them. This step goes a long way in establishing meaningful dialogue.

Step 6: Gain opt-in – When you are speaking with a prospect, it is proactive to request permission to e-mail subsequent helpful information. Most folks won’t mind receiving an e-mail from you to follow up the phone call. This will provide another building block for staying in touch.

Step 7: Always follow up – It is crucial that you follow up in a way that is precise in terms of promptness and relevancy toward your prospect’s needs. And, when you follow up you need to do so in the manner requested. If they decline a follow up phone call and ask that you email them instead, make certain you do as asked.


Brian Carroll is CEO of  InTouch and author of “Lead Generation for the Complex Sale” (McGraw-Hill) and the B2B Lead Generation Blog.

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September 3, 2009 - Posted by | Lead Generation | , , , , , , ,


  1. Brian,

    Great ideas. I especially like #6. If you make obtaining an opt-in a key objective, cold-calling can be a lot less of a time waster.

    For those who hate the idea of cold-calling, I’d add that the calls can be a lot less cold if you take the time to develop a decent nurturing program. (I’m sure Brian can help.)

    All the best!

    Melissa Paulik

    Comment by Melissa Paulik | September 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. Brian,

    Good, concise advice.

    I thought your point about losing the script (Tip#3) is essential in order to be relevant to the buyer, something you can’t be if you’re reading from a script. And of course all your hard work will only yield results with follow up that’s appropriate for the prospect.

    Denise Brown

    Comment by Denise Brown | September 14, 2009 | Reply

  3. Asking prospects for permission to email material sounds like a great idea. Instead of asking for their email address ask for permission to send material and then ask for their email address.

    Comment by D. Friedman | September 15, 2009 | Reply

  4. […] here to read the rest of Carroll’s steps, and feel free to comment with any steps you find necessary […]

    Pingback by Use the Telephone to Generate Leads : Media Sales Today | September 23, 2009 | Reply

  5. Great article,

    I would also add that there is a balance between researching your prospect, and talking to them with the assumption that you know their needs. Let them tell you about themselves, don’t assume you know – or you’ll lose the tendency to ask questions – which will make or break that first contact.

    Kathy Tito

    Comment by Kathy Tito | September 25, 2009 | Reply

  6. Brian,

    I know I’m preaching to the choir, but you have to have a good nurturing program backing up this calling effort.

    The other thing you have to do to make this work is to have a solid value proposition. You don’t have to have a script, but have that opening line polished.

    And, for heaven’s sake make sure your opener is about somebody else and not yourself. e.g. Nobody cares that you’re the global leader in widget delivery systems. However, they might care that you helped another company cut the delivery time of their widgets by three weeks.

    All the best!

    Comment by Melissa Paulik | September 30, 2009 | Reply

  7. Thanks so much Melissa. From your mouth to God’s ears re sales execs making sure they don’t talk about themselves in the opening salvo.

    Comment by mpschwartz | September 30, 2009 | Reply

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  9. […] various actions are subsets of the ‘Seven prospecting rules that produce leads,’ a guest blog that was written by b-to-b sales specialist Brian Carroll, who is CEO of InTouch and author of […]

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  11. Great post – I particullarly found it useful where you said about the need to follow up – really important i think.

    I like to send
    Prospecting Greeting Cards i think this works well

    Comment by Kevin Ireson | January 6, 2010 | Reply

  12. […] his recent guest post over on the ZoomInfo blog, Brian Carroll lists a number of phone prospecting rules that map […]

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  15. […] the link to “7 prospecting rules that produce leads.” I look forward to reading your […]

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  17. Thank you to all who ahve contributed feedback. Can I ask what other elements of cold calling that you would like to see covered on Follow the Lead?

    Comment by mpschwartz | February 23, 2010 | Reply

  18. Would be happy to work with you guys on Pay Per Deal advertising model. Ping me if interested.
    bizdev, Alex

    Comment by Alex - hire B2B lead generation companies | April 30, 2010 | Reply

  19. I don’t get it, in some other companies and articles, scripts are important, why losing yours is helping? I’m confused with this one, I think scripts can help and can minimize the call time. Well you or someone can explain to me their reasons. Thank you for the post though, I can fully understand the other six.

    Comment by Mari Vic | July 19, 2010 | Reply

  20. Hi Mari: Thanks so much for commenting. Do you think there is an alternative to not working with a script a la knowing what to say but not having a script in front of you? Eager to hear back from you. Chrs, Matthew

    Comment by mpschwartz | July 19, 2010 | Reply

  21. B2B marketing consulting expert B2BLeadsNetwork: Get more sales leads with qualified lead generation that works. Consultant, speaker, and training services.

    Comment by Thomas | August 17, 2010 | Reply

  22. […] various actions are subsets of the ‘Seven prospecting rules that produce leads,’ a guest blog that was written by b-to-b sales specialist Brian Carroll, who is CEO of InTouch and author of […]

    Pingback by How to fire up cold calls | ZoomInfo Blog | February 26, 2015 | Reply

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    Pingback by Taking orders not on the sales menu this year | ZoomInfo Blog | February 26, 2015 | Reply

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