OREANDA-NEWS. August 19, 2016. Myths which are believed in, wrote George Orwell, tend to become true.

And when that myth is based on a statistic that discourages companies from directly engaging and conversing with prospective customers early in the sales cycle, it hurts sales and, ultimately, business.

The myth Im referring to is the supposed trend toward delaying communication with sales reps until late in the buying cycle.

If this myth has your salespeople sitting on the sidelines and waiting for prospects to make the first move, its time to rethink your sales strategy. You need to strike earlywhen you can have the greatest influence on the sales outcome.

Ignore the Myth and Focus on Customer Needs

Depending on the study you read, todays B2B customers are likely to complete 57 (CEB) percent of their decision-making before interacting with a sales rep.

Even if its true that buyers are reaching out to salespeople later, this may not be entirely by design. It may be out of necessity because:

  • Sales reps are too product focused and are not engaging prospects in a two-way conversation that helps buyers make an educated purchasing decision.

  • Vendors have bought into the belief that outbound marketing lacks value because it is intrusive and interruptive. They are, therefore, hesitant to reach out to prospects and rely instead on content marketing to attract them.

If youve bought into this passive sales strategy, you could be missing opportunities to help prospects make good buying decisions and thereby increasing your chances of making the sale. Contacting a company proactively enables your sales reps to:

  • Help buyers focus on real problems and formulate successful strategies.

  • Answer prospects questions when theyre struggling to determine the best way to solve their business issues.

  • Reach out to several of the decision makers involved in a complex buying decision.

  • Build a relationship with a company and be seen as a trusted advisor.

To get a jump on the sales cycle, here are three strategies you can adopt.

Gain the First-Mover Advantage in B2B Sales

Given that InsideSales.com reports studies show that anywhere from 35% to 50% of sales go to the vendor who is first at bat, a proactive, first-mover strategy is a true competitive advantage.

The first-mover advantage is more than being quick to respond to an inbound lead. Its about returning to a proactive sales strategy that enables you to get ahead of the buyers journey. You can take the lead by identifying and reaching out to the companies most likely to benefit from the products, services and solutions you offer. In this way, you turn the sales funnel on its head.

On the surface, this may sound like a hit-or-miss approach that will require you to make more calls than your competition to get one conversation. You can short-circuit the process, however, by analyzing your marketing metrics to determine the firmographics of the accounts that convert best. Use your insights to identify similar companies that likely face comparable issues.

In other words, create an ideal company profile, then segment your database and target the organizations and individuals you are most capable of serving.

Reach Out and Consult With Your Ideal Prospect

Technology gives us many ways to reach out to prospects, but dollar for dollar professional B2B telemarketing provides many advantages.

Some vendors try to get in front of prospects by inviting them to attend an executive event. While events are one way to meet and answer specific questions, they require a high level of investment, careful planning to optimize ROI and are time-consuming. Plus, you cannot guarantee the individual you want to talk with will be there.

There are also downsides to telemarketing. If you structure a campaign by scheduling routine, product-oriented calls to pitch your companys agenda, it negates your first-mover advantage. You need a professional B2B telemarketing strategy that focuses on what you can do to help prospects solve real problems. Such a strategy includes the following:

  • Research

Know how your companys solutions have helped other businesses and how you compare with the competition.

  • Engage

Reach out to target companies with the intention of helping them improve their businesses.

  • Communicate

Start a two-way dialogue with prospects listen to their issues and propose specific solutions.

  • Consult

When you take a consultative approach, you are building a long-term relationship that can earn you trusted advisor status.

Dont Give Up After One Call

If at first you dont succeedtry, try again. Even if youre the first to call, you may not get through on your first try. Or even the second or third call.

It may take several calls before you get into a serious sales conversation. But when youre building a lasting relationship, you have an opportunity to influence the discussion, bring attention to potential problems, help shape how the prospect writes an RFP and elevate your trust quotient.

Zig While Others Zag

Let your competitor wait until prospects are more than 50% of the way through the buying cycle. Meanwhile, get off the sidelines and be the first player on the field. And dont just play the game. Shape it. Help your prospects solve their problems, gradually introducing your product or solution and showing them why it is a good fit. To do this, youll need to conduct an in-depth analysis of your best clientele and create a profile, so you can target the right individuals. Then, segment your database and reach out to them by phone. You likely wont reach them the first time, but you will contact some individuals if you try, try and try again. Its the first challenging step in what will hopefully blossom into a long-term productive relationship. Remember, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. Theyre not, and thats your opportunity.

Sabrina Ferraioli is Co-Founder and VP of Global Sales for 3D2B, a global business-to-business telemarketing company that bridges the divide between marketing and sales. She builds and manages 3D2Bs multi-national sales organization and is passionate about building strong business relationships through professional phone conversations.