How to know when exactly you should contact your prospects

by Steli Efti
timing - film-min.jpg

When we talk about sales strategies, it’s easy to obsess over specifics. How to write the best cold email or sales script. Where to find your prospects. How to ask for the close. But there’s one crucial fundamental that so many salespeople ignore: Timing.

Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got the best product that’s going to save me millions of dollars a year. If you don’t contact me at the right time, I won’t care.

It’s as simple as that.

Timing is the one factor that underlies and supports everything you do. And if you’re not thinking about it at every step of your sales process, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

You need to have a deep understanding of how your customer spends their days

Being purposeful and deliberate about timing is like creating your own luck. You’re 10–100X’ing your chance of being in the right place at the right time and getting the sale.

Timing is the defining factor in whether any of your sales strategies are successful. And to be truly successful, you need to go deep and think about all the timing factors and how they can influence your buyer’s mood, priorities, and willingness to talk.

This means thinking about:

  • Time of the day: How does your buyer start and finish their day? What’s their routine like? When during the day are they most likely to have a few minutes to really think about your pitch and engage with you?
  • Days of the week: What do you know about how your buyer structures their week? When do they have stressful meetings or deadlines? How much can you learn about the flow of their week?
  • Weeks in the month: Does your buyer have projects that are on a month-to-month basis? Are they so slammed the last week of the month that you’re going to piss them off by calling over and over?
  • Months in the quarter: Again, what is the structure of your buyer’s quarter? When are they under the most pressure and thinking more short term? (like when they have a quota to hit)
  • Quarters in the year: Lastly, what is the whole flow of your buyer’s year? When does their fiscal year end? When are they more likely to even have the budget to work with you?

Timing isn’t just about time

It’s not just dates we’re looking at when we talk about timing in sales. There’s also specific events that will influence when is the best time to contact your customers.

There’s company events and announcements, like funding rounds, hiring, or new product releases, which can inform when you reach out and how you tailor your pitch. Are they going on a marketing hiring spree? Maybe it’s a good time to reach out about your marketing automation software.

Or industry events like tradeshows and conferences, which can let you know your buyer might be busy and not open to talking about your service.

Even world or industry news might have a serious impact on your buyer’s business and willingness to buy. Did a big competitor just enter or leave the market? What about regulation or new technology that might threaten their business?

And what about when a customer signs up for a trial of your service? If you contact a lead too late, they’re much less likely to become a customer.

Calling customers within 5 minutes of them signing up can give you a 100X higher reach rate than if you wait an hour or a day. You know they’re at their computer and are interested in your service. So why not use this timing data to your advantage?

There are even timing events that aren’t public. You can use a service like Datanyze to let you know when your prospect is trialing your competitor’s product. This is the perfect time to reach out as you know for sure they’re trying solutions.

Each of these timing factors can determine not only whether or not you get a response. But if your prospect is in the best frame of mind to hear your pitch and ready to progress in your sales funnel. Catch them at the right time and you’re already a step ahead of the competition.

Yes, timing is complex. But there’s a simple solution: Customer intimacy.

The more you know about your customer and can get in their head, the better chance you have of reaching them at the right time.

Founders often ask me: What’s the right time to cold call or email a prospect? The answer is, I don’t know. How could I?

I don’t know your customer. I don’t know their schedule, their routines, or their industry.

The only way to answer this question is to know how your customer spends their days, weeks, months, and years.

For example, I know my type of buyer usually spends the last hour of their workday cleaning up their inbox. At this point of the day, their inbox is less polluted and they’re more open to thinking long term rather than just what needs to get done today.

By knowing how they spend their day, I know that I’ll get a better response by emailing them later in the day.

Now, let me be clear. That’s my buyer.

Yours might be completely different. But if you don’t know their schedule, you can write the perfect pitch or script and you’ll never get those kinds of results.

So take 30 minutes with your sales team and go through all those timing factors we listed above. Grab a whiteboard and map out what your customer is doing hour-by-hour, day-by-day and so on, with all the key dates that impact their business.

The more you know about how they spend their time, the better results you’ll get from your sales efforts.

If you don’t know where to begin, start by following up

I’ve dropped a lot of ideas on you in one post and it might feel overwhelming. But that shouldn’t stop you.

Timing will become much clearer as you gain more customer intimacy. You need to go out there and test, learn, and adapt. And the best way to do that is to use our follow-up strategy.

Following up in the right way dramatically increases your chance of reaching the right person at the right time. Most cold calling campaigns fail fail for this very reason. Plus, it gives you a structured way to test when is the right time to reach out, for your customer.

So, if you looked at this post and said “I have no idea where to start,” that’s ok. Just start by following up and learning as much as you can about how your prospect spends their day. The rest will come together in time.

Timing makes all your other sales strategies more powerful

There’s no “perfect time” to reach out to every customer. But there is a perfect time to reach out to your customer. And the closer you get to understanding when that is, the more powerful all your other sales strategies will become.

Get in the head of your customer. Figure out what their days, weeks, and months look like. Understand when they’re most likely to talk to you. Because when you start at the right time, everything else becomes that much easier.

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