How to Run a Bulletproof Negotiation

Negotiation is one of the most difficult, and in my opinion, poorly understood aspects of the sales process.  If there's at least one thing I've learned about leading sales reps, epecially less experiences ones, they do not know how to negotiate effectively.  Even if they run a flawless sales process, they give up loads of value after having created so much in everything they did prior.  While the customer ultimately gets the better end of this deal, it's not effective for building a business over the long term.  Heavy discounting erodes margin and eliminates a business's ability to invest back into their own people, which in turn, limits the quality of the total customer experience.   

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Inbound Sales from the Front Lines [Part 3 of 5]: How to do Inbound Prospecting Effectively

If you've read the previous two posts on Inbound Selling, you know that we're prepared to actually start picking up the phone, drafting emails, and engaging on social media.  But how?  What should you say?  How many times should you attempt to connect with someone?  

Before we get into the details of exactly what to say, I want to lay out some principles for: 

1. How many times should you call/ email/ connect socially with a prospect?, and 

2. When should you actually be making these attempts to connect with your ideal buyers? 

How Many Times Should I Try to Connect with My Prospect? 

I have heard a wide range of opinions The average rep's performance? According to, between 1.7 and 2.1 attempts before they give up. Here's a snippet from a great article written by, "Sales Tips and Tricks – How Many Contact Attempts?": 


However, even the bare-minimum number of six is rarely enough.'s own internal research with Dr. James Oldroyd, former Research Fellow at MIT, and with data analysis company InfoUSA shows that for sales organizations who rely on lead generation to create sales, 8-12 contact attempts over a 10-14 day period is the optimal strategy to maximize the value of every lead. 


An approach of this sort assumes that the reps are going to be using multiple modes of contact as well--phone, email, voicemail, social.  A sales process that mandates 8-12 contact attempts, and uses multiple modes of contact usually sees a 90% contact rate for all possible leads.


More data from InsightSquared suggests that while the first 3 to 4 rounds of attempts have the highest likelihood of connecting, the connect rate still stays right around 5% for attempts 6 all the way through 11+... in other words, the connect rate never drops to zero.  (See Graph Below).

SOURCEShould You Keep Calling that Prospect?  A New Study Gives the Answer

When Should I Try to Connect with My Prospect? 

There is a fabulous study done by the Lead Response Management Organization, and beautifully summarized by the team at InsigtSquared on this very topic.  This is the full blog post if you want to read it directly: What Is the Best Time for Cold Calls?

In short, here's my call to action for all sales reps -- GET TO YOUR DESK EARLY AND STAY LATE!!  If you want a break, take the middle of the day off, depending on what time zone you're calling into of course.  Here's why: 

First, what's interesting is that InsightSquared, using their own data as a sample set, found that what they held as conventional wisdom -- that prospects are more likely to enage with you early in the day -- is not true.  Instead, they saw their best connect rate between the hours of 10:00am to 4:00pm. 


Second, they dug deeper into which day of the week is the most effective to drive the highest volume of connects.  Short answer?  Tuesday.  


While this is interesting, the study does in fact leave much to the imagination.  For example... 

  • What did InsightSquared define as a connect? 
  • How did they go about making those connect calls? 
  • Did they rely mostly on BDRs and SDRs, or did they rely on AEs? 
  • Did this vary by industry, title type, account type, or time zone? 
  • What was the nature of the content of their connect attempts? 
  • What was the experience level and seniority of the people making these attempts?  Did that matter? 

For me, the bottom line is that more research would need to be done into WHAT TIME and WHICH DAY to call, and that reps shouldn't try to game the system.  There is no replacement for consistently high levels of effective prospecting.  And on the topic of "effective prospecting", let's get into that. 

What Should I Say When I Attempt to Connect with My Prospect? 

Before you jump out of your seat and start dialing, you need to have a plan.  There are two core concepts behind this plan -- (1) Organization, and (2) Execution.  

Organization means that you are literally prepared to start prospecting.  Here's a short checklist: 

  1. Do you have your lead views or contact views set up? 
  2. Do you have your email templates ready? 
  3. Do you know exactly how you want to deliver a voicemail?
  4. Are you actually calling at the right time? 
  5. Do you know exactly what you want to achieve on the connect call if a prospect picks up?

If you don’t have answers to these questions, get them.  Don’t worry -- if you don’t have them, I’ll share some thoughts on how I went about doing this and how the best inside reps go about this.  

As far as creating lead views go, I recommend rating your leads before you call them.  Prioritize by MQL/ SQL/ PQL vs. White Bread Lead first.  Second, prioritize by Time Zone (if you work across multiple times zones).  And third, prioritize by amount of downtime since last interaction, if any.  If your company offers you any lead scoring, you might want to take that into account as well, but remember that a lead scoring model is onyl as good as the person that built it.  If you don’t feel confident that your marketing team has built the lead score the right way, talk with them about it.  Figure out what goes into that score and if you have a different view share it.  Believe me - they should want to help you find the “most likely to close” leads.  

Now the second component -- mostly when to call (which we've covered), how many times to call (which we've also covered), and what to say, are both easy and difficult -- but these three things define execution.    Here's my guidance on WHAT TO SAY when you start reaching out. 

At HubSpot, we followed the BASHO methodology.  Defined by HubSpot, this is a progression of messages (voicemails, emails, and social media messages (think Twitter and LinkedIn)) that is meant to gain a prospect’s attention through repitition and continuous accretion of value.  Until the breakup message.  

The effectiveness of your own BASHO sequence is dependent upon two things: 

1. Are you adding value that the prospect could not otherwise get on his or her own? 

2. Are you conversational and human in your outreach attempts? 

Here are even more specific details on how this works for those of you interested: 

And effective BASHO sequence: 

  • Contains at least 6 steps (rounds of attempts -- one email, voicemail, and social media message = 1 round of attempts) 
  • Is executed every other, or every third business day -- designed to last a total of 10-15 business days
  • Is followed up immediately with an email that is virtually identical to the voicemail left for the contact or lead, and ideally leverages social engagement along the way
  • Leverages the word “you”, often, and
  • Concluded with a “break up” of the communication stream

To bring this to life, here’s the exact BASHO sequence (steps 1 and 6; 2-5 are intentionally left out) I used at HubSpot for two+ years straight as a rep:

Keep in mind that the email and voicemail scripts are almost identical in order to reinforce the message, or increase the chance that the message is understood.  If you can layer in channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter, this will increase your chances of getting a response.


Subject Line: Did you find everything you were looking for help with?

Hi {!Contact.FirstName},

You recently visited our website and expressed interest in some of HubSpot's content.  Did you find everything you were looking for help with? 

Since we haven't had a chance to connect live, is there a good time for you to speak?

I wanted to spend about 10 minutes on the phone learning more about you and your firm to determine whether you might be a good fit for our partner program for marketing agencies.  

What does your schedule look like?




Subject Line: If You Change Your Mind About Becoming a HubSpot Partner

Hi {!Contact.FirstName},  

I've reached out several times to you and have not heard back. You seemed like a good candidate for our partner program for marketing agencies:  

I don't believe I've received a response from you. And I don't think you've started a free trial of our software (  

So, at this point, I'll assume that you don't need our help with anything.  

My contact information is below if anything changes for you.  



Putting It All Together

 If you've actually read this entire blog article, congratulations.  It was a long one.  If you just skipped to the end looking for the summary, I'm calling you out.  You cheated.  Go back and read it!   Regardless of which person you are, here are my thoughts on effective Inbound Prospecting: 

Get organized -- know who you're going to call, when you're going to call, and what you want to say before you ever get started.  It will make you far more efficient in the long run even if you have to spend some time up front to organize yourself. 

Don't give up -- In my experience, prospects will often respond to your very LAST attempt.  However, you have not earned the right to use the last attempt until you have completed the first 5+ attempts, where you have ideally added value.  Remember, you have just as good a chance connecting with someone the 9th and 10th time as you did the 5th and 6th.  

Add value -- When you go about crafting your own BASHO sequence, whether it's for warmed up Inbound Leads or cold calls, you have to add value to a prospect.  They get thousands of emails every year from people like us, very few of which are personalized or relevant.  Think of the BASHO sequence as a two way conversation and always find ways to give more than what you're asking to receive.  This will pay off in the long run. 

If you're interested in learning more about what happens next -- The actual Connect Call -- keep reading.  The next post in this series will be out tomorrow.  

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Brian Signorelli
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