By Linda Kester
BLITZ THE TERRITORY
It’s a Tuesday morning in June 1987. I’m two weeks into my job selling Canon photocopiers for Dupli-Fax. One hundred and forty-four of the company’s sales reps from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware have convened in a parking lot of a recently defunct Bradlees department store in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
It’s a party atmosphere. Someone starts tossing around a beach ball. Enthusiastic office equipment salespeople clad in business attire, stand joking, laughing and eagerly gearing up for a sales blitz. Blitz day means that the entire sales force encompasses a specific geographic area with the intent to generate leads and sell equipment. Dave Connolly, the manager of the Willow Grove branch, stands with a bullhorn in his hand, shouting instructions.
“Pair up with someone you have never worked with before. Go into every building, enter every office, if there’s a no soliciting sign, IGNORE IT.” He tells us to lift up every rock, knock on every door and then using his signature line he shouts, “Yeah baby, close some deals!”
I was in an unfamiliar town, walking into non-receptive offices, expected to close deals, without knowing anything about the customer. Working with a gruff copier rep from Delaware, we begin the blitz at the top of an eight-story office building in Jenkintown PA. On the eighth floor we were hollered at. On the seventh we were told that we were trespassing. On the sixth floor the security guy caught-up with us and we were escorted out.
Ice can’t get colder than that. The experience was demoralizing, yet educational. I knew there had to be a better way.
Cold calling with out doing any prior investigative work is dead. However, proactive, credible prospecting is alive and well and a vital component in attaining new business. Differentiating between these two types of sales activity will result in volume transformation.
The beauty of credible proactive prospecting is that with pre-call planning you uncover their needs before approaching the decision maker. After doing your research (on LinkedIn you can see lists of employees) pick an appropriate contact call them and ask. “Can you help me?” Most people are happy to help, if you give them a reason. “So that I’m better prepared when I talk to your CFO, can you help answer a couple questions? “ or “I’m going to be talking to your _______ and I want to be sure I have the right information.
Next, obtain the answers to qualifying questions like:
• What does your company specialize in?
• How are decisions about ________ made?
• What is the length of your sales cycle?
• How many sales people do you have?
• What manufactures do you represent?
• Any upcoming plans to move or open another office?
• Who do you use for ______________
Just before ending the call, ask them one more question regarding something they’ve shared with you. For example; “You said you are using Resource Capital, do you like them? Do you ever use anyone else?” Doing this demonstrates you value their opinion and may compel this connection to share more valuable information.
Meeting with the decision maker after you have uncovered this information shows that you did your homework and you highly regard their business. You position yourself as an expert advisor not an annoying interruption.
Some sales reps want to do everything except prospect. Entitling this article Cold Calling Is Dead was risky because reps experiencing call reluctance will read the headline and think, “Woo-hoo!”
The Sales 2.0 movement is trying to convince us that email campaigns, LinkedIn, Twitter, web site analytics and blog posts alone will make a customer run to your front door with cash in hand. This is hogwash. Those tools work in conjunction with consistent, credible outbound sales calls.
Selling has changed in the fact that the buyer has power. He has the power to research the services you provide before your ever call him. Acknowledge this power shift, let him know that you know he does not need an information provider. He needs a problem solver and you understand what his problems are.
Social Selling will not produce enough activity to meet your volume goals. You still have to pick up the phone to generate and solidify new relationships.
With all that in mind, there are still lots of proficient reps who avoid picking up the phone. They have call reluctance.
Here are some of the common reasons for call reluctance and action steps to extricate it:
Stuck in Procrastination
Tell yourself: “You know you’re just putting this off. Take the time right now and prospect for 30 minutes without interruption.”
Your knowledge doesn’t turn into power unless it’s put in action.
It’s not about what you know; it’s about what you do.
Wrong Target Prospects
Do your existing leads provide a high probability of generating volume? Have a strategy session and ensure that your targets are focused on industries with growth opportunities.
Are you clearly articulating the benefits of your company? Write down the value and resources you provide.
Think: “I choose to do this. I am a person of action.”
Envision how good you will feel when you achieve your goal. Say to yourself, “Opportunities are everywhere. Finding new clients is deeply satisfying. I enjoy building long term relationships with my customers.”
Block time to prospect every day.
Success comes from a systematic approach and a constant swarming offence that includes telephone calls, meetings, emails, and social media.
Being busy doesn’t mean that you are being productive.
Sales activities drive sales objectives, which in turn drive business results. Remember, you are not cold calling. You are perusing the right people with opportunities to help them grow their businesses and preserve their lines of credit.
Once you complete your pre-call planning and place an investigative phone call, you are ready to set your objectives for the next call. The objectives can include:
• Obtaining a company profile.
• Finding out what differentiates them from their competition.
• What are their company goals for 2017?
• What is the biggest challenge facing them in 2017?
The next steps include crafting an interest generating opening statement and engaging the decision maker in dialogue. This flow will advance the sales call to the next level.
It’s very likely that you’ll end up in the decision maker’s voice mail the first time you call. Use the information that you uncovered during your research to formulate a unique voice mail message. The prospect will be more likely to return your call because you don’t sound like every other sales person calling them; you demonstrate that you are a professional. If they don’t return your call, you are still building good will and the next time your name pops up on their caller ID, they may be more likely to answer.
You have more power at your fingertips than there was on the Apollo spacecraft that landed on the moon. The opportunities to succeed and grow are enormous, and using these techniques you never have to worry about being kicked out of an office building.
See Linda Kester at the 2017 Annual Conference! Sales Training Seminar Thursday, April 7th - 1 PM