Monday, May 2, 2011

Face-to-Face Sales Calls

For salespeople, the correlation between calls made and sales made should be very clear: the more calls you make, the more sales you make. Setting aside time to contact prospects and clients is very important. Consider the words of Woody Allen. He said that “80 percent of success is being there.” As a salesperson, you’re more “there” when you make more calls.

Let’s define a term. A “call” is a face-to-face meeting where you ask a prospect to buy something. It’s not a telephone call to get an appointment or a service call on a current customer, although those activities are certainly important. But when I talk about making more calls in the context of business-to-business sales, I’m talking about asking for orders in person more frequently.

The technological advances of our society are wonderful. You have email, smart phones, instant messaging, video conferencing, and all kinds of other ways to communicate with your prospects. These high-tech wonders can make you more efficient. But they can’t take the place of the face-to-face call. The salesperson who tries to substitute electronic “virtual selling” for personal contact is going to be about as successful as the quarterback who tries to run a play from the bench. The rest of the team may run the play, but it won’t be the same without him there to handle the ball.

There is no substitute for meeting with the client in person. When you’re there face-to-face, you build trust. It’s really hard to believe in what someone’s saying if you can’t look into their eyes while they’re saying it. If you’ve done any telephone sales, you know how hard it is to create a trusting relationship with a prospect who can’t see you.

You also demonstrate your professionalism and transmit your enthusiasm much better in person. “Seeing is believing” is more than just a truism when it’s applied to a sales call. When the prospect can see your animation, can see how prepared you are, can see the masterful way you control your presentation, you gain tremendous credibility. When you’re there face-to-face, you find yourself much more focused on the client, too, which in turn will make your presentation just that much more persuasive.

Personal calls also show the prospect you care. They say you’re so concerned about the success of his or her business that you are willing to invest some of your valuable time in working on it with them. Use all the modern technology you want, but use it to get more face time with more prospects and current customers. That’s where its real value lies.

Dave Donelson distills the experiences of hundreds of entrepreneurs into practical advice for small business owners and managers in the Dynamic Manager's Guides, a series of how-to books about marketing and advertising, sales techniques, hiring, firing, and motivating personnel, financial management, and business strategy.

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