A few weeks ago, a column by Cory Treffiletti ("A Little Advice on Presenting and Selling") served those of us in sales an insightful reminder of the preparation required to conduct a positive sales call experience. Cory's column was also a bit disturbing as he gleefully detailed how he kicked a salesperson out of his office for failing to prepare properly.
It's so easy to kick the salesperson. We have a dog's-eye perspective that leaves us vulnerable. Our managers kick us around inside our building to ensure we spend more time outside of it -- only to get kicked around by the people we're paid to call on. No wonder we purr like puppies for those who buy from us.
I am not passing around the pity jar. And the point Cory's column made was dead-on --the more prepared we are, the less likely we'll get kicked. The biggest challenge for salespeople today, however, is not a lack of preparation for our sales calls -- but rather, getting the meeting to prepare for in the first place. The volume of those calling on agencies and clients has significantly outpaced the number of clients and agencies to call on. The line to get in the door is long and not linear. So what can you do to break through the velvet ropes?
Keep a vigilant count of your own impressions.
Treat the accounts you call on as consumers and track how many ad impressions you generate against your target audience. Now dedicate your work days to increasing the value and volume of your impressions. Then monitor your frequency and, most importantly, make use of multiple platforms to deliver a consistent and engaging message.
The platform you are likely over-delivering on impressions and under-delivering on engagement is email. We need to wean ourselves off email, especially when you are trying to secure a buyer's attention for the first time. In these cases, unless your email says you will be calling at a specific day and time to discuss and determine the relevance of meeting with you, your email is a wasted impression against that target audience.
The platform we tend to avoid is the phone (in lieu of email). Calling a buyer is more nerve-racking in some ways than a face-to-face sales call. When picking up the phone, you must do so with a specific goal in mind: closing the first in a series of meaningful meetings. We often make the mistake of calling without this goal in mind, or worse, we act as if this first meeting we seek will be our only one -- and buyers hear and react poorly to that stress. Remember, it's not their job to help you meet your sales call quota. Before you dial, make sure you have a plan in place to achieve this goal, and make sure you have an exit strategy when you land in voice mail.
The third platform we have at our disposal and many have forgotten exists is "mail mail." A letter these days screams of extra effort and desire. So few are sent it's easy to stand out. I think printing out a relevant article from your Web site attached to a well-written letter adds more value than an email with a link. I am also sure this is not an either-or decision. You should be emailing buyers when it makes sense to do so, but mailing letters in addition drives your impression count up across another platform -- and nothing bad can come of that. It just requires more effort.
The final platform is "street marketing." When a meeting cancels, how many of you hit the street and head over to the agency anyway to drop off a sales sheet or anything relevant that would have been covered had the meeting taken place? If you leave this material at the front desk with a note, it says a lot about your determination to earn that buyer's attention and ultimately their business. If a scheduled lunch cancels, tell your client you would be happy to pick up a meal and drop it off. It may sound demeaning, but the self-worth you gain by leaving your office, if only to spend a few minutes in a lobby of a place you need to live, makes you feel better -- and lets the buyer know that regardless of how often you get kicked, you're coming back for more.