First of all, cold calling is pretty much a waste of time. Prospects and customers don’t like to be bothered by a salesperson in the waiting room, and most will not tolerate it much. Even though some sales managers claim that cold calling still works, it doesn’t work very much.
Still, it takes good salespeople to get the job done, it is just that prospecting is now more effective by using different methods. The difference comes into play with the digital makeup of how information is processed in our modern way of doing things.
We are into the age of “Attraction Marketing” where the potential customer comes to the sales person after an array of informative information crosses the desk of the prospect. Or a pre-approach letter or a series of emails “softens” the approach of the salesperson, leading up to a personal meeting at the request of the prospect.
Now instead of a salesperson just walking in and hoping to meet the buyer or person responsible for purchasing, the system is stacked against all of that. The salesperson is going to have to perform a lot more research and preparation in order to get the attention of the key people in the sales process.
The key to successful sales is all about the salesperson having the necessary information in order solve problems of the prospective customer. This means that the more information that the salesperson has going into the sale about the business of the prospect, the better chance there is to come up with solutions.
For example, say that a salesperson sells a type of software that is enterprise in nature, but has the flexibility to be adapted with some tweaks to fit into specific situations that a customer might have.
Today’s marketplace is very complex, and businesses have a huge array of variables with which they must deal. While there does need to be a team effort in the promotion of the product, ultimately it will be the salesperson who will have to “break the ice” and get the sale.
The foreplay will involve some basic knowledge about the nature of the business of the prospect, but also the nature of the problems that the business faces, the opportunity of solving problems and helping the prospective client to beef up the bottom line.
If the salesperson discovers that there are a couple of links in the shipping chain of events that have not worked out just like they need to be, and that a better communication process can be implemented, the newer software could be just the thing that will make the process work.
So these possible solutions can be presented in a general way to the prospective company along with projections of savings along with potential additional revenue that will be derived due to increased shipping efficiency resulting in a quicker turnaround of orders.
Today’s sales processes are dependent upon knowing more about the prospective client going in than has ever before been required. If you can’t help a company or a client solve some problems that they have, they you will not even get to first base in the whole scheme of things.
Depending on the industry, there will be much more of the use of general specifics, in order to even get the first audience with the prospective client. In the case of the software example just cited, a general statement can be made about the use of the software to solve a specific problem that another customer had, because the software is adaptable enough to be tailored to that client’s needs, and then you point out that the same thing can be done for you too.
The successful salesperson has to be on board to the degree that they are viewed as another member of the management team of the prospective company, and he or she has to treat the problem in that way.
Another method that successful salespeople use in B to B situations is to thoroughly research the problem, and ask for a meeting of all of the players who will be involved in making the decision to move forward on a project of this magnitude so that they can be involved in giving input so that all of the appropriate facts are in place.
Then when the salesperson has gathered all of the facts, he or she can go back and show the solution to the problem with the new software. That is not “selling” but it is coming up with a solution, which makes the purchase of the software a foregone conclusion.
Much of the planning and gathering of information can be accomplished by phone, email, and input form all departments involved, but getting the right facts is the key to the whole process.
The art of selling by personality alone has long been obsolete, and the practical ability of showing solutions based on a real problem is now the main event. Of course a good salesperson will know their product inside and out, but that has always been the case. The difference maker comes from getting all of the proper information with which a case can be built. The real problem has to be identified and seen by the salesperson. Not just given lip service by someone, but backed up with numbers and facts.
Then and only then, can a real solution be put into place, and that is what the decision makers want to see, and that is why they will buy from you, the astute salesperson who did his homework. If the person in charge of buying is honest and you are speaking with the right decision makers, then the sale is sealed when you solve the problem and prove that your product is the answer.