Use technology, but don't rely on it
By Nathan Jamail
Grab your BlackBerry and check your appointments. While you're at it, see if any of your clients have posted anything worthwhile on Facebook, tweet your new prospect, check your e-mail for any new appointment requests and then go grab lunch; what a day! More and more sales professionals are relying on technology to drive sales and increase market share. Unfortunately that is the first step to staying mediocre.
Getting sales professionals to find vertical markets and make outbound prospecting calls as well as setting sales appointments with prospective buyers (in person!) is still the best way to increase sales -- period. All of the technology in the world cannot close more deals than getting in front of the decision maker. So, put away those e-mail marketing techniques, fax-ready sales pitches and automatic voice mail calling systems. It is no more difficult today than it was 20 years ago; we just have new excuses.
The gatekeeper now is voice mail with a delete button versus a receptionist and a pink message pad. The great handwritten letter to the decision maker and the trashcan has been replaced with e-mail systems that have auto junk mail programs. The prospective customers have always been too busy or happy with their current product or service to meet. Principles and disciplines of getting new sales are the same today as 20 years ago; the tools and skills needed to get the appointment are new.
Make the call
What do nice letters, great e-mails, logo gifts, catchy tag lines and marketing campaigns all have in common? Every salesperson hopes that it will be the "new thing" that gets their phones to start ringing by prospective customers. But, in short, they are all just a another reason for a salesperson not to make a prospecting call. No matter what marketing idea or event you use to attract prospective customers, the sales professionals still must make the follow-up call. If you are going to use a technology-based tool (e-mail campaigns, voice mail systems, etc.), use it only as a tool for you to follow up with the prospective customer, not as an excuse to wait for customers to call you.
"Social media" is just another tool; it is not a sales plan
Social media is powerful and there are many experts that have shown and believe that social media can help a company become better known or take the "word-of-mouth" to another level. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are some of the great social media forums, but they alone will not increase a company's sales. It is a nice added inexpensive media outlet (and highly encouraged!), but if social media is the primary source for a company to attract new customers or to sell their product and services then they are sure to fail.
Social media should work in conjunction with a marketing and prospecting plan that is based on network marketing, cold calling, vertical marketing and other key prospecting activities. Prospecting is still the most difficult part of any company's sales process, but it is not complicated. Prospecting is 90% discipline and 10% skill set. Sales professionals should take the time to learn how to maximize their social media, but they should not rely on it to make their sales.
If increasing sales was only about coming up with some creative way for prospects to call, then companies would not need professional salespeople and especially the added expense of their high salaries. If you want to increase sales in today's economy, then use the technology of today with the disciplines and principles of yesterday. It has been said a million times and it is still true; increasing sales is simple, but not easy. People are still buying; the question is whom are they going to buy from? Make the call!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group and author of "The Sales Leaders Playbook," is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur and corporate coach. As a former executive director for Sprint, and business owner of several small businesses, Nathan travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. His clients include Radio Shack, Nationwide Insurance, Metro PCS, The News Group, Century 21, Jackson National Insurance Company and ThyssenKrupp Elevators. To book Nathan, visit www.NathanJamail.com or contact 972-377-0030.