What's the most important thing any salesperson can do? From my perspective, it's making personal calls. Sure, doing business by phone is fine now and then. But the ultimate tool of any salesperson is the personal call. Today, however, we're told by consultants and experts that the sales business is changing. After all, this is the age of technology. These experts are telling corporate America that visiting customers and prospects is old-fashioned and inefficient. Of course, I've discovered that most of these "experts" don't have sales backgrounds. But that doesn't stop them. To them, making personal calls is cumbersome and too expensive. Don't listen to that kind of baloney.
Selling is a rough business. There's no easy way to do it. It takes much more than the latest piece of office technology. It takes people with courage and determination. Putting together a winning sales staff is tricky. Individuals who really love to sell and are willing to make the personal sacrifices necessary to succeed in the profession are hard to find. I don't care how impressive the resume looks or how many people interview a candidate, you really don't know how salespeople are going to work out until they are with you for a few months and are out spending time in an assigned territory.
So what's my beef? I think today's salespeople are misplacing their priorities. I hear more about problems with laptop computers than I do about how to get an appointment with a top prospect. I hear all kinds of discussions about "team play" in sales when most incentive programs are designed to reward individual efforts. Salespeople by instinct and training are mavericks and, in many cases, loners. I'm not saying they shouldn't use all the technological tools available to them or cooperate with other members of the organization. They do because they know it will help them do a better job. I'm just worried that maybe they're forgetting some principles of selling.
I think there's too much talk about the "new age" of selling without appreciating the fundamentals. A company can have the best product lines in the world, the most attractive brochures a marketing department can churn out and the most state-of-the-art laptops available; but if the sales force isn't communicating with clients and prospects, nothing is going to happen. It all begins with the personal call. That's what selling is all about. Everything else is incidental.
Salespeople should know their product lines cold. They also need to know their competitors' as well. Salespeople should spend more time out of the office than in, making as many personal calls as they can during a given day. They also should understand that selling isn't a 9-to-5 job. True sales pros work at their jobs seven days a week if that's what it takes. They also must understand that selling is done during the day, and paperwork and correspondence should be done during off hours.
Finally, remember there's nothing wrong with making money. It's the bottom line in the business world. If a company's salespeople are making a lot of money, they're obviously selling a lot of goods and services, and because of their hard work the company is probably making a nice profit as well. It sounds like a successful formula to me. Never be ashamed of that.
Make an appointment,
Charles S. Lauer