Technology is changing the way we do sales and transforming marketing departments quickly. So what does this mean to “old-school” sales professionals who dial their way to millions of dollars? What can we gain from technology and how do we use it to close more deals and capture more opportunity?
Is Cold Calling Dead?
We’re seeing statistics about email marketing, social media publishing and creative digital outreach being used more and more to reach prospects to sell products and services. Does that mean that the good old way of picking up the phone and selling yourself and your product is dead?
Far from it! Over the last 10 years I have managed sales and service in companies worth over 1 Billion Dollars with hundreds of thousand of commercial and residential customers. What I’ve learned is that every company must make every effort to digitize portions of their sales process. Companies must work intelligently with the understanding that the sales process has evolved. However, we must not take away the phone call, a face to face meeting, a business card exchange or a handshake.
People do business with people they like and trust. How many people that you have not spoken to in person do you trust?
So, yes you can close tons of deals virtually. However a phone conversation significantly increases your odds of closing a sale. A personal meeting increases those odds even further. When comparing, email, to phone, to in-person sales, which one are you most likely to give more time to?
- Do you read an email with a sales pitch?
- Do you give the phone solicitor 30 seconds?
- How much time do you give someone that is making the same sales pitch live in person?
It’s much easier to delete an email than it is to hang up the phone on a person. It’s also much easier to hang up the phone than it is to walk away from a conversation. You cannot do away with physical and voice communication in sales.
How Do We Leverage Technology To Close More Sales?
The main opportunities that technology, social media, search engines and networking groups present is essentially warming up a lead and narrowing down your target market. Your website, blog and social media set-up and maintenance are all critical components.
By this time, if your company does not have a website, you are in big trouble. It not only indicates that you’re not current with the times. But also shows that you’re investing in the future of your business.
Multi-million dollar corporations are spending multi-million dollars each year to ensure their websites and content is on point. They do this because it gives them authority and space on the internet to conduct business. I remember a statement from my college marketing studies; there are three critical facets to business success. Those three being, location, location, location. In a retail model, location is everything,you can’t sell a product if you don’t have the demographic that is capable and interested in purchasing. Location is still king, however with globalization and the internet taking over, your physical location is just one aspect. Your web location must now be considered just seriously as your physical store.
For example… I can go online and search for a product that I saw at your store. I will compare prices, reviews and many details to make my decision. Now what if during all of my reviews I never found your particular store? I was likely to purchase from you because of physical proximity, but now I may purchase from someone else because of their virtual proximity. If my research had led me back to your location, it would be a done deal. So your on-line presence is increasingly becoming just as vital as your physical location.
A company blog is an excellent way to form presence in the virtual market place, it not only serves as a continuous method of advertising and telling the world what your business is about, but if done right, it will also boost your site ranking making you much more visible. Small and medium size businesses must make every effort to develop AND maintain an effective blog, otherwise they face a serious risk of being drowned out by larger companies. If you saw the need to purchase or lease physical space to reach your buyers, you must also see the need to purchase a virtual space. Your home page is your storefront, your pages are your sales reps, your blog is the natural conversation and ideas that form around your business. If you want to survive and grow your business, it’s important that you get on board with blogging.
In 2016 we saw a critical change in the capabilities of social media, mainly the capability to purchase directly through social media. This trend is growing as the new generation of shoppers will almost always review products on-line before purchase. They will also be influenced by the brands social media, blog and other digital content channels. The trend is growing and cannot be ignored. We’re not seeing empty malls because people are at home shopping, but more and more sales are now coming from on-line channels.
People want to relate to the brand they buy from. Social media is the middle ground. Your brand is either there and engaged, or your competitors brand will beat you to the chase.
So to round it all up:
Cold calling and direct selling is not dead, but companies that don’t adapt to the virtual market are at risk of extinction.
I hope that this article summarized where we stand with sales in the current market place. We have over 10 years in marketing and managing over 1.8 million customers along with 7 years of professional blogging and social media experience. You can’t afford to fall behind.
Let us know your experience and thoughts on the current sales process and feel free to reach out if you need help expanding your businesses.