I come bearing good news. From everything I have heard, one of the hardest things for a salesperson to do these days is make appointments. We have talked about this often in this column, so many times in fact that I have made it my business to try to find a solution to this problem. It used to be that while many sales people,would talk about the problem of getting prospects to answer the phone, there were always some good sales people who did not really have an issue with this and could always be counted on to successfully make those phone calls. But not so much any longer. Now it is harder than ever. In fact, I have known sales people who became so discouraged, that they have quit the business, or at least quit being salespeople and gone into another field because it was just too darn hard.
And now, well, the situation has only gotten worse. Almost all sales people, even the good ones, the ones who never used to have a problem are now having a hard time getting prospects on the phone…never mind actually getting real live, and in person, appointments.
This situation, this challenge, of helping good sales people to get people to answer and or return this phone calls, letting them set up appointments has been so bothersome to me that I have made it my mission to find a way to solve this problem. I don’t mind telling you, that I have read a multitude of books on the subject. I have studied the experts: I have watched numerous videos, and still I have not been able to find a good, and consistent, way to help sales people make appointments.
No, in this age of social media things have worsened: as we have entered the non-phone call, world of texting, and Instagram, and Twitter, and social media that completely defies the world of human contact that some of us grew up in. I am not ashamed to say that this dilemma has stumped me. That it has actually embarrassed me, that no matter how much I tried I could not satisfactorily solve this problem.
I have tried a number of methods to accomplish what I call “warming up a cold call” everything from permission marketing newsletters, to direct mailing, to mass emailing, and although together these can work, somewhat, they do not solve the problem, they do not work as well as I want them to, and not as well as they should.
So, I finally did what I always do in a hard situation like this, I reached out to my network of trusted friends, and advisors to see if they could help. They are all industry experts in their own right and all generous to a fault, when it comes to helping a friend in need. But nothing happened. They had a lot of great ideas, and I tried some of them and things got better but not the better of the good old days when prospects were actually glad to see their sales people, viewing them as solution providers who could and would actually help them with their problems and meet their needs.
And so, there I was along with the rest of the industry not making much headway. I did have one thing, one axiom that I really believed in and still do and that is that marketing is the key to successful sales. Your customers had to have at least an inkling of who your company is and what they do, before they will agree to meet with you. In fact, I adhere to a statistic I once read that a truly successful sales effort is actually seventy percent marketing, and thirty percent sales. Frankly, I think it is worse than that, more like eighty percent marketing and twenty percent sales. As a friend of mine likes to say, “Sales is like putting a line in the water hoping to catch one fish at a time: while marketing is getting the fish to jump into the boat.” If you have read this column diligently over the years you know that I adhere to this principal, always. But in the past few years the kind of marketing I advocate, in fact the traditional marketing we all advocate is, well is not working that well anymore, so it has been back to the proverbial drawing board.
That is until this week, and this is the good news I talked about earlier, when my friend Bruce Johnston sent me a case study. An account of the success he has had by using LinkedIn to help a client of his with the problem of getting prospects to answer the phone. Full disclosure here, Bruce is an internationally renowned, LinkedIn expert. This is what he does for a living; he helps people become proficient at the uses of LinkedIn, and integrating LinkedIn into their sales efforts. In this case study he described a project he had done recently for a client on the west coast while Bruce is located in Toronto about 2500 miles away. By using his LinkedIn skills he was able to not locate qualified prospects in his client’s back yard, he was able to get them connected to his client and the client had acquired a number of new customers and increased their sales by thirteen percent. All of this in ninety days…from his office in Toronto! All by using his LinkedIn skills. This case study was so impressive to me that I am now in the process of adapting it to my clientele as well. Stay tuned, because next time I am going to go into more detail on how Bruce did It and how it can work for you. And as you’ll see for yourself, it’s really only common sense.
For a free copy of Bruce’s case study, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org