Every year about this time I encourage outside salespeople by discussing and reminding them of the dozens of creative selling sources and prospecting methods available to them. These are all designed to help sales folks become armed and dangerous with resources to help remain productive during the lean lead months. Today I want to look into some behind the scenes logistics to help make that happen.
Based on all these resources, the objective of salespeople becomes scheduling full workdays containing various combinations of these assets, while remembering two of my favorite slogans: “Selling is kinda like shaving; if you don’t do a little every day, you’ll soon become a bum,” and an old Chinese proverb, “He who see most…make most.”
The typical person you will be attempting to reach for an appointment is very difficult to catch by phone during the day. Most are at work, and therefore hard to connect with. So although this won’t be welcome news, if your location doesn’t have a scheduler that sets appointments for you, you probably need to plan to conduct some outbound calling sessions in order to catch folks after their workday ends. I know successful salespeople who do this twice weekly; on Monday evenings, to schedule for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; and then again Thursday evening, to schedule for Friday, Saturday (if working) and the following Monday. Two calling sessions like this each week should provide you at least a few “anchor appointments” to build onto, giving you some warm places to go in order to jumpstart your selling days.
As you begin to build a creative sales day around these scheduled anchor appointments, remember that you won’t connect with everybody you call. Many just won’t answer the phone and will, therefore, need to be contacted in person, as a drop-by. Examples of this would be like, returning to a recent install/completion/start-up to discuss some collateral services, or stopping by to attempt to secure referrals and a testimonial from a customer, or even annual contractual checkups/inspections with existing customers.
As an idea, you might consider using technology to help you reduce your windshield time and generate “more revenue per mile,” by creating a Google map from a spreadsheet of customer addresses/names downloaded to your mobile device, or you might choose to secure one of the dozen “map apps” available that will do the same thing (i.e. Waze, InRoute, Scout, etc.). You could create a second map of unsold proposals addresses/names so that you can use it in the field to navigate around and “touch” folks until you are able to bring them on as customers. Both of these mapping examples will help you route yourself to fill scheduling gaps or replace “busted appointments,” which should never be a surprise.
Putting forth this extra scheduling effort can make the difference between you keeping your sales up and becoming a “Starvin Marvin” during the offseason.
Putting all this together, here is a scenario to help you visualize what a creative selling day looks like:
Let’s assume you’re facing a typical fall/winter work day and you only have one “anchor appointment;” let’s say a homeowner you sold that is being installed today. Since you committed to return when the work was scheduled to be done, to ensure the homeowners are satisfied with what you sold and promised to them. In order to build around this “anchor” and salvage the balance of the day, you might want to consider trying the following:
- For starters, while at the home you might want to jump in and provide some help to the service tech. This will accomplish a couple of things; impress the customer by showing cooperation between sales and service, and strengthen your relationship with the service employee, increasing your odds of more and better future service/tech leads.
- When you get confirmation that the customer is satisfied, make an attempt to secure some referrals with introductions, remembering that a referral without an introduction is really just a cold call.
- After leaving the customer’s home, but while still in the neighborhood, canvass/cloverleaf 4-6-8 homes nearby, attempting to set appointments, by either speaking to the owners in person or leaving a door hanger if they aren’t home. (Make notes of the “not home” addresses and call them from a cross directory or reverse phone book website during your next outbound calling session.)
- It’s always a good idea to have a current customer list with you in the field (and better yet mapped onto your device), so you can locate customers near to where you are working and drop by and attempt to set an appointment to discuss collateral services they may need. For those not home, employ the same process mentioned above. Again, canvass/cloverleaf around those customers as recommended earlier.
- Finally, if you maintain a commercial customer list it will be easy and convenient to stop by and place some flyers detailing employee discounts in the break areas or near the time clock. Do this for any commercial customers that are in the footprint of where you are working that day. Make sure to explain to the owner or manager that this is a FREE benefit for his employees, for being a customer. You will eventually get some phone calls as some of these employees develop a need for some of your services at their homes.
From this scenario, it should be easy for you to see how many contacts can be made, by just using some of these creative selling sources, even when your schedule has only one scheduled appointment.
Please understand that none of these activities alone will produce all the revenue you need, but when you combine all of them together you will really be surprised how full your days will be and how many unplanned offseason sales you might make. It’s the most effective way to ensure your message gets out to large numbers of potential customers.
As you work creatively, commit to yourself not to get discouraged when most of the people you try to talk to aren’t interested in what you have to say. Just smile, give them 3 business cards, and then tell them what to do with them (keep one and give two to friends), and don’t ever forget that:
Some Will Some Won’t
So What? Who’s Next?
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Question of the day: What do the Albany CEO Business News, Ellijay Times-Courier, Lee County Ledger, and Albany Herald have in common with each other?
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