Sales Management Digest

Improve the Timing of Your Sales Calls
Gerhard Gschwandtner
Imagine that you're a sales rep selling office equipment. Wouldn't it be great if one morning you happened to walk into a coffee shop and strike up a conversation with a stranger who
  1. works for a $6 billion company,
  2. has just been put in charge of opening six new offices (all in your territory),
  3. cites finding an office-equipment supplier as his number one headache.
That's what you'd call the ideal sales situation. It happens when buyer and seller meet at the right moment at the intersection of an emerging problem and a ready solution.

If you're like most salespeople, you almost never stumble onto an ideal sales situation (especially not while doing something as nonchalant as taking a midmorning coffee break). You create opportunities by being patient, doing your homework, and persisting in the face of rejection.

These days, it seems buyers are increasingly reluctant to interact with a sales rep unless the rep can discuss solutions to problems the prospect is having at that very moment. Blame it on the real-time nature of status updates and instant messaging, or a fractured world in which our attention is constantly divided and we never fully focus on one thing. Whatever the reason, it can be frustrating for reps to find themselves in the right place with the wrong information (or none at all) or in the wrong place with the right information.

The good news is that innovative technology is steadily increasing the number of ways reps can up their chances of finding and creating ideal selling situations. There are a number of great solutions that can help salespeople improve the timing of their calls, as well as their chances of discussing a relevant topic with their prospects, which may lead to a good sales opportunity.

Innovative technology makes it a lot easier for salespeople to stay on top of news, research, events, and other information that might indicate a ripe opportunity to call on a customer or prospect. Two examples: If you're trying to sell HR services to a $1 billion pharmaceutical company, a sales-trigger alert set up in your CRM can notify you if the company announces a plan to hire. If you're in the telecommunications business, a sales trigger will tell you which company in your database has decided to open a new office.

Next in order of importance is the reason for the call. Salespeople dislike calling prospects without a compelling reason. They know that, in this case, the odds are against them. They know that positive energy comes from positive ideas to share, positive subjects to discuss, and positive opportunities to share with their prospects.

That's why great salespeople make use of research and reports that scout the Web for deep knowledge and serve it up in an easily digestible format. This helps them time their calls better, find better-targeted information, and have more meaningful interactions with prospects.

The power of the Internet has made many salespeople feel powerless, but the truth is that we have more resources than ever to have relevant and timely conversations with prospects. Once you know how to use the right tools, you can take action and start creating your own opportunities to win.
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How about going with me to the sales convention next week, Branson? You can be the horrible example.