The Good, the Bad and the Ugly about Face-to-Face Sales Calls

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by Catherine Brown, Initial Call, President

Most people will agree that meeting someone face-to-face has HUGE advantages. You can actually see if you are making a connection with someone and interpret voice inflection that simply doesn’t exist in an email. And if you are a good at reading body language, then you can catch a lot of nonverbal communication.

That's the GOOD part about meeting face-to-face.

However, the BAD part about in-person sales calls is that is takes a lot of time. If you are a B2B sales person and you're supposed to be doing regular lead generation each week, let's say anywhere between a few hours per week and maybe 20 hours per week of reaching out to people, you may not have time to spare for meeting face-to-face. Sure, meetings via video- Skype, Facetime, etc. are also options, but in- person is quite time consuming because you have to allow time for pleasantries and travel back and forth - not to mention prep time and expense!

Let's talk about the UGLY side of face-to-face sales calls. I have seen a correlation between people who insist that popping in on a prospect and initiating contact face-to-face with overall productivity. Why? Because face-to-face meetings just take more time. I worked with a company once whose sales executive told his people NOT to be at their desk, that they should be out knocking on people's doors about their products and services. Y'all this was B2B. This wasn't something that really should be sold door to door. And consider how many real, QUALIFIED face-to-face meetings a person can do in a day. Not very many! This means people work slowly, thereby affecting their overall productivity.  

Does face-to-face have advantages? Yes, for sure, but these appointments are best reserved for more qualified opportunities. Use email, text, and phone liberally instead of giving someone a whole morning for something that can be decided in 20 minutes on the phone.

Preparation is Key to Tradeshow Success

We’re doing a little tradeshow work and thought revisiting this blog from our archives (written by Rita Ortloff, our former Marketing Manager) would be appropriate. We’ve updated it with a few new links-

I am well aware of the painful bite that a tradeshow can take out of a marketing budget. But I also know that, as much as I love a business world that has evolved to include web-based meetings and telecommuting, there is something to be said for meeting face-to-face with others in your industry. Nothing can take the place of it. Tradeshows matter.

Still, the dollars required to travel to (and attend) a conference can be staggering… which is why it helps to prepare in meaningful ways so that a show provides a real and measurable return on investment. Otherwise, you return from a whirlwind week of handshaking with nothing to show for it but a handful of business cards and jet lag.

Step #1: Prepare

At Initial Call, we recommend you start with pre-show preparation. Most forget this simple step. Make a list of your goals for the show. Are you there to gain clients? Meet suppliers? Spy on your competition? Although tradeshows are great places for chance meetings, we suggest you make calls prior to the show to set up meetings during the event. Even if it’s just a quick stop by the booth to say hello, having pre-scheduled appointments makes your tradeshow efforts intentional. Too busy just trying to get yourself to the show to worry about calling? Hire an outside firm to handle this for you. Initial Call does this sort of work all the time with great success.

Step #2: Work the show

This part is what we think of when we think of tradeshows: standing in your booth shaking hands with everyone and feeling like a desperate politician. But this part matters. Have accessible handouts that are simple to read with clear ways to reach you after the show. Some shows work better if you have a gimmick. A prize or fun chachkies to hand out are always good. But here’s the real kicker: have a system for following up with any potential leads. Whether it’s separating those promising business cards from the rest, or marking them in some way, make sure you have a method for finding those leads after the show! Otherwise what’s the point? In addition to manning your own booth, get out there and walk the floor and meet others. The same rules apply: have a system for logging and following up with any leads you may encounter.

And finally, Step #3: Follow-up.

After days out of the office at a tradeshow, it’s easy to let that envelope full of potential leads grow cold while you’re dealing with everything you missed while you were gone. However, this is a huge cause for missed opportunities. Make a commitment to reach out to those leads immediately when you return. If your business is such that you simply cannot spend the time following up, we recommend you hire an outside firm to do this work. Simply adding the names to your database and following up with a phone call dramatically increases the likelihood that your tradeshow investment will pay off. And isn’t that what tradeshows really are, an investment?  Make sure the next show you attend is a success!

5 Reasons Why Prospects Don't Call Back

by Juliana Dixon, Social Media & Marketing

If you haven’t noticed, we’ve had a facelift! We think our new website is easier to use and cleaner. One new feature is links to our social media platforms at the bottom of each page. In fact, we’ve added a new button for Vimeo.

We’ve had our Vimeo channel for a while, but it has was largely unused until recently. We have added videos with helpful tips salespeople can start using today. The most recent one was added just last week. It is entitled 5 Reasons Why Prospects Don’t Call Back. While it’s not uncommon to have a prospect fail to return a call, email, or text, it can be discouraging. Salespeople often internalize the event and begin to take it as a personal rejection which leads to the decision to not try to reach that prospect again. That misstep leads to lost income. In this short video (just over 4 minutes) Catherine reminds us of the five most common reasons this happens so we can change that internal dialogue and try again!

Go check out the video and happy prospecting!

19 Awesome Reward Ideas

by Juliana Dixon, Social Media & Marketing

When you’ve set a sales goal and met it, you feel like celebrating! Don’t hold back! Whether it is a big goal like closing a sale or a small goal like reaching out to your prospect for the nth time, there is something on this list you’ll want to do:

Quick and Immediate:

  • Put a gold star on the calendar (or a sticker on a chart)
  • Grab a snack
  • Take a few minutes to step outside and just breathe
  • Share your joy on social media: post that you met your goal
  • Call a friend
  • Write a thank you note to someone who helped you get where you are
  • Take break and enjoy some personal social media time on your favorite platform
  • Spend a few minutes reading on your favorite non-work related blog

 Longer and Less Immediate:

  • Plan and implement a home spa treatment
  • Hit the gym
  • Start a new book or spend time with one you never seem to have time to read
  • Brew a fresh pot of coffee or a mug of hot tea
  • Make yourself an award ribbon and wear it
  • Go for a walk
  • Enjoy a break with music: listen or pick up your favorite instrument
  • Give yourself some time to doodle or color in one of those fun coloring books for adults
  • Take a nap
  • Cook a dessert from scratch
  • Watch a movie

If meeting a goal seems impossible right now, hang in there, don’t stress out, and don’t give up! Knowing you earn a reward at the end may help you push past your obstacle. What is your favorite way to reward yourself for meeting a goal? Let us know! We’d love to grow this list.

Two Kinds of Busyness to Avoid

Two Kinds of Busyness to Avoid

Summer is here for most of us and schedules can get full rather quickly. Kids have camps, summer jobs, and activities that require you to take them across town. Yard work has to get done. Volunteering obligations are ongoing. Pool parties, vacation planning, and summer blockbusters demand attention. And all of this piles up in addition to your 8 hour work day. Yeah, somewhere in there you still have to eat and sleep. 

5 Steps to Smarter Sales Prospecting

by Juliana Dixon, Social Media & Marketing

If you’ve been reading our ExtraBold sales material you’re probably convinced you need to prospect more with less wasted time on activities that don’t generate revenue. However, if diligent prospecting has not been your routine, you might be wondering how to get started and even feel slightly overwhelmed. It really doesn’t take that much prep to get a solid foundation that will make you ready to pick up the phone or send an email. Here is what we recommend:

  1. Have a List of Names to Call. This list will require a little effort and thought so you want to create it before you start to call so the research process doesn’t slow you down. Grab a mug of coffee and your laptop and really think of 20-50 names and titles of people/companies you want to reach. They could be referrals, industry trade show lists, friends, or even people you’ve found via LinkedIn.

  2. Track Your Outreach with CRM. If you don’t have a CRM set up yet (or even know what that is), you can get started with Excel. You want to keep yourself organized!

  3. Have a Template for Your Communications. Having a template for emails, voicemails, and phone calls doesn’t make you a robot, it makes you comfortable and prepared. 

  4. Write out Your FAQs. What are those particular questions that you often hear from potential customers/clients? Writing down (or at the very least thinking through) 5-15 questions will help make you prepared for conversations.

  5. Have your Sales Collateral Ready. When you email, include something that shows your expertise or clarifies your service. It could be a link to a short video or an article you’ve written.

Even if you’re someone who tends to over prepare this is enough to get started. Remember, the goal of your first contact is just to set an appointment for further conversation. You don’t have to be ready to give all the information up front, answer every objection, or close the sale with this first communication. Just set a meeting! For more great tips and encouragement, join our ExtraBold sales Facebook group.

How the Future Can Inspire the Present

by Juliana Dixon, Social Media & Marketing

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“When people think about traveling to the past, they worry about accidentally changing the present, but no one in the present really thinks they can radically change the future.” 

I saw this unattributed comment in my internet travels and was moved by it. Yes, I love time travel movies like FAQ About Time Travel, 12 Monkeys and, of course, Back to the Future but I couldn’t help but think of this quote in terms of sales. So many times we get into a mindset rut of routine and we think it will always be this way- “I’ll never be able to get this product off the ground.” “No one wants to hear from me.” “In 5 years time, I’d like to be doing something different but I probably won’t.”

This kind of thinking holds us back from really changing our future by acting in the present. How different would your future be if you stopped worrying about if you looked the part of a confident salesperson and just acted in confidence? What if you were less concerned with it being the right time to initiate with your customer and more concerned with the fact that your offering is exactly what they need? Would changes in thinking lead to change in behavior? Would you pick up the phone more often? Would you ask for referrals? Would your business grow? Yes. And it would radically change your future.

 

If you haven’t yet, join our ExtraBold Sales Facebook group and follow along with other people who are committed to shaping their future in sales. There’s no time like the present.

Obstacles to Self-Promotion Discovered in the Ladies' Bathroom

by Juliana Dixon, Social Media & Marketing

Last month, I had a moment in the ladies’ bathroom where my negative mindset kept me from promoting my business and making a sale. I have an Etsy shop where I sell crocheted jewelry and accessories. It’s not a big money maker, probably for reasons that will become obvious, but I started it to try and fund more crocheting! I was in the line for the ladies’ room with my daughter at a local Mexican restaurant, wearing a one of my crocheted pieces. A woman I didn’t know started asking me about my necklace. I finally told her I was the one who made it just as I reached the bathroom stall and closed the door. She was still in the the line and kept going on about how much she liked it even with the door closed between us! I never mentioned to her that I sell the very same necklace in my Etsy shop or that I even have an Etsy shop. As I replay the incident in my mind, it’s almost like a slow motion car accident. I knew I was avoiding promoting myself but I couldn’t stop! Because I’ve attended an ExtraBold workshop, I know better! What went wrong here? I have a few ideas-

I was unprepared. In my mind I told myself, “Don’t mention the shop. You don’t have a business card to give her and nothing to write the name down. If you tell her, she’ll just forget the name.” I know I have the tendency to avoid self-promotion. Being more prepared would have helped me move that obstacle. In reality, it made for awkward conversation because the conversation was naturally going toward self-promotion and I dropped the ball! If I’m not going to carry business cards, I should be ready to talk about my business anywhere. Even in the ladies’ room. I shouldn’t have listened to the voice in my head.

I assumed too much about the lady in line. In retrospect, I underestimated her interest and her ability to remember the shop name. The truth is, I didn’t know this lady! She may have had an impeccable memory. She may have even had a pen and a scrap of paper when I didn’t. Any person who continues to talk about your product with you, especially after you’ve closed yourself a bathroom stall, is interested in your product. Instead of realizing that, I chalked the whole conversation up to her just being polite just to avoid my having to self-promote.

I set a poor example for my daughter standing there with me. My daughter is an artist. At 15, she already has trouble accepting compliments for and talking about her work, like many people do. I should have stopped the excuses in my mind and just spoken up, if not for me, then for her. And I had thought that in my head at the time but I ignored that wise voice and instead kept my mouth closed. We did have a good conversation about it afterwards but it would have had more impact in the moment had I spoken up for myself.

The root issue here is my mindset. Devaluing what I do, I chose to listen to a voice of fear and negativity rather than one of wisdom and truth. Thanks to my attending an ExtraBold workshop, I recognize these things and I’m working on hushing that negative voice. If you see yourself in this story, I hope you’re encouraged to do the same so none of us have to miss out on a sale again!

One More Way to Rock Your Job in Sales

by Juliana Dixon, Social Media & Marketing

Sweaty palms? Dry mouth? Racing heartbeat? All are potential symptoms of Promotion Obstacles which are so common among salespeople. Promotion Obstacles are ways of thinking, or behaviors, which keep us from telling other people about our company like we should. As you may have heard, we’re now offering training to overcome those obstacles with our ExtraBold Sales workshops. Catherine has been leading these for over a year now. A few months ago, she invited former attendees to join her on Facebook for more accountability and real world tips but now she wants to invite everyone regardless of workshop attendance! Here are a few of her more popular posts-

  • "When feeling fearful or nervous, we start deciding that no response from potential customers means something other than ‘they are busy.’ Don't start deciding for your prospects by giving up your outreach too early!”
     
  • "Trying to ignore negative thoughts doesn't work. Own it and move forward.”
     
  • “I could create an advanced degree today in things to do that take up your day but are non-Revenue Generating Activities! Resist the pull, people!”
     
  • “Good morning, ExtraBold promoters! If you are like me, you are juggling wrapping up the sales work that can realistically be finished before the holidays really kick in and finishing getting your own household ready for this coming weekend. I'd encourage you to take a few minutes each day, maybe 15-20 minutes, and make your notes to set up your "to dos" for getting in touch with people you want to call... Get your data in order and set tasks for yourself so when you sit down to work, you feel organized and ready to jump into those Revenue Generating Activities!”

Want more? Join the conversation and be sure to watch her live videos on topics such as Generosity and Behavioral Self-Handicapping here and start rocking your job in sales.

"Everyone Lives by Selling Something" -Robert Lewis Stevenson

by Juliana Dixon, Social Media & Marketing

This quote may be a surprise if you know anything about Robert Louis Stevenson. As a writer, poet, and composer, what did he know about selling? But stop and think about it- if a writer fails to write a compelling story, no one will pay for it. He must write in a way that is artful and and enthralling or he loses his reader, no one recommends the book, and he is penniless. The sale of the book begins when she puts pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) and before marketing and editors step in. A technician must sell confidence in their ability and workmanship or they are unlikely to be hired or get a referral. A non-profit will not raise money if they cannot, with confidence and clarity, convince others of the need and importance of the organization and the trustworthiness of themselves. One does not need a title to be in sales but everyone should be mindful of the sales necessary for any role in which they find themselves.

In the movie Say Anything, recent high school graduate Lloyd Dobler famously says to Jim, the father of his girlfriend, “I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed... or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed... or repair anything sold, bought, or processed.” And we love his honesty and sincerity. But in the next breath Lloyd says: “…what I've been doing lately is kickboxing, which is really a, uh, new sport, but I think it's got a good future. As far as career longevity goes, I don't really know, because, you know, you can't really tell. You’re eight and six as a fighter, you know, but it's no good, you know, you have to be great, but I can't really tell if I'm great until I've had a couple of pro fights. But I haven't been knocked out yet.” Lloyd, in that moment, is actually selling to Jim. He’s selling his passion, the legitimacy of the sport, and his ability to do well in it. Does Lloyd do a good job? That’s debatable. He certainly would have made a more compelling case for kickboxing had he not been so sales adverse. Robert Louis Stevenson doesn’t say everyone sells well, just that we all sell and we depend on it. When we’re more conscious of that fact, we're going to do better in our jobs.

Are you a manager, small business owner, consultant, lawyer, doctor, engineer, or even a job seeker? What do you sell in your job? Identify what you are selling and allow sales to become a more natural part of your mindset and practice. You’ll likely find you do better at your job.