You have a large number of Friends on Facebook. And you have many Connections on LinkedIn. Not to mention numerous Followers on Twitter. That’s great. But, right here, right now, how many prospects do you have? Friends, connections and followers are all wonderful to have. We want them. But we need people who will buy our products and services. And we need to reach out to them.
It’s time to push away from Facebook and pick up the phone. It’s time to stop the social activity and call on prospects.
Recently, I was hired by a VP of Sales to deliver a series of workshops and coaching sessions. When I asked what training needs he saw in his people, he explained that his salespeople believed an email was the same as a sales call. Startling, right? Except that it is not an unusual idea these days. In fact, I encounter it frequently. I am sorry to tell you that an email is not the same as a sales call. An email can have many positive attributes. It is instantaneous. It is concise. It can be shared simultaneously with many key players. But, it is not the same as a sales call.
A sales call is personal. It is face-to-face. It is a productive use of your time. It demonstrates to the prospect that you care. It gives them the chance to see how well you listen and comprehend. It is an opportunity for you to see their operation and meet other key players in the organization. It’s a way of differentiating you from your competitors. It’s too good to pass up!
So, here are a few steps to take. First, you don’t have to stop using social media. Far from it. I encourage you to continue using it. But always with the idea of reaching your objectives, not just being social. Next, make a list of five prospects you can call each day for the next five days. A total of 25 prospects, five per day. Be clear in your mind what you will say to them. Now, all you have to do is call them. Make it your first activity each morning. Then you can go back to being social.
Peter – I think this is the first thing you’ve written that I disagree with – not in it’s entirety, but I think you undervalue email and Social Networks. I have conducted thousands of dollars worth of business without ever picking up the phone or shaking a hand. From custom web sites to fan pages, I’ve managed to generate income without that “face to face” contact. I do not value those clients any less then I do the ones I have sat in coffee shops with or had extensive phone conversations with. Your above post is subjective, depending on the industry, product or service you offer.
Melissa – Thanks for taking the time to contribute. I’m thrilled that you have been able to convert electronic communication into an effective sales tool for you and your business. And, I know that you value all of your clients and prospects equally, regardless of how you connected with them. That speaks greatly to your ability to communicate and interact with prospects and get them to commit, whether electronically or face-to-face. It also speaks to the power of electronic communication, if used effectively. Unfortunately, I don’t see that skill or inclination displayed very often in the salespeople I observe. In fact, it’s just the opposite. You are right, electronic communication has tremendous potential, and I welcome it. These methods of selling are not mutually exclusive. It is not an either/or situation. My concern is that most salespeople do view electronic communication as a sales call, not because it works, but because it’s easy. They won’t have to deal directly with a person. I chose the title of this post deliberately and carefully, “Stop Hiding Behind Facebook.” I know you don’t hide from prospects or customers. Far from it, in fact. But, unfortunately, I believe that most salespeople are not like you. They are hiding. By the way, these salespeople will hide in other ways as well. For example, they will only call on safe or easy prospects, or they will only present products or services they are comfortable with and will ignore newer or more complicated products or services, even if they are profitable. Sales is very much about having a “Get out and meet prospects” attitude. If this can be accomplished electronically, saving time, travel, and expenses, so much the better.