Proactive Selling in a Reactive Environment
If you have been in our industry longer than 10 years, you will probably agree that we have seen significant changes in the way we service our clients.
The two most significant changes have been with communications and the "reactive" nature to our sales process today.
We all know how communications have changed with email, services for price quoting, and our supplier's creative website tools to help us market more effectively. We now have more electronic options than ever before to help us communicate with our clients.
My promotional products career started in 1985, and my typical day would go something like this: I would come into my office early each morning and check my answering machine for messages and un-curl the thermal fax pages on my floor and try to make some sense of them. Then I would grab my sample case and briefcase filled with quotes, catalogs and samples... then jump in my car to make sales calls all day long.
When I came in at the end of the day I would "re-load" my sample case and briefcase with the materials I would need for the next day's presentations, and get ready to start the process all over again the next day.
Salespeople today spend more time in the office (reacting); that is, answering requests from clients using the Internet, email, and making phone calls to clients, and less time out of the office doing face-to-face presenting and selling.
This is what I mean by the change to a reactive environment when it used to be very proactive.
I'm not suggesting that this is a bad thing, but it is a change we must acknowledge, and determine the overall impact it has on our business.
I submit that each salesperson should recognize this fact, and decide how to be more proactive to ensure sales growth.
Maybe it is time to get out of the office and see the people!
If these observations hit home with your business, here are three things you can do to proactively get back to the basics of sales growth:
1. Plan and Prospect - Plan your days, and make sure you set specific time aside for new business development and prospecting. Letters, emails and phone calls to existing clients and suspects will insure a steady stream of leads coming into your business.
We get so caught up in the reactive demands of existing clients that we sometimes do not do the most important sales tasks that insure our success... things like being proactive and finding new customers and developing our current clients.
Block out the time, and don't answer e-mails or phone calls for that hour or two and do some development work.
2. Spec Samples - How many spec samples do you do every week? If it is less than five... why? Your top suppliers offer low-cost or no-cost spec samples because they know the samples lead to new orders.
Note: Don't just send a product... tell them how it was used in a successful promotion by another business or how they can use it in their business to increase sales or solve a problem.
Spend scheduled "think time" in your office looking through supplier catalogs while thinking about your clients, and do spec samples... every week!
3. See the People - Set a time (2-3 days per week) when you will be out of the office and in the field seeing new people and creating your own new opportunities.
Note: determine the purpose for each call before you go in. Example: Ask if they are open to new ideas on how to advertise and promote themselves more effectively using Branded Merchandise.
Some of you might be saying "I already do all of this." However, many more of you know exactly what I am talking about.
Our business has become more reactive because the value of our medium is recognized more than ever.
Put these proactive basics in your business plan, and it will help your business soar!
Best of Success!
Dale Limes, MAS, is Senior Vice President of Sales for HALO Branded Solutions. He is an industry veteran of 27 years, a frequent trainer at industry events, and consults with distributors at every level to help increase sales and efficiency.