Guest Blog by Robert Minskoff
For many years I spent my sales career on the outside. Walking through doors, meeting with customers and prospective customers and doing all the things that come with that type of position. Over the last couple of years I have transitioned almost completely into an inside salesman.
The goal of the position is still the same. Acquire new clients and customers and keep existing clients and customers happy and satisfied. While on the outside, one would walk into a business find out some information and pre-qualify them based on the information one did or did not gather. Leave a card or some other type of sales material behind. Unfortunately, the expensive POS literature probably ended up in file 13. Then follow up accordingly. Before I get inundated with emails about how much of a waste of time this sort of activity is, let me say that some of my largest customers and most profitable customers were all gained in this very fashion. Now, if one is selling large complicated software, probably not the best strategy. If one is selling, payroll, insurance, office supplies, transportation, or any other lower ticket product or service that most businesses require, it can be highly effective.
Now my sales activities are made up almost entirely of phone calls and emails. Once again, before the tidal wave of comments on whether this is the best way of going about getting new business, some of my best and most profitable clients have been strictly via the phone and email. In fact, I have some clients I have never even met in person. Personally, I do like to meet clients and potential clients in person at least once. Sales is a very personal interaction and asking people or companies to part with money in exchange for a product or service usually requires a personal interaction and connection.
You maybe asking yourself about now, what is the big difference and why is this worth mentioning? Well, there is none. Sales is a process driven activity. Find, locate, engage, question, re-engage, persist, answer, negotiate, and ask for the business. If all goes well, the answer will be yes. The biggest advantage to selling on the outside is that one can quickly gather information and make a personal connection to the prospect. The biggest advantage to selling on the inside is one can make more calls and send out more emails in one day then one can do in person. In other words one can be more productive.
The biggest challenge I faced in transitioning to an inside role was not having the freedom of going where the day would take me. On the inside I often felt like I was chained to my computer and phone. When I wake up in the morning and it is cold and rainy out, I am very glad to be an inside salesman. In order to break the monotony of calling and emailing, I try to schedule at least one day a week for client and customer visits, networking events, and prospect meetings.
Maybe if your team is struggling, bring them in for a day. Let them hit the phones and email for the day. Or if they are inside sales people, let them go on some appointments if their clients and prospects are convenient. The process will not change, but the change in routine will do wonders for their attitude.
Good luck and good selling.