Farquharson/Tedesco on Business Development: Sales: Harder Now or Before?
Sales Challenge #2: Getting Someone on the Phone
According to Wikipedia, voice-mail started becoming popular in the early '80s. Back then, the purpose of voice-mail was to capture missed calls so they could be returned. Period. Believe it or not, voice-mail was created as a courtesy to both caller and recipient (read: sales rep and customer). In fact, it was rare and considered rude not to return a call. Today, it's used to capture all calls so that they can be ignored, deleted and tossed into the abyss. Second, there are far more salespeople making far more phone calls and leaving far more voice-mail messages, making it far more easy for them to be ignored. Answer: Harder now.
Sales Challenge #3: Winning a Bid
THEN—Lowest price wins
NOW—Lowest price wins
Nothing has changed. This was a lousy way to sell back then and it's a lousy way to sell now. Either way, you better have the lowest cost. There will always be the customer who buys strictly on price. The key is to solve problems and earn orders. This is a basic selling philosophy and the fundamentals never change. This one is a tie...although it is important to note that the solutions-based sale was an option back then, but a requirement today.
A quick glance at the scoreboard reveals one "harder then," one "harder now" and one tie. Let's look at a few more sales challenges...
Sales Challenge #4: Loyalty: Building a Relationship
THEN—Customer loyalty was created through excellent service. Clients became friends and often stayed with a sales rep until he or she retired.
NOW—Often, you are as secure as the last job you shipped in.
The importance of building a strong relationship with your customers remains critical. It's how you go about it that's different. The three-martini lunch is long gone and if you are going to take a client to a ballgame, it better be a Little League game because corporate mistrust has rewritten the rulebook, and gifts of any kind more than $25 must be reported. In addition, because of sheer efficiencies and reduced staff, face time with the customer has become Facetime with the customer as technology (read: Social Media) has replaced the drop-by as a way of catching up and maintaining a connection with a client. Answer: Harder now.
Bill Farquharson is a sales trainer for the graphic arts. Email him at Bill@AspireFor.com or call (781) 934-7036. Bill’s two books, The 25 Best Print Sales Tips Ever and Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How? as well as information on his new subscription-based website, The Sales Vault are available at BillFarquharson.com.