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Is your sales process too rigid

May 31, 2013

Here at Extravision, candidates for a sales role we were recruiting for have been telling us how their companies control their new business prospecting.  It seems that in some organisations, the emphasis is very much on the process rather than the results. One candidate, for example, told us that every day without fail they had to make 50 calls, send 10 emails, and post 10 letters.  Targets were rigidly enforced even on days when the sales people had been out of the office for a client visit. 
 
Given that the world of sales prospecting has moved on so much in recent years it was surprising to hear of businesses having such a prescribed, rigid approach now there are so many alternatives available.
 
Whilst there’s still a place for the phone in introducing yourself to new customers, it’s becoming just part of a process rather than the primary business development tool.  And at whatever point you do decide to call, a follow-up email looks professional and ensures the prospect has the key information and contact details.  Combining calls with emails is a winning method of keeping prospects warm without pestering them. 

If your issue is finding quality prospects in the first place then take advantage of LinkedIn – spending time on research is likely to prove far more effective than phoning large numbers of people from an unqualified list. 
 
Where you do want to contact people en masse, email marketing is likely to be the best option. It’s quicker and cheaper than phoning; the recipient doesn’t have to be at their desk in order to get the info, and you can track and follow up on opens and click-throughs.  Many companies base their outbound calling days on their email marketing campaigns by contacting all those who responded in some way to the email.  This is a much more productive plan than just calling everyone who has been sent the email.    
 
When it comes to business development, it’s results that matter, not process. If your team members are still tied to the tyranny of call targets, is it time to set them free?  

Posted by Paul Latham
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