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|The Foodie Quipper:
by Joe Ferri
The old sales routine of the 80's was outbound telemarketing, AKA "tm". We'd get on the phone for 1/2 a day, and call and re-call the stack of leads generated by the trade magazines and from the trade shows.
We had a script, and cards or flip charts with the answers to the most common objections (today we call them FAQ's). Close the prospect to the appointment - if not, to the next follow-up date.
B-to-B, one-off, direct foodservice equipment and supplies sales, while not exactly boiler room, can be exhausting. You couldn't do cold-calling more than four hours a day, as the rejections were unbearable.
Ah, but what an experience it was, like lambs among the wolves. Getting blown-off with the old "send me the information" line was a regular occurrence. In fact, I still haven't found the perfect verbiage for a follow-up letter that could prompt anyone to action.
The sales funnel held suspects at the top, prospects at the bottom, and clients in the spout. Our job was to move them down through the funnel and out.
The lessons we'd learned about human nature, relationship building, and networking transcend any of the technological advances that we've adopted into the sales profession in the intervening decades.
That is to say that tactics may have changed, but strategies have remained constant.
Represent a product that you truly believe in.
Identify potential markets.
Get a commitment.
An enlightened sales and marketing pro will have, by now realized that the relationship established in the above process must be nurtured well beyond the initial transaction.
I am constantly bewildered by the false message that the sales profession is somehow ignoble. If practiced ethically, it is the quintessence of finding out what people want, helping them to get it, and maintaining a social connection in support of the business relationship.
As of late, many may have regressed into hiding behind their electronic security blankets, avoiding risk and confrontation, all the while limiting their potential. Although methodologies may have progressed, human nature remains unchanged.
All successful business ventures require risk - typically the higher the risk the greater chance at rewards. The essence of business revolves around commerce: nothing happens until somebody sells something.
No one can argue against caring for our established clients. After all, there are only three ways to grow a business: sell more stuff, to more customers, more frequently. A balance of customer acquisition and maintenance must be maintained.
Are you a caretaker or a risk taker? Mustn't we all be both?