I come bearing good news. One of the hardest things for a salesperson to do is make appointments. I’ve talked about this often in this column and made it my mission to try to find a solution to this problem.
While many used to talk about the problem of getting prospects to answer the phone, there were always some good salespeople who did not have an issue and could be counted on to successfully make phone calls. But today, it’s harder than ever. I’ve known salespeople who have become so discouraged that they quit the business or quit being salespeople, and went into another field because this job was too hard.
Now, the situation has only gotten worse. Almost all salespeople—even the good ones who never used to have a problem—are now starting to have a hard time getting prospects on the phone, let alone actually in-person appointments. I’ve read a multitude of books on the subject, watched numerous videos, and studied the experts. I’ve tried a number of methods to “warm up a cold call,” everything from permission marketing newsletters to direct mailing and mass emailing. Although these are somewhat effective, they do not solve the problem as well as they should.
The age of social media has presented another challenge with texting, Instagram, and Twitter that completely defies the world of human contact that some of us grew up in. I am not ashamed to say that this dilemma has stumped and embarrassed me. No matter how much I've tried, I struggled to solve this problem. I still could not find a consistent way to help salespeople make appointments.
Finally, I did what I always do in a hard situation like this; I reached out to my network of trusted friends and advisors to see if they could help. They are all industry experts in their own right and generous to a fault when it comes to helping a friend in need. But nothing happened. They had a lot of great ideas, and I tried some of them. They partially worked, but not like the good old days when prospects were glad to see their salespeople and viewed them as solution providers who could and would help them with their problems and meet their needs.
I, along with the rest of the industry, did not make much headway. But I did have one axiom that I believed in (and still do): Marketing is the key to successful sales. Your customers must have at least an inkling of who you are and what your company does before they will agree to meet with you. I adhere to a statistic I once read: A truly successful sales effort is 70% marketing and 30% sales. I think it is more like 80% marketing and 20% sales. As a friend of mine likes to say, “Sales is like putting a line in the water, hoping to catch one fish at a time. Marketing is getting the fish to jump into the boat.”
If you’ve read this column diligently over the years, you know that I always adhere to this principle. But in the past few years, the traditional marketing we all advocate isn’t working that well anymore, so we go back to the proverbial drawing board.
This week, I found out the good news I mentioned earlier when my friend, Bruce Johnston, sent me a case study—a true account of the success he has found by using LinkedIn to help a client get prospects to answer the phone. Full disclosure: Bruce is an internationally renowned LinkedIn expert. For a living, he helps people become LinkedIn proficient.
In this case study, Bruce described a project he did for a client on the West Coast; Bruce is located in Toronto about 2,500 miles away. With Bruce’s LinkedIn skills, he located and connected with qualified prospects so that in a matter of months, his client had acquired a number of new customers and increased their sales by 13% in 90 days. This case study was so impressive to me that I am now in the process of adapting it for clientele as well. Stay tuned because next time, I am going to go into more details on how Bruce did it and how it can work for you.
It's only common sense.
For a free copy of Bruce’s case study, email me at email@example.com.
Dan Beaulieu is the president of D.B. Management.