The Sales Train

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I was sitting with my team this past week reviewing possible sales leads and the realistic possibility of these leads using Clearwater Events. Since opening the doors of Clearwater Towers, we have employed a variety of sales tools in an attempt to kick start the sales train, from using traditional telesales techniques to harnessing the potential power of social media. So what sales train is the best train to hop on board?It seems that traditional methods of sales and lead generation such as telemarketing often lead to nothing more than a spreadsheet of contacts full of brochure requests. It’s money for old rope these days as a brochure request is absolutely not a sales lead in 2012! Any one who thinks otherwise is possibly still at the station waiting to catch the train. Cold calling or targeted telephone selling may work for some, but in this time of social media and technology reigning supreme, telesales – in my opinion – is lazy sales.

How many times have you been cold called and sold to? Whether or not you’re interested, out of pure politeness you will often ask for a brochure to be sent? Indeed, do potential clients now really welcome the intrusion of a phone call during their busy day to be sold a service or product they may or may not want? And do they read the brochure you have lovingly sent through? Possibly they do, but probably they do not. And this leads me to the big question, does cold calling cheapen a brand in 2012? It’s a hard question to answer.

Direct mailers are possibly effective and low cost compared to employing someone for the thankless task of cold calling a list of names. But, how can you ever guarantee that what your emailing ever reaches the required inbox? Does the mailer become nothing more than more landfill waist with little sales value?

For me, I don’t buy into telesales or direct marketing anymore. A sales strategy is now about using a clever combination of targeted social media strategies, specifically tailored to individual potential clients. It all starts with the team having a realistic approach on what companies could and would use the services your selling, understanding the complexities of client procurement and shareholder requirements. My dear grandma has always used the saying “reach for the stars and you might just catch one”. Great advice indeed, but you do need to be realistic on what companies could actually be permitted to use your services, otherwise you’re just wasting time. No egos here, just target where you have the best chance of winning.

It’s then a case of manipulating social media to best reach out to those that you have identified as potential sales opportunities. This could be by using Linkedin, searching for groups and discussion points to participate in or possibly writing a blog specific to the client industry your targeting. There are so many ways to manipulate social media and it’s up to you to find out what works best for you. However, what social media gurus agree as a great way to start is by offering something of value for free.

For example, what do you know that could help a possible client? (Think in terms of information you might normally attach a price to, not general information that can be picked up elsewhere). What insider knowledge have you developed that others haven’t grasped yet?  Or, have you developed a theory or strategy that would help your sales target be more effective in their role?

The scenarios are endless, however using social media as a targeted sales tool is absolutely, in my opinion, the way forward in helping to grow and develop. It’s smart selling and turns a slow train into a high-speed express.