We hear a lot about techniques and systems to sell without selling. Some so-called sales gurus will lead you to believe that you don’t have to sell. Selling has always been seen as something almost distasteful especially to those who don’t want to sell. Perhaps it’s because of early experiences people have had with “pushy” salespeople.
Cold calling or prospecting is also something that most people find it difficult to do. Perhaps it’s not so much the difficulty but not having the right mindset for cold calling. I have come across two small business owners recently whose sales need a boost and have taken to cold calling. The one is a person it in his early 30s who has moved his computer business from a small town in the Free State to Johannesburg. He has to begin his computer consulting and repair business from scratch in the city. So he has begun a programme of cold calling in person, which is actually door-to-door selling, starting with industrial areas such as Strydom Park. He tells me he can’t venture out too far to other industrial parks because he needs customers to be relatively close so that he can serve them quickly and also keep his fuel bill down.
The other small business owner, based in the Eastern Cape, runs a mechanical engineering business which is targeted mainly at the agricultural market. Sales have slowed down in his outfit and he has got into his car and has started knocking on farm doors. He is in his late 30s, and like the small computer business owner, is eager to get out there to potential customers to prospect for sales.
The great Fred Herman ran a programme under American Sales Masters, where he helped salespeople take the “frost” off cold calls. That program is no longer available but if you have copy treasure it, learn from it and practice. Stefan Schiffman, another sales trainer wrote a book called “Cold Calling Techniques” in which he points out that the number one reason businesses fail is their lack of sales.
To make sales, you have to develop a solid base of prospects. Stefan points out that one-third of sales happens no matter what you do. I think this may be for the larger businesses but for the small unknown business this figure really doesn’t hold true. Then, says Stefan, there is one-third of your sales that you’re not going to get for whatever reason, no matter what you do.
The last one-third is up for grabs and this is where the small business owner separates themselves from those small business owners who don’t like selling or don’t want to sell. You may be able to make a living from the first one third but in this economy even that one third is not what it used to be. To get your share of the one-third of sales that are up for grabs, you’ve got to get more appointments and convert those appointments into sales.
Stefan says that “When God wanted to punish salespeople, he invented the “cold call”. But for those small business owners who don’t want to stand around doing nothing while their sales fall, knowing how to cold call and sell can make the difference between closing up shop or continuing to thrive no matter what the economic conditions are like.