Graduate from courtesy calls to business meetings with buyers

Buyers are busier than ever; buzzing here and buzzing there to meet deadlines submit reports and catch up on Facebook. Therefore, “I just called to see how things are” is a misplaced (and irritating) disruption.

You must have missed the funeral. And not just that, the obituary, matanga (meetings) and service too. That’s the only reason why you keep,”I just called to see how things are” alive. There was a time, salespeople were expected to schedule the courtesy call as part of their sales visits; among the objectives it was expected to serve was to make the buyer feel wanted and also find out first hand any problems he had with the seller’s product/service. At that time, the world was moving slower than it is today and buyers were more patient. Possibly this was because the landline was in vogue, mail was sent through the post office and the seller (plus the outdated books at the library) was largely the only source of information.

Then one day the Y2K tsunami hit shore with the thunderous twin turbo charged power of the internet and mobile phone, and with a whoosh! communication was instant, prevalent, easily and quickly available quite literally at the fingertips. And the technology bug rapidly snowballed and today the world is referred to as a village. Now that buyers are flooded with emails, Skype messages, calls on their mobile phones and a myriad other information attack modes, one begins to see why, ” I just called to see how things are is a misplaced (and irritating) disruption. Buyers are busier than ever; buzzing here and buzzing there to meet deadlines submit reports and catch up on Facebook.

With the changing landscape, progressive sellers know that the courtesy call has evolved into a business call that progresses the sale. Such a call must have an objective which could be to gather information or seek commitment. “Hello, (Prospects Name) My name is Mwingine, and I’m calling from Another Company. We spoke on (date) about (what you discussed) and agreed that I call you back regarding (what next step was)”. The seller knows that he is not always at the top of the busy buyer’s mind and must therefore bring him back to the same page they were last on.

Average sellers, on the other hand, have evolved the courtesy call, from verbal to email. And they wonder why there’s no response. Instead of a bland, “Hello (Prospects name), I am just writing to say hello and ask how things are”, a more productive and progressive email would be one with a link or extract to an article that will help the prospect with his decision making process or his business. “Hello (Prospects name), I read about this (link or extract) and thought about how it can improve your business (or our discussion). I’m open to meeting you tomorrow at 10am to further this discussion or Tuesday same time if that is better”

What does the foregoing mean for the seller? She must evolve too if she is to remain the go-to person for information as she used to be before the tsunami hit. She must evolve beyond knowledge of her product to that of her company, industry and most importantly the buyer’s industry too. She must evolve away from the traditional courtesy call, and towards the productive business call.

Sellers who claim that, “This week I’m making courtesy calls,” are flogging a dead horse. In essence what they are saying is that they have no prospect to see and thus use the courtesy call as excuse to fill in the prospecting blank.

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