Your Best Pitch
There are 18 million salespeople employed in the United States. By 2020, only 3 million will be needed, according to the white paper "4 Leadership Trends in B2B Sales & Marketing."
The white paper stated: "That predicted drop in number is by no means evidence that salespeople will be less important to the growth of competitive companies in the future. Rather, it is a reflection of the fundamental way the Internet has altered the landscape, particularly in these key areas: customer relationships; selling methodologies; sales-management metrics; and collaboration with support teams, such as marketing, sales operations, customer service and inside sales teams."
With that in mind, salespeople need to think critically about how they work. Some approaches are better than others and help get those doors swung open.
For example, Mark Henry, channel manager at Creative Digital Imaging in Bangor, Maine, makes every cold call count.
"I try to accomplish three things in every cold call: be respectful of their time, identify a challenge their industry has and how I can alleviate that pain and offer to meet on their terms–—even if that means I need to get on a plane that afternoon," he said.
For Lori Gotschall, owner of Partners in Printing based in Lutz, Fla., it's dropping a few names.
"I usually try using a referral name or a competitor's name who we do business with," Gotschall explained. "It usually catches the attention of the potential client and results in a return reply. I think curiosity gets the best of the potential client."
Darren Russell, account manager for Chatsworth, California-based Coronet Printing, said there is no one particular way that "always" gets a salesperson in the door, an e-mail opened or a call returned.
"I think that salespeople need to develop a strategy that works for them and use it based on what they know about the customer," Russell noted. "Again, being a chameleon is important. If your customer likes motorcycles then you as the salesperson should like motorcycles, too, during the time spent communicating with the customer. If your customer wants to talk business only, then you as the salesperson should want to talk business only. I think adapting to the customer's likes/dislikes will get you in the door, so to speak, more often than not—but nothing is 100 percent guaranteed to work every time. I think adapting to what the customer likes/dislikes works best because people like to do business with friends and the best way to make friends with people is to identify with ideas/beliefs they share."