When I first got started in sales back in the late 1970s, the first thing I learned was how to get in front of decision- makers by knocking on their doors. This was the primary channel for securing leads up until the late 1980s.
As security within office buildings became more prominent and strict, cold-calling became the next best way to make connections. Prior to computers, the phone directory was your customer relationship management system (CRM) and the sales industry started instituting a “100 calls a day” program. The idea was that if you had made at least 100 calls a day, you would have at least two leads that could turn into at least one deal. Back then, one phone call could turn into an in-person meeting, which would lead to a possible sale.
Starting in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the introduction of email began changing the way we sold. Cold-calling as we knew it was still the primary channel to reach leads, but email became the new channel for follow-up. This was the beginning of the end of true personal contact. Since then, personal contact with clients has been replaced with text messages and emails.
While the physician gatekeepers are no longer an obstacle for salespeople, the digital world has a new set of gatekeepers that create a whole new challenge.
Sales operations for small and large institutions are becoming online-only operations. For example, when you purchase a Tesla, the entire order is made online. You don’t need to go to a physical store to build and purchase your Tesla. When your car is ready, you’ll receive a text message and an email to pick up your vehicle.
As salespeople, we are always forced to adapt to change, otherwise we fail. The way we do business and the way we attract new business leads have to evolve as new technologies are introduced and consumer behavior changes.
As a manager, I know that salespeople with true communication skills are actually hard to find. Certainly, they can describe details of their product or service and what they don’t know they can always refer their clients to an app or a website. However, a true salesperson is constantly finding new ways to get in front of existing and new clients to gain new leads.
With no contact information easily available, you can spend your time researching for contacts. However, the best and easy way to build your business in a market dynamic as we have now is to rely on referrals first. The fastest way to close new deals is to sell new products or services to past clients.
For this to happen you must change your game plan to become a referral-based salesperson. You need to commit to referral base sales as your primary source of business. This means developing tools to execute on this commitment.
Instead of “100 calls a day” — try securing 25 new contacts by getting a referral from one former client. At the same time, you need to offer your own referrals to your referral sources. By doing so, you will begin to create a business model that will lead to long-term referrals which will give you the best chance to achieve success.