Business and technology have evolved both rapidly and simultaneously over the past century. Although many of our old practices aren’t completely extinct, they’re seldom seen in the day-to-day lives of most modern businesses, and, thankfully, have developed into more efficient alternatives; the letter is now the e-mail; filing paper now dragging and dropping; London to New York, now a Skype conference. On the whole, it’s fair to say that business has been a catalyst for change in technology, just as technology has been a catalyst for change in business.
But has this snowball effect of change made the job of the salesperson any easier? Does the modern, phone-wielding seller have the upper hand? Or does the old-fashioned, face-to-face method still reign supreme? After putting this question across to various groups on LinkedIn, I received some great responses- here are some of the best.
Key Account Manager at Sesame Communications
Each has their merits. Selling on the road gives the salesperson the ability to access and interpret the prospect’s body language and offers an opportunity to bond and establish credibility. However, the travel and face time reduces efficiency.
I enjoy the face time with my clients but realize that certain sales positions make more sense via telephone offering more efficiency, greater prospect touch, more time to build a lead base and develop sales. I personally find that I like a mix of both types of sales in order to capitalize on the merits of each.
Student at The Alliance Business Academy
It all depends who is your target customer. Mostly it’s inside office if it’s B2B and outdoor if its B2C. There are a lot of factors involved, like what kind of product you have to sell, who is your key demographic and what is the marketing strategy your company has acquired.
Executive Assistant at Covey Computer Software
I believe it depends on the market you are in. If, for example, you have a select drop of customers, I feel that on the road salespeople will be more effective and give great customer service. It is a balancing act. I know sales people who hate email and phone communication, and some clients I have spoken to hate that they cannot see us in person. Person-to-person sales can be a very powerful tool.
Dell Financial Services Strategic Account Manager
Every top salesperson I’ve known and work with today all agree that nothing beats seeing into your customer’s eyes to gauge how you are being received and, even more importantly, how your products and services are meeting the customer’s needs. People who are great communicators know by the look and the body language the customer is sending when the sale is either won or lost. You can’t achieve that in an email.
Industrial Machinery Sales Manager
I love having an audience- you can accomplish so much more when interacting at this level. I also find that the culture at some companies is to utilize the ‘synthetic fence’ of e-mail and web pages to hide from face-to-face interaction, as it is easier to extract oneself from an online conversation by way of a non-response.
It’s clear that sales on the phone and on the road have their respective advantages and disadvantages. The technique used by the salesperson, therefore, has to depend on various things, including the industry, product and prospect.
The key gaps between the two styles, however, lie in the lack of face-time that calling offers and the distinct lack of practicality in meeting every prospect. Although many of the respondents featured in this post prefer face-to-face selling, I’m sure all will agree that, more often than not, time is of the essence.
The same high level of convenience that saw selling on the phone rise to prominence has seen various companies in recent years start to use video calling in their interview process as a midway point between meeting a prospective employee and simply interviewing them on the phone.
Considering how important body language can be to successful selling, it could perhaps be suggested that at some point in the sales process, face-time should be acquired through FaceTime (or similar), offering companies the convenience of not leaving the office whilst still meeting prospects in a manner that allows them to build a relationship beyond tone of voice.
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