Cold calls simply aren’t enough to catapult a salesperson into the limelight, says Mark Zokle, an Illinois-based sales manager and industry veteran. Here, Zokle outlines why information is power and how the internet has changed the business.
Q: You’ve said before that “cold” calling doesn’t work. Why not?
Mark Zokle: A cold call is just that, cold, generic, and uninviting. These types of communication are often ignored or, worse, looked at as an annoyance by decision makers. “Warm” calls, however, are those where the salesperson has made the effort to learn about a potential client and their needs and targets their message specifically to that person or business.
Q: How can a salesperson engage with his or her future customers before official introductions are made?
Mark Zokle: A vast majority of business managers read publications or are involved in groups relating to their industry. A salesperson can increase his or her name recognition and display communal interests by joining these groups and participating in discussions where a buyer is likely to take notice.
Q: In your opinion, does the internet make things easier or harder for those in a sales position?
Mark Zokle: Both actually. On one hand, the customer now has access to unlimited information, meaning they don’t have to rely on the sales agent for descriptions of their product or service. They can compare pricing, capabilities, and even turn times online. On the other, the internet makes it easier to excavate information about a client and use that information as a conversation starter.
Q: What does it mean to “flip the script?”
Mark Zokle: For too long, sales has been a largely one-sided career, with the rep simply showing off their company’s top three products. Today, a generic sales pitch from the product side doesn’t work. Sales representatives need to step into the shoes of the client company and talk about the process from that perspective.