This is a guide to selling and is written from the perspective of a marketing & advertising agency. First, let’s compare personal selling to selling over the phone.

Personal selling vs selling over the phone

As a salesperson, you frequently meet new people(strangers) unsolicited ,and it can be very uncomfortable. Now, some sales folks would tell you that they love meeting new people ,and that they are good at people blah blah. While it is true that a good salesperson likes to be social but they can’t deny that every new interaction with a stranger creates tension & stress.

You can easily annoy people if you interrupt them. You never know what the next person is going through at a given point of time. Some people if interrupted by a salesperson can really lose it, and it can be extremely discouraging. Therefore, personal selling is indeed difficult,however, meeting people in person also has some advantages.

First, the mere human interaction can remove a lot of challenges, and communication is easier face-to-face. Second, there is something uncanny about the human face that has a disarming affect on a person. Hence, most strangers are likely to be more accepting, generous & polite during a personal encounter. Above all, they are more likely to remember your face, should you call on them the next time. It’s just a human thing. Besides, the way you dress up, your smile and overall body language and attitude can easily influence a potential client in a personal meeting.

However, if you are just selling over the phone, you do not have anything except your voice and the words you choose to speak. Selling just over the phone is more difficult. Mostly, sales people do cold-calling over the phone first followed by a personal meeting. Either you are selling over the phone or through personal selling, you can reduce the obstacles of the sales process if you prepare for it.

Here is a quick brief about the sales process:

1: Prospecting:

The first task that you need to complete very carefully is the research. You need to find prospects and qualify them by taking a look at their online presence. Qualifying means if the potential client (called prospect) can buy your product or service.

Research the prospects online presence.

I think qualifying prospect is an important step in every sales process but 10X important in the B2B market.For example, in the digital marketing industry, the website can give you almost all the basic ideas about a potential client or their business. You can assess how they are employing Digital marketing and can easily identify gaps that your agency services can fill.

This approach works best when you are selling online marketing services. For other products/services, you need to use a mixed approach. You need to gather bits and pieces of information both online and offline to carry out prospecting.

You can carefully read their about and product/service section followed by a quick peek into their main competition and their websites.Sometimes, the sales or business development executive preferable look at the location in the city to determine whether the client is rich or poor.

Is this the right way to assess a potential budget of a prospect? You can assess the city you live in if that would work for you.

FYI, I have come across some really bad customers in some of the posh areas in terms of spend. I guess the important thing is if they appreciate what you or your industry offer.

Many people have this misconception that internet marketing should be cheap as well as easy. You need to be ready to overcome this attitude during the negotiation process. Educating them a little does go a long way.

Have a script ready before you call the qualified prospect: I assume that you know your product very well and do your rehearsals like the actors. Man, nowadays you have got the smartphone, you can even film yourself, and be like the lead role in your films about sales.

Try to find out who influences the decision and this is the person who would often be the first person to meet you. Often, the decision maker is someone else. Try to get an appointment with a decision maker first, if not, then try meeting them both in the same hour in a back-to-back meeting.

During the call, it is advisable that you ask about the budget earlier on to assess their spend. If the budget is not good enough, you can end the call.

2: Keep your rebuttals ready

Prepare a response when a prospect says:

a) Email us your proposal. b) we are not interested c) we are already working with another agency? d) I am doing it myself

Don’t send a proposal without listening to their problems or questions.  If they are interested, they should spare a few minutes to share a list of issues that pain their business the most.

Afterward, personally I don’t send proposals, I just send them the contract draft. “email us your proposal” is just to get rid of you as they are hit by cold calls every day. So don’t send proposals via email, instead send an email to set an appointment.

3: If you happen to be on call with a prospect, you stand or walk as it brings more energy & momentum during the call.

4: Ask about the decision maker/decision makers: This is too important and don’t forget it.

5: Don’t act like you need their business, they also need your help.

6: Ask if they have any other agency working for them. If they say yes, then offer something that the agency doesn’t offer or do well. Remember, you had learned that during the research when you were qualifying the prospect.

7: How to do a Sales Presentation: Selling Online Marketing Services.

Now that you got through and have got a meeting with the right decision maker, it is time to show them what you can do.

Know the product/service

It means you should know how it solves the customer’s problem. Prepare, a detailed list of rebuttals on important aspects like the features and pricing.

Do you have any experience?

This is an important question and can lead to many rejections if you don’t have a presentable portfolio. The solution is to do complementary services for small businesses if you have to.

A lot of small businesses would not entertain you either if you just randomly start looking in the market. To land a good client for a complimentary service you also need to research the local market.

Try to select a business that has already availed services from your industry. Such a business is likely to appreciate what you offer for free. They can also potentially opt for paid services with you in the future but don’t expect it.

The next important task is to learn how you should present your portfolio. Presentation is an art and I am not just talking about the speaking part but the overall organization of your thoughts.You see having a beautiful presentation does not necessarily earn you a good deal but it can definitely play a role in breaking one.

Mr. Herzberg called this factors of satisfaction and factors of dissatisfaction. For further details, you can look up Herzberg Two-Factor Theory for details. Herzberg says that some factors can merely satisfy a buyer but not motivate them to take action i.e to buy from you.

On the other hand, if the factors of satisfaction (i.e dissatisfiers ) exist then the buyer would drop your service or brand from consideration list. Similarly, having a bad presentation will surely destroy your deal, but a good one would not necessarily get you one.

8: Pay attention to details: It sounds cliched but it is so true. Pay attention to the client’s psychology ,and when they say something don’t take it lightly. You should weigh and measure your response. Anything you say represents you plus anything they say, if you miss it, can break or make your deal.

For example, I was almost closing a client after several meetings (a lot of waste of time & money) ,but I took an unnecessary hard stand over a little change in the price. The client said this:

” Look, think about this let me know how you can adjust some of the prices for your services. Please, don’t quote me now.” But I did it then and there, opposing them straight.Perhaps, I was frustrated that they did not close and my ego just triggered. The rest is history full of a bad memory as they never entertained my call after that 🙂

Now I can laugh about this foolish salesmanship, and can make fun of myself but those days if you would have broached the subjects, man…..!

9: Get Organized:

Just organized yourself. 🙂 what? Everyone can give such free & useless advice. In fact, you don’t need such advice at all; it’s just common sense, isn’t it?

What you really need to do is, define what organizing means  in your life. Ask yourself these questions:

Why are you so disorganized? What causes this? Do you really like the work you do?

OK, please I don’t mean the tidiness of your room. To hell with making your bed and organizing your room.

Do you find yourself organized around your work process? Try to answer this question honestly.

10: Focus on the value for the client and cite a reference to your work. In other words, ensure that your work is important to your prospect’s business.

If you are not convinced that you can contribute, then you should get out of that meeting asap. Be politely though. Just tell them you are not able to do the job for them.

Why Should you be a consultant and where you should draw the limit (coming next)?

11: Don’t be Desperate: This is the mistake we all make during the beginning of our careers and business. We are desperate to get work but you have got to be selective. I know this is easier said than done.

I am sure you would not follow this advice mostly even if you know it is the right thing to do. We all have been there and done that The pressure at the earlier stage of your start-up is so intense, that it is really hard not to react to the situation.

Keeping a balanced and calm approach is enjoyable when you write or read an article like this but once you are pushed to limits and are running for life out there, the animal instinct always kicks in unconsciously.Too bad! I guess, we have evolved this way.

OK, I admit it does feel better to blame it all on the evolution, right?

Having said that, I must also say that you don’t need to freak out as practice makes perfect. Just try to get the experience of facing these situations, you would do better. By the way, practices is the hardest thing to do

Don’t worry, brother! You will make it. I am sure.

However, the key is to stay focused on the gains in the long-run. Cheap clients would destroy your growth, and would seriously bog your agency down. Listen to those who have gone down this unpleasant path.

Don’t forget, you would like to grow your business in the end!

That’s why among the mystics when someone is spiritually high at night is considered less useful as compared to his mental/spiritual state during the day. It’s the day which is full of distractions and makes you forget about important goals and the direction of life.

This must not happen to you during a deal. Negotiate your terms of survival loud and clear Don’t be absent mentally during the negotiation. Above all, don’t over-commit/over-promise to get the deal.

By the way, don’t get discouraged, you can make it. Just remain steadfast.