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Pick Up the Phone!

March 22, 2012, 05:00 PM

Move away from your keyboard and slowly drop your mouse. Now pick up the phone and make a call!
  
It seems that using the phone in sales is slowly but surely going the way of the typewriter for some. Just today I called a prospect I have never spoken with who said he couldn’t believe I actually called him rather send him an email. We immediately engaged in a conversation about how email has changed the selling process – not for the better in some ways.
 
Imagine a world if you will, with no Internet – and all the information you need is NOT at your fingertips; a world where relationships are built by people actually talking to each other.

Because I grew up in sales in the 80s and 90s (before Al Gore invented the Internet), emailing was not a selling tool at my disposal. Like everyone else in sales back then, I had to make “blind” prospect calls without the benefit of emailing the prospect a primer of information about my company, products and services prior to my call. And the information I could find (if any) about these prospects was laughable. As a matter of fact, most of the time I had to call the receptionist just to learn the name of the CFO or President. But guess what…selling that way worked! Most of you remember that world…admit it.
 
Please don’t think I’m stuck in the past or a total dinosaur because I do use email extensively and believe it is one of the most useful tools we have in our sales toolbox today. But I still use the phone daily when it comes to almost every part of my responsibilities. I could certainly rely on email to accomplish many of my daily tasks, and I do in some cases. But I will never believe that emailing a person can ever replace the long-term value created from a simple phone call.
 
And while you can do your best to make your emails more personal, they will never capture the true essence of you as a person and as a sales person. Only a face-to-face meeting or a phone call can accomplish that level of communication. Emails can certainly capture a piece of you and deliver your message, but they cannot and will never fully deliver all you bring to the table as a sales person. Never.

I was taught consultative/relationship selling skills by some of the best sales people I have ever known, and that selling style works best for me because I’m what you call a “relationship guy”.  This desire to create relationships has served me well and each of my professional relationships began with either a handshake or a phone call. Not just an email.
 
As humans, we listen to one another and in sales, my mentors often told me to shut up and listen (and to learn to read upside down). An email exchange does not create the human interaction created by a phone call because emailing lacks something critical in the selling process – the ability to listen and infer.
 
Throughout my career I have known some of the most successful sales people in the commercial finance industry. These professionals did not achieve their success by merely presenting their products and services to prospective customers in neatly wrapped packages (like an email). They developed relationships with their prospects who eventually became customers. Yet today, so many sales people lament over crafting the perfect email that will capture the prospect’s attention. But the fact is, a simple phone call may be more effective.
 
Other than face-to-face selling, the phone is the only true way to effectively sell. Yes, we should use email to send information to prospects and correspond with them regularly. But I’ve heard too many people tell me the same thing through the years, “I’ve emailed him 10 times and he never emails me back. And I know he opens my emails because I always get a return receipt.” Hearing that drives me crazy.
 
Tell your sales people to try an old but proven tactic – don’t let prospects know you’re coming and call them unexpectedly without an email “warning shot”.  Tell them they should expect rejection and lots of it, but to persevere and make more calls. We all know no one likes rejection, but it’s a lot easier to take rejection from an email than from a living and breathing human being on a phone call.  Sure it hurts more to hear it live, but it’s good for you! Getting rejected live may be the best incentive for a sales person to craft that perfect message that will capture a prospect’s interest in the first 15 seconds of a LIVE PHONE CALL.  

So if you’re new to sales, give it a try. If you’re a sales veteran, you likely use the phone quite a bit…or perhaps you use email a bit too much too... 

Founder / Publisher / Chief Executive Officer | Equipment Finance Advisor
Michael Toglia is the Founder, Publisher and President of Equipment Finance Advisor.

Toglia's experience in commercial finance spans over 25 years having held various roles in senior management, business origination, capital markets and commercial credit underwriting. Prior to entering the publishing industry, Toglia most recently served as a Vice President of Capital Markets and as the National Sales Manager for both the Equipment Finance and Asset-Based Lending Divisions of Textron Financial Corporation. He has also held various roles with General Electric Capital and CIT Group.

He has been an active member of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association having served two terms as a member of the Service Providers Business Council Steering Committee.

Toglia holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and an M.B.A. in Finance.

Contact Michael Toglia at 484.380.3184 or mtoglia@equipmentfa.com.


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Comments From Our Members

Robert Boehm
Right on, Mike. I love talking to prospects. First, I learn a lot from talking to them. I learn about their businesses, and I learn what appeals to them and what does not appeal to them. That helps me make a better presentation when I talk to the next prospect. Second, it gives me the opportunity to explain what my company does. Talking to a prospect is another form of advertising and public relations.
3.26.2012 @ 12:18 PM

Michael Toglia • View APN Profile
Thank you Bob! I agree with each of your points.
3.28.2012 @ 3:40 PM
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