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The New Face of Sales: Your Voice


The lives of outside sales reps are changing. The outside sales rep is increasingly being asked to be…inside. At least for now it seems as though the days of 5 states in 3 days are slowing down. I’m not saying they are by any means gone (my brother in law called me 3 times yesterday from 3 different states with 2 out of 3 of them in different time zones) but it is becoming increasingly effective/acceptable to your prospect to run meetings while in the confines of your own office. Some of the old school sales reps I know hate this, but it offers so many benefits for companies that it must be looked at. Here is why:

1. Expenses are getting...expensive. Gas is roughly the same price as dragon tears. I filled up my tank on the way into work, 75 bucks. (USD not Rupees) My immediate thought was that I should punch the gas attendant. Then curiosity took over and I wondered what gas was made of. (Baby seals and gold dust was the only reasonable answer.) Then I just got in the car and cried. These ridiculous gas prices are passed directly onto the company, be it in the form of airline tickets or gas card write offs. Take my $75 gas charge and figure out how much that costs my company over the course of a year. When traveling within New England I usually fill my tank about 4 times. That is $300 a week, $1,200 a month and $14,000 a year. Multiply that by the number of sales people that do the same (4) and you have a $56,000 bill. That’s a lot of scratch for a small company. This doesn’t even count the lunches, dinners, coffees, drinks and tolls that we see which I would think more than double this cost.

2. Take the time a face to face meeting should take, multiply that by 2 and you get the time a face to face meeting actually does takes. Any avid golfer/sales person will tell you a round of golf takes approximately 12 hrs. It takes 1 hr to get ready and make small talk, 5 hrs to golf and 1 hr to talk business and then the next 5 hrs to drink and talk about how much you love golf.

From a productivity standpoint, I can effectively run 5 – 7 sales meetings in a day depending on what stage the prospect is at. Does your round of golf or whatever you’re doing in your face to face meeting raise your close rate to the point where it negates my increased exposure? Let’s say I have 5 meetings and based on numbers I know I will close one. That means that in a week of 5 meetings a day, I will come out with five deals. Now say your face to face time allows for 2 meetings a day or ten a week. You will have to have a 50% close rate on those meetings to match me. The face to face will have to greatly bump up the close rate to make sense.

3. Decrease Employee Turnover. Travel time is one of those things that sales people love to complain about. “I was in San Fran this morning, heading to Dallas tonight and then Philly tomorrow afternoon.” Other sales guy, “I hear ya man, I did the San Fran, Houston, NYC swing the other day.” They both then grumble and talk about the best airports to fly into and what restaurants they like to take clients to. Travel time and work related stresses are big causes of sales burnout. There is only so long that you can eat out 4 days a week, stay in different hotels, live out of a bag and maintain a family without getting burnt out. A lot of great sales people go into management or change jobs for less money so that they can have a more stable home life. If you eliminate a lot of the travel, you may be able to retain more talent. This will allow you to keep effective sellers longer and not spend as much on recruiting top talent.

Face to face meetings are not going to go away and I would never suggest you ground your sales team year round. My point is that a lot of the sales process can now be done over the phone. Of course your audience and the size of your universe can change this, but for a lot of us most of our meetings can be done over the phone. Stop buying those expensive suits and work on your diction!


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