For those who may not remember, there was a time when there were literally thousands of Mom & Pop stores and specialty shops doing business on Main Street, USA. Back in the day, a wholesaler could count on annual trade shows to bring in buyers from all corners of the country, who were truly interested in finding new product ideas to merchandise.
There was simply no better way to meet more local, regional and even national buyers over a 2-3 day period, then to exhibit at one of these shows. Today, the retail industry has changed dramatically. Is seems as if the world consolidated into 3-4 mega-chains within every major merchandising category (Office Product, Electronics, Home Centers, Drug Chains). In every market, local retailers were forced to either sell, merge of simply close their doors forever. Not only did these giants change the face of retailing, they have completely destroyed the value of exhibiting at the trade shows.
The primary reason is that there are still hundreds of exhibitors at every trade show, but only about 3-4 buyers who can make that show a true success. But spotting one of those buyers on the showroom floor, can be a lot like catching a glimpse of a rare bird in the middle of a forest. Not only do these buyers rarely even walk the floors anymore… if they do, it is with their name tag turn backwards! That’s right; the last thing in the world they want to do is stop and talk about you about you great product ideas. To stand out at your next trade show, be sure to hire experts like InfinityExhibits.com for your trade show display needs.
So I say save your money! If you want to have any real chance of breaking into the Big Box Retailers, you had better be prepared to pick up the phone and go direct! While technology has certainly changed the way we do business, the telephone still remains your most powerful selling tool. The funny thing is that when most people think about telemarketing, they associate it with something one might do in order to sell replacement windows.
The fact is, the effective use of the telephone can not only get you past the gatekeepers, it can provide you with an opportunity to speak directly to buyers. But the truth is that there is an art to effectively using the phone to close deals or secure meetings. Here are a couple of things for you to remember before you pick up the phone. The way you say something, is every bit as important as what it is you are actually saying. Your tone, voice inflections, and the pace in which you speak can convey a great deal about the value of what you are trying to present.
You might think about it in these terms. How might a young kid sound on sales call versus the CEO of a major corporation. Personally, I think that Ben Affleck said it best in the movie Boiler Room. His message to his sales force was to “act as if”. What he meant was to act as if you were the president of a major corporation, and you taken the time to personally reach out to this buyer.
The next trick is to be disarmingly honest during your sales call. Buyers want to buy, not be sold. If you hate making cold calls, there is nothing wrong with saying so. It catches people completely off guard, and brings defenses down to a level where the buyer can relax and listen to what you are saying. This is also a great way to get past the gatekeepers. It helps create a more common bond between the two of you… Overcoming objections can be a difficult thing for many salespeople. Interestingly enough, you will find that you are consistently hearing the same 3-4 objections from buyers during your sales presentation.
It is important to identify them, so that you can rehearse some well thought out responses. Finally, when trying to close a sale or secure an appointment, many sales people will talk right through every close attempt they make. What this does, is it lets the prospect out of the corner (so to speak), no longer feeling obligated to respond to your direct request. After you make a close or request to meet… SHUT UP! Typically, the next guy who talks loses.