“Get out and sell!” was the mantra I would hear from the customer service reps I once worked with. They knew that their own job security depended on me and a few other guys hitting the streets every day to find new work for our voracious printing presses. Those were the glory days of the sales profession. We felt like unsung heroes as we rode back into the home office with production orders and requests for quotes. If it was late in the year and we were very busy, the office and production crews would start thinking about how big the Christmas bonus would be. Everyone in the company benefitted from the success of the outside sales force and many of them showed their appreciation for us.
The selling environment has changed a lot since the Internet began to connect everyone in real time. Even while outside sales work is done differently today, it’s still outside work.
This means you!
Everyone in the company benefits from the success of the outside sales force which should always include the CEO and most of the senior management team. If you’re a company executive, even if sales isn’t expressly part of your job description, you are in a strong position to develop new business as a person who influences or makes decisions in your firm.
Clients want to work with people in authority who can speak with complete expertise and sway things if necessary on their behalf. If they work with a sales rep, they want someone in a senior position who is highly respected by management. When you’re negotiating a deal, you want to work with someone who makes decisions, not a staff member who can only submit requests. Meeting face to face with those decision makers usually happens in the field – at their office, at restaurants, coffee shops, conference centers, golf courses and maybe even on boats.
Working alone in your office, diligently executing a necessary task feels safe and comfortable. You’re getting work done, but are you actually making money? Could spending that time having lunch with a referral partner or giving an expert talk at a trade conference lead to a big new customer whose revenues will make a positive impact on you and your people? Of course!
One thing is certain: Not going to the event will guarantee that the new opportunities happening there will not be happening for you! And remember, those “necessary tasks” can always be delegated or rescheduled.
How do the top “rainmakers” spend most of their time? Making rain, which usually includes some kind of dance. It takes two to tango. Most prospective clients won’t be hanging out at your office waiting for you to finish a necessary task on your computer. You must go to them.
Participate with other business decision makers at various networking and civic events:
- Trade shows
- Chambers of commerce mixers
- Trade conferences
- Non-profit fundraisers
- BNI Groups
- Rotary Clubs
- Church Groups
- Your idea here…
The selling environment has changed a lot and unfortunately, it’s not quite as simple as “Get out and sell!” anymore. Walking into a non-retail business without an appointment is shunned these days, so physically canvassing and cold calling an area for prospects doesn’t work very well. That’s why the bullet list above is so vitally important for business developers. You need to get out of the office, develop relationships and become a key player in the various places where business actually happens.