One of the most significant developments in the field of sales has been the exponential increase in inside sales positions over the past 15 years. What was once the domain of purely transactional sales has become the primary avenue for most, if not all, revenue generation in many organizations.
Technology and cost efficiency have made this growth both possible and necessary in even the most old-line, well established fields. The days of the “relationship seller” who dines, golfs and visits with customers is a thing of the past.
However, there are situations where a face-to-face sales call is imperative. I will leave to a future blog what conditions warrant such a trip and focus instead on how to ensure that such visits are most productive.
Given the cost of such a trip, the first consideration is a risk-reward analysis. As compared to the average cost-per-sale and the average cost-per-call metrics, how much will the trip cost? This cost needs to then be weighed against where in the decision journey the buyers are focusing. A trip made for purely exploratory reasons is usually warranted only when the call is being made at the C-level of a large buying organization. When the call is being made in order to provide a formal presentation of a solution, the consideration of on-site or virtual is based on how many individuals will be involved on the buyer’s side and how the other competitors are making theirs. Clearly, if the customer is buying a fleet of new commercial airliners, it is not likely the presentation can be made virtually.
If the decision is being made to send a seller or a team to the client site, the next question is what else can be accomplished on that trip. Are there other opportunities for uncovering new business in the buyer’s city? Are there customer experience efforts that would make a site visit to existing customers worthwhile? Is there an opportunity to deliver a “lunch and learn” event in order to generate awareness on the part of other prospects? In other words, can the cost of the trip be amortized across more than one opportunity or sales effort?
The world of selling has changed. Gone are the days of parking the car in an office park and knocking on doors. Gone are the days of defaulting to putting a rep on an airplane to visit customer sites simply because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” In today’s business climate, the on-site visit requires greater forethought and better planning if the dollars invested are to produce the highest value for the selling organization.
Make sure you know the key distinctions between field sales and inside sales:
Inside Sales vs. Field Sales