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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

There was a time when telephone selling, or telesales, was considered an lower level of of sales, compared to the smart-suited executive in his top-of-the-range car. Of course, this opinion varies from sector to sector; just look at recruitment to see highly paid executives who spend all their time selling by phone.

Nowadays, other sectors are beginning to realise that the telephone, when accompanied by online tools, can be a far more effective method of selling. We're seeing telesales now being utilised as a compliment to the sales cycle, particularly in areas such as software which were once considered "high-touch" and too complex to be sold using the phone.

I think that there are three key drivers behind this:

Online Presentation & Demonstration Tools - such as GotToMeeting, and WebEx, now make it simple to handle early parts of the sales cycle remotely. With decision makers and their teams often geographically dispersed, handling initial presentations online not only saves money in travelling costs, but can also dramatically shorten sales cycles. Plus, it enables the telesales agent to collaborate with pre-sales technical support (which could be located elsewhere) to provide all the answers that client needs.

Fee-Based and Disruptive Business Models
- hosted applications, "software-as-service", and other low-cost charging models have made the on-the-road sales person no longer viable or cost-effective. Utilising remote selling, usually in conjunction with e-commerce platforms or live-agent tools, is the way forward. You still need highly-skilled people, but now they can service more customers in less time than is possible with face-to-face selling. Need an example? Look no further than salesforce.com

Changing Customer Attitudes - can you remember when they said no one would buy groceries online? when it comes to enterprise sales, people have been a little slower to catch up. Partly, I suspect, because sales people have a vested interest in keeping their cars. However, decision makers have become time-starved and scheduling a 20-minute online presentation can be much more preferable to blocking out an hour in the day (plus they can fit the online meeting in while they're working from home...or even while they're on the train!). Can you remember when most of your clients didn't have email? Nowadays, most middle-managers can only be contacted via their Blackberry (see Email vs Cold Calling) You get the point, people are far more open to new ways of doing business, especially if it saves them time.

Telephone Sales, Telesales, Remote BizDev, call it what you will...it's a growing part of sales today, and a great way to shorten otherwise long and costly sales cycles.

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Posted by: David Regler @ 10:25 am |   | Links to this post  

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