For years I have deployed many strategies to market my services to prospects I hope to convert into clients. The most common communications with prospects are phone calls, email, and face-to-face meetings. Phone calls are inexpensive and the fastest way to speak with your prospects. Unfortunately your competitors and dozens of other companies are trying to get ahold of your prospects as well. With this volume of calls your prospects are inconvenienced with interruptions all day to the extent that they deploy gatekeepers to keep you from the decision maker. Consequently, if your market is a highly competitive field such as merchant card services, insurance sales, copier sales and advertising you have got to be amazing on the phone. Emails are less invasive but there is no guarantee they will ever be read. The most effective proven strategy has been around for thousands of years: The Pop-In Visit.
Imagine it is the year 1012. You are selling metals in London to local blacksmiths. You would most likely ride horseback to each of your customers collecting payments and delivering product. Along the way you would hear of an up-and-coming blacksmith who is new in town. As a result, he (your prospect) would be a visit you made on your sales route. You would ride to his shop and give an introduction. You would talk current events such as how the Archbishop of Canterbury was taken hostage and how silly it was that St. Alphege refused to pay ransom. After some small talk you may show your latest shipment of metals from India. If you where successful that became a regular visit for the rest of your life. Rapport building 1000 years ago was established through commonality and trust. Nothing about this process has ever changed. A pop in visit with a prospect (when done correctly) plants the seed of a relationship that can grow with proverbial light and water (aka: The Follow Up).
In modern times salespeople look at Excel spreadsheet of prospects and Google the location and get turn-by-turn directions. If that person is covering a large territory there is a lot of time wasted conducting research. Sometimes salespeople happen to drive by and see a sign for a prospect that is in a list of people to visit and they pop in to say hello. The problem with this is that most quality prospects aren’t on the major thoroughfares. A majority of them do not even have exterior signage. The best prospects are in office parks off the beaten path. This is why we developed CallProof. We believe if you are near your prospect a pop-in visit can be the best way to make your initial contact. By using CallProof’s sorting capabilities salespeople can quickly sort prospects based on the GPS location data gathered from their smartphone and identify prospects they need to get in front of.
Of course a pop-in visit can be “cold” but it isn’t as icy as a cold call, which gives the answering party the opportunity to hang up. Basic human nature is to be generally nice. However, we have been conditioned to not talk to strangers. It is important to understand that the purpose of a face-to-face meeting is not to sell your prospect something but to have a genuine connection and establish a relationship.
Steps to a successful Pop-In Visit.
- Be friendly and build rapport.
- Exchange names
- Find a commonality. This can easily be done by finding out who they know via LinkedIn.
- Ask questions about their business
- Beware of “your bothering me” signs and be ready to exit gracefully should they arise.
- Make sure you always exchange business cards.
- Conclude the visit in a positive manner regardless of the possibility of an unfriendly rejection.
- Every single face-to-face meeting should end with a follow-up email and a LinkedIn request. You should always have a “digital” business card in their email and a connection on LinkedIn. Your prospect could find that their current vendor isn’t meeting their needs and a simple search in their inbox will help them find you. Below is an example of a concise but effective follow-up email.
Subject: “The product you sell”
Message: It was a pleasure meeting you the other day at your office. Below is my contact information should you have any needs that arise.
Please note… Rarely do people send hand written notes anymore. So writing a note and mailing it goes a long way as well.
- Now that you have had your face-to-face, a timely call to schedule a meeting or simply ask your prospect what they think is the next course of action will do nothing but build rapport.
- Always take notes of the visit for future review and use the follow-up tools in your CRM to set reminders of future action. If your CRM does not have a follow-up tool, you are losing sales as a result.
A face-to-face rapport-building venture can be the very strategy that can move your sales to the next level. If you can commit to being smart with your gas and make good use of the technology available you can see two new faces with each appointment tripling you sales opportunities.