Amanda Puppo believes that great salespeople should be spending their time in front of decision-makers, instead of chasing them down for appointments. She said the operators and suppliers who she serves understand that and enjoy a strong competitive advantage.
“Post-pandemic workplace transitions have all but required operators to take a new look at their prospect universe, requalify for on-site staff size and decision-maker name, and start new in going after their target market,” said Puppo.
The best way to connect to a prospect
According to Puppo, even though there is a lot of talk about digital marketing and how AI could impact selling, telephone cold calling will always be a critical tool in business to business selling. “A sales rep needs to use internet research to qualify, the phone to engage and email in between to accompany the outreach,” said Puppo. “Phone calling is not going away because when you're selling items or services that are in the thousands of dollars and are often very relationship based, you must prospect and engage. The best way to connect with a prospect is to pick up the phone and give them a call. MarketReach clients have been benefitting from our approach for years.”
A consultative approach
Puppo is a believer in having a business development mix in play, including pay-per-click advertising and even direct mail because there is so little of it being sent out these days. “Email is suffocating us, but when you pick up the phone and engage with your prospect, you will uncover pain points and improvement areas, and if you can build rapport and ask smart questions with acute listening skills, then you can uncover real opportunity,” she said. “Even if the prospect is not ready today, if you have proper follow-up, you'll get in the door eventually. And the way we do it – it’s a simple concept of matching the prospect’s needs and pain points with the solution you offer – a consultative approach. The moment they say hello, that is when the questions start.”
The ”secret sauce”
What is the “secret sauce” for Puppo and her team at MarketReach? In a recent episode of Automatic Merchandiser’s Vending & OCS Nation podcast, she said it comes down to four things:
- Executing proper follow-up
- Having thick skin
- A solid strategy for each call session
“None of it is really rocket science. It just takes those attributes to get the door open, but also to know when to say, ‘All right, you’re not my prospect for the next six months, at least, maybe for the next year, maybe ever.’ It's about properly qualifying, engaging, being authentic, asking smart questions, listening, and then setting up a meeting, but only when it makes sense,” Puppo said.
In-house – An extremely expensive proposition
Puppo notes that it often takes from three to 10 calls to get a decision-maker on the phone. “When it comes to picking up the phone, that whole 1985 reference of the thousand-pound phone still exists today, and younger people are even less apt to want to do it,” she said. “Trying to do telemarketing in-house is always more expensive than people think. Maybe $16 to $20 an hour for an in-house telemarketer – plus there's oversight, there's recruiting, and they probably won’t find the right person among the first one, two or three people. Now you have retraining, rehiring, an extremely expensive proposition.”
The right type of appointments
“We deliver the right kinds of prospects in a qualified manner right out of the gate. 100% of my people are trained in the breakroom services space, so we will get you the right types of appointments, based on your minimum on-site staff requirements. Because we know the business, we know what a good prospect looks like,” Puppo added.
As Puppo points out, when a sales representative gets a decision-maker on the phone, that’s when they really need to be at their best. “Unfortunately, mental stamina often becomes an issue and can have a negative impact on selling performance,” she said. “Our people specialize in calling, they understand the vending, OCS and micro market business, they actually enjoy cold calling, and that is why we get better results. Many operators just give up and stop calling after trying to do it themselves in-house, but that is a mistake, because telemarketing can deliver some tremendous opportunity when you execute it the right way.”
Requalifying is important
Puppo said that one factor that is driving demand for her services is the need for requalifying potential prospects following the pandemic. “In the breakroom services space, not requalifying is a big problem,” she explained. “Most operators do not have a solid CRM to track their prospects and update that prospect information. If the company you were calling for a couple of years had 130 people and they're an accounting firm, you've got to call them again and you've got to ask the right questions to the receptionist to find out how many employees are on staff every day and to get the name of the current decision-maker, because much has changed since the pandemic.”
Another reason why the phones are ringing at MarketReach is a desire by operators and suppliers to recapture lost sales. “We’re grateful to the industry because it has been a couple of very tough years, especially in the OCS channel, but not only have operators and suppliers stuck with us, we have added new clients, and the message is clear. They want to regain market share, and we are out there helping them accomplish that goal,” she said.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bob Tullio is a content specialist, speaker, sales trainer, consultant and contributing editor of Automatic Merchandiser/VendingMarketWatch.com. He advises entrepreneurs on how to build a successful business from the ground up and specializes in helping suppliers connect with operators in the convenience services industry – coffee service, vending, micro markets and pantry service specifically.
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