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The initial cost is no longer an obstacle, as several Internet- based programs have been introduced recently which allow you to use contact-management software via Internet on a monthly- rental basis.
4. Presentations. The computer-enabled salesperson uses a laptop with presentation or video programs to present a new product or service to customer. Using these tools means that you can prepare a colorful, animated, talking presentation, and view it together with your customer. That allows you to make sure you get all important details into presentation, and present product as positively as possible. Taking time to create a presentation in a stress free environment of your home or office ensures a far higher quality in presentation than if you attempt to adlib as you go in front of customer.
Store your supplemental paper-based literature on computer, and print sell sheets with a portable printer on an as-needed basis. Watch all clutter in back seat of your car disappear.
You can take this concept to a deeper level. Your company's marketing department, for example, can create product presentations and make them available for all salespeople via CD ROMs, downloads over web, or internal networks.
Manufacturers can do same for their distributors. Instead of relying completely on a salesperson visiting and training your distributor salesforce on new products and promotions, why not create those product presentations and make them available to automation-enabled distributor salespeople over Internet?
5. Become customer's search engine. There's no doubt that amount of information available on web in growing exponentially. It takes time to search through it all to find answers to questions you, and your customers, have. Yet all of your customers are suffering today with more to do and less time to do it than ever before. Time is most precious commodity of Information age.
The person who can find information on Internet for someone else, and thereby save him or her time, is of great value. I routinely pay people to search web for information that I want. I don't have time to do it myself, and it's a service that is of value to me. You can serve that function for your customers, becoming trusted source of applied information.
Learn to use Internet to research product applications, competitive products, competition, technical details, and whatever other questions tempt you or intrigue your customer. One way to prevent your customers from using Internet to replace you is to preempt process. Build your Internet skills to point where your customers come to rely on you as a trusted source of important information, and you'll become irreplaceable to them.
6. Share your success. We've only just scratched surface of ways in which an automation-enabled outside salesperson can use computerization to become more effective. There are probably thousands of specific things you can do more effectively via computerization. You may have some powerful and unique applications yourself.
Here's an invitation to share your techniques with other salespeople. If you have a technique you'd like to share, visit Kahles Korner, a bulletin board for salespeople, and submit your idea. Use your browser to open this page: www.davekahle.com, and click on button For "Salespersons Members Board." When prompted for a username, type "slspeople," then use "sales" as a password. Post your idea, or review ideas of others. To entice you, we'll send a free copy of my new book, The Six-Hat Salesperson, to three salespeople every month in year 2000 who submit best ideas that month.
You can no longer afford to be computer or Internet ignorant if you expect to prosper as a salesperson in 21st Century. The time to make proactive moves to become automation-enabled is now. ###
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Dave Kahle is a consultant and trainer who helps his clients increase their sales and improve their sales productivity. For more information, or to contact the author, contact The DaCo Corporation, 15 Ionia SW, Suite 220, Grand Rapids, MI 49503; phone 1-800-331-1287; fax 1-616-451-9412; Info@davekahle.com www.davekahle.com