A client recently shared about a road trip he and his boss had taken to do walk-in calls. The salesperson was being encouraged to start going further afield to look for new business opportunities so he created a list of potential companies and off they went. The boss was essentially going for the ride to be of support so he allowed things to unfold as they did.
A few interesting things happened. One, a number of the potential businesses were actually independently owned and operated from the owner's residence so there wasn't any way of the pair meeting them. Two, when they did get in front of a prospect there hadn't been any preparation done so the purpose of the visit was unknown. And third, the salesperson approached the visit as a social call rather than to find out whether there was a potential need for the services they offered.
As I debriefed the trip with the salesperson he felt the trip had been worthwhile and that they will eventually get business from some of the people they talked to. Upon further discussion it was noted that the salesperson felt in his eyes the trip and visits had been a success even though he couldn't say exactly what the purpose had been or whether he had achieved the goal because he hadn't set one.
Remember as I mentioned earlier, the boss was essentially along for the ride to see whether this salesperson had prepared for the trip to make the time beneficial. Depending on who you talk to, there are differing opinions on the success of the trip.
Their next road trip is coming soon and after de-briefing the last trip the salesperson now has developed a plan and he will call in advance to see how many appointments he can set before heading off and hoping for the best.
What can you do to prepare for a road trip to make walk-in calls that are productive?
- Create a plan.
- Determine the purpose.
- Locate the prospective businesses, along with addresses and telephone numbers. Call them to be sure they are located where they say they are or to find out if they're still in business. This is particularly relevant to those people who cover territory in a wide geographical area.
- Call in advance to see if you can set a few appointments.
- Find out who the decision maker is and when a good time would be to visit to ensure they will be there. You may be able to schedule some time with them.
- Be prepared with your 30 second commercial.
- Carry your business cards and brochures if required.
- Set a mini up front contract when you walk in to ensure the unsuspecting business owner understands that you're only asking for the time he/she is prepared to give.
- Don't drop-in expecting to make a sale unless you've spoken to the person previously, qualified them and set a meeting. Scheduling a meeting won't guarantee a sale, but it is the first step in the process.
- De-brief as you leave the business to determine what part of the process worked great and what part maybe wasn't so effective.
- People buy for their reasons, not the salesperson's so remember that just showing up when they aren't expecting you is putting too much pressure on both parties.
- Don't give up.
A road trip to visit new prospects to get business will be more successful if you create a plan and follow it. Are your road trips a good excuse to get out of the office or do you make a plan and establish a purpose?