The Apple iPhone 4G just hit the market and people all over the world are lining up to get one. The popularity of this smartphone highlights the fact that the way we communicate with our vendors and lessees is changing. Today’s marketplace continues to expand and evolve. As it does, your customers and employees will demand that you rapidly update your communication processes.
There are businesses that still rely on the traditional ways of communications like the use of a land line and using paper for memos and letters, just as they did for years before the information age. Most often these methods do not easily support the level of productivity that growing brokers need. Back in the 1980s, applications came via fax, and vendors were paid by snail mail. Two decades later, many leasing companies still do business this way. Face it, we are in an Internet-based business world and we have so much available to us in the way of technology that we have to take advantage. MSNBC reported that 800 million people access the Internet over their wireless phone. Is your website easy to navigate on a mobile phone? If not, put that on your IT wish list.
Here are some additional ideas to help incorporate the latest technology into your sales toolbox:
Today, most successful leasing companies achieve a high level of productivity and customer support by implementing network-based communications technology. Online options are changing people’s ability to reach larger audiences. Technology has the ability to help businesses find new customers and retain existing ones more efficiently.
The main idea to remember when choosing technology is: will this new communication technology help your business to increase business volume, build relationships and close more sales? One of the best ways leasing companies can generate more sales, create more relationships, be successful, and gain a competitive advantage in what they offer, is simply by using the latest and the greatest communications technology. However, we have to be careful that we don’t get so caught up in technology that we lose sight of critical human interaction.
Constant Partial Attention
It’s rude when people continually look at their mobile phone instead of giving the person they’re with their undivided attention. We know this, yet we still do it. One of my friends will talk to me about cell phone etiquette, and then have her ringer on (very loud) and take multiple calls during a lunch date.
In seminars, people are busy doing other things on their computers while they pretend to pay attention. For example, I facilitated a sales training workshop where a rep was typing on his laptop while I was teaching. His manager told him, in front of everybody, to shut it. He responded that he was taking notes. The manager said he didn’t care and to still shut it.
Was the rep taking notes? Or was he updating his Facebook status? I don’t know.
What I do know is that while the other reps weren’t being as blatant about it, there were times when they didn’t give me their undivided attention. Now, don’t get me wrong, most of the salespeople were actively listening. However, adults are so used to pretending that they are paying attention when they aren’t that they are good at it. If anyone walked into the room they would think that each participant was extremely focused on the material, but if what I’m saying is hitting home then I’m causing them to think about the prospect in need of a follow-up call. The bottom line is most sales reps, like most vendors you call on, are preoccupied.
There was an interesting article in Newsweek that labeled this phenomenon, Continuous Partial Attention (CPA). It’s multiple work distractions such as e-mail, instant messaging, Web surfing, text messaging and cell phones. I find it happening more and more in my seminars. Reps have their Blackberrys on and laptops open in front of them. I am competing for their attention.
But I have to confess, I have a certain fondness for CPA. I like gadgets and I like to play and banter with my friends. It’s hard to just sit here and type this article when I want to play Scrabble on my iPhone.
Think of how many meetings you’ve been in, and you were so bored. You were barely paying attention. I’m sure you looked as if you were paying attention, but your mind was somewhere else.
We can multitask, that’s one of the reasons we do it. A human body can think thoughts, play a piano, sing a song, digest food, eliminate toxins, kill germs, monitor the movement of the stars and carry a new baby all at the same time. In leasing sales, we’re constantly multitasking: conveying approval status, documentation, funding and customer service. We always have many different files in front of us. Each with a different objective.
If CPA is the wave of the future, we should embrace it with prospecting. If you could get semi-successful sales reps to give CPA to their top 20 prospects they would inevitably become more successful.
If you could get struggling reps to give CPA to qualified vendors and then identify their top prospects and keep in touch with them on a continuous partial basis, consistent continuous partial basis, they would stop struggling.
Now you could argue: “To become truly successful you must learn to focus your efforts.” That’s true. If you could get each and every rep to completely focus their efforts, the application volume generated would overwhelm funding sources. But that’s not what happens. A struggling rep is so happy to finally get an application that they put all their effort into convincing a funding source to approve their one deal. They happily take their focus off prospecting.
The semi-successful rep is busy servicing his vendors and lessees, so he puts off prospecting entirely. He gets caught up in the urgent nature of this business and pays no attention to the important but seemingly not so urgent task of prospecting.
A Proposal … Technologically Speaking
I propose a technology transformation. We get the latest technology to communicate with a customer, use continuous partial attention to stay top of mind, break his preoccupation with proper word usage, then keep his attention to create a real relationship.
If we are to build compelling relationships, we have to use techniques that bring us closer to the subtle complexities of human behavior. We need to hear that catch in the prospect’s voice, see the way their eyes glisten, and let them see and hear us. If you want to be more effective, stop hiding behind technology. Use your iPhone to get an appointment and then get out there and see the prospect. Have a real conversation. The worst example of hiding behind technology is when a rep has bad news to convey and they send an e-mail or a text. How is that going to strengthen your relationship? Call the customer and deliver the news yourself.
You don’t have to make big changes to have a technology transformation. All it takes is getting the latest technology to use in your toolbox and balancing those tools with real human interaction and consideration.
If you continually ask your customers, “How may I serve you?” and “How can I help?” and truly listen to the answers without being distracted by technology, then you will grow your business.
Today’s marketplace continues to expand and evolve. As it does, your customers, employees and partners demand more. They require more customized services and products and information delivered quickly. Improving productivity across your business can help you meet this challenge. By making your leasing company more efficient, you can make it easier to respond to changes in the marketplace as they happen. Providing employees with information, devices and gadgets they need to function effectively and training them to stand out in front of technology and build real relationships can go a long way to increasing your sales volume.
Linda P. Kester is a bestselling author and professional speaker with 20 years of experience in leasing sales and marketing management. As founder of the Institute of Personal Development, Kester has helped hundreds of salespeople increase their volume. Her book, 366 Marketing Tips for Equipment Leasing, has produced results for leasing companies in the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia. For more information, visit www.lindakester.com
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