Periodically, I enjoy getting to better know the operations of our company by spending a day with subject matter experts at Alpheus. Yesterday, I tagged along with a direct sales representative for a day of cold calling in one of our fiber-connected buildings.
I began the day putting together collateral materials alongside my sales partner, Kyle Tschudy. Kyle has only been with Alpheus for six months, but spent five years at Cbeyond both as an individual contributor and a sales manager. He is a skilled salesman with a thick skin for dealing with rejection and is hungry for success – all key ingredients for achieving the monthly quota levels our company requires. Our target for the day was a skyscraper with newly constructed fiber connections from Alpheus. We had many floors of target-rich businesses that we could entice with our service bundles at attractive price points, supported by exceptional customer care. Our strategy was to begin on the top floor and work our way down, floor by floor.
Our first prospect was a beautifully furnished law firm with two receptionists. We announced we were from Alpheus and asked to see the IT manager. They said he was out but offered to open up the utility closet for us. Seemed a bit odd until they informed us the law firm was already a customer of Alpheus and they were very happy with our service. Attempting to be nimble, Kyle and I pivoted and concluded with we were just making a house call to make sure they were happy with their service. In the end I believe they were mildly impressed that the CEO would go to such a length to make sure they were happy with their service. In hindsight, Alpheus has three existing customers in the building. We just happened to stumble on one right out of the gate. The good news is there were 100 other opportunities in the building. Time to move on.
In our next encounter, we were able to meet the IT director without much waiting, a rare occurrence. We spent 45 minutes with him talking about telecom, weather and sports. He informed us the term of his telecom agreement expires in one month and he would welcome our participation in the bidding process. It went as good as any cold call could go, and we were both feeling our oats. As the day went on we were greeted by mostly friendly people (we’re in Texas after all), but gained little traction. We did collect business cards and information for follow-up calls and future appointments. We left our business cards and company brochures where appropriate with the hope they would reach the IT directors desk. Now we are hopeful they will see the merits of our value proposition and that they will reach out to us. Direct sales is really a numbers game. The more contacts one makes the more appointments are scheduled. More appointments means more closed sales.
I came away thinking that the business of direct sales is a bit of a lost art. It requires a special person with unique skills. When it’s good, it can be a real rush, uncovering opportunities and signing up new customers. And when rejection is consistent, it can make for a long day/week. Because direct sales is a crucial element of our go-to-market strategy, I’m more mindful to keep our sales organization pumped up. There are those days they really need it.
Scott Widham, CEO Alpheus Communications