Our columnist and author on how tech is helping ‘green up’ the buyer’s journey


The sales industry has become far greener in recent years because of massive advances in technology.

When I started in the 1980s, I would clock up thousands of miles a year driving from door-to-door pushing my wares.

Central to my job was cold calling. I was knocking on doors and pressing the flesh. There was no social media to research target customers, just a phone book.

‘Cold calling’ in that era required an almost superhuman resilience and razor sharp skills to succeed.

Generally, it fell into two categories – a ‘cold’ telephone call or a ‘cold’ visit to a workplace.

Phonecalls were always the hardest – you could always build-up trust more quickly meeting someone in the flesh.

When you rang someone you’d literally got a few seconds to find enough of a commonality with a total stranger to gain their trust enough to keep them on the phone. Your ultimate aim wasn’t – at that point – to get a sale. It was to get a follow up meeting which meant more miles in your car.

The concept sounds totally alien in today’s world obsessed with social media – a world where you can virtually nail down whether a person will be interested in your product with a quick search of Facebook and Instagram.

It’s fair to say the buyer’s journey has been totally and utterly transformed in recent years and, with the rise of AI around the corner, more massive change is yet to come.

It’s a proven fact that it takes 5 to 12 interactions with a target customer to make 98% of sales. But the way these can be made are very different from the pre-digital world.

Interactions – or ‘contacts’ as we call them – can be anything from a target customer reading a blog to a social engagement on one of your posts on LinkedIn.

So much of my work involves coaching people on the importance of adding value in their sales approach.

WOPPA is a simple acronym I use to focus on the important elements of customer interactions and keeps clients on track to achieve your desired outcome.

It breaks down into a list of questions that prepares you for each interaction with a customer. I suggest you use it.

W: Why are you making this call or having this meeting? What is the purpose?

O: What’s the objective of the call?

P: Premise. This is where you bring in the things that you know about the prospect. How did your interaction end last time that is relevant to this interaction?

P: Plan. Okay – it’s a plan within a plan but this is all about your personal preparation. Here you are planning what you will do during the call or meeting.

A: Anticipate. It’s very likely that your prospect will have a lot of questions for you so this is a good time to spend anticipating what they may ask you.