I once had a sales manager who used to say you've got to "see 'em to sell 'em". These days, whether we like it or not, a number of factors collude to make it either impractical or not financially viable to "go see 'em" higher volumes, lower margins, geography for example.
Demographics play a part too there is a generation of B2B buyers out there who have been brought up on cell phones, the Internet, facebook, twitter, ebay et al, and they really don't feel the need to deal with sales people face to face.
The challenge of getting your sales message over (especially for more complex products such as software, consultancy, financial services) still requires a consultative, solution sales approach.
So here are a few pointers
1. When you get a lead or a download trial from your website don't launch straight into a sales call do your research, is the enquirer the decision maker, could you call someone else higher to see if this is a real opportunity and check things out [discreetly] before you speak to the enquirer?
2. Do a good discovery / needs analysis job before you present or demo your product, use the demo / presentation to prove the case not open the sale.
3. Don't send your proposal too early, get all the decision makers and influencers lined up and present your proposal to them DON'T SEND IT- you can do this online.
4 Above all stay in control don't get rushed into selling and presenting too early and to the wrong people just because its all being done on the telephone.
We came across a great product recently, we use tools such as Webex and Adobe Connect but we have found the killer app is this space Vonei Meeting. Its a great system you can talk, present share screens and documents but where Vonei Meeting is really different is with its video capability. The video is "many to many" rather than presenter to many so everyone can see everyone on the call. The user interface and connection is simplicity itself AND you don't have to mess with client software on your PC. (Go try out Vonei Meeting and mention Ian Farmer!)
Vonei Meeting is great because you can see the prospect's reactions, its more personal, you can gauge their "buy in".
We have helped a large number of clients (such as Oracle, BEA Systems, Orange, Embarcadero Technology, TeamStudio) to develop their "solution selling by telephone" skills and processes. Tools like Vonei Meeting are going to make telephone selling even more viable and productive.
Heh.... perhaps we can "see 'em to sell 'em" after all!
Good luck, good selling!