I Worked a Mall Kiosk for 2 Years. Here’s Everything I Learned About Selling.

Frontline sales managers are always looking for innovative ways to generate leads. Let me tell you: Nothing drives innovation like the hardest sales job in the world.

And I know that from experience.

As a young PhD, I left a secure medical research position because I did not want to die wondering what else was out there — and plunged into the world of face-to-face sales.

I left a secure medical research position because I did not want to die wondering what else was out there to experience.

That’s right. For two years, I did face-to-face lead generation at shopping mall kiosks for a home improvement company (first year selling, second year managing the team).

We set up our demo products — roller shutters, outdoor decks, artificial lawn installation and fibreglass swimming pools — in high-foot-traffic areas in the middle of busy shopping malls. We had 4 hours per shift to generate two qualified leads in that block of time.

So, the pressure was on to meet the target and get the job done!

Here’s what I learned: my 13 tips for success for face-to-face lead generation — plus, how they can help sellers in any field.

My Personal 13 Tips for Face-to-Face Lead Generation Success

1. Set your intention

Prepare yourself physically and mentally even before you start your shift. Check your self-talk; put yourself in a good place mentally and expect to have a good day at the “office.”

Avoid having the news on when driving to your gig. Nothing kills the positive energy more than listening to the news.

Instead have your favourite upbeat music that gets you in a good mood.

Most people are not aware of the energy they project which can affect other people with whom they interact. We all have felt either uplifted or drained after a brief chat with a friend or family member. It’s no accident why that happens.

As the lead generator, you have a responsibility to turn up in a good frame of mind. This sets the tone for the rest of your shift.

If you are in a bad mood, you will be lucky to have a prospect approach you let alone give you their full name, address and cell phone number. These were the minimum details the company I worked for would accept as a qualified lead.

Similarly when you turn up with a sunny disposition and expect to have a good day, it usually turns out that way.

2. Take pride in your demo

Okay, so you’ve arrived at your gig for your shift. I used to start mine by wiping down the counter, straightening the product brochures and making sure all the demo products were in place. This sends a message that you care about what you do and take pride in representing your company.

Take pride in what you’re putting forward. Customers notice more than you think.

Never underestimate the power of doing this — understand that members of the public you think are just casually strolling around are in most cases observing your actions.

They are forming opinions about whether you are the type of person they just might want to chat with about getting some home improvement done (or not!).

The same is true for sellers in SaaS or any other industry. Take pride in what you’re putting forward. Customers notice more than you think.

3. Pay attention

In the shopping mall setting, you need to look busy and interested at your kiosk. Greet and say hello to the public as they are passing by your demo stand.

It pays to observe the body language of the members of the public strolling around you and look for opportunities to start a conversation.

If you see someone who shows some interest in the demo products, don’t wait for them to come up and talk to you. Your job as the lead generator is to start the conversation.

The ideal time to engage in conversation is when they show interest in your products. How do you know this?

In the face-to-face setting of a shopping mall, people tend to slow down as they are walking past your display and look at a product they are interested in. This is the best time to make eye contact. Remember to smile!

If it was a lady with her kids in tow, I’d talk to the kids and ask if mum was taking them to the ice cream parlour. The mum would usually laugh. This broke the ice.

How this translates to SaaS and other industries: Look for buyer signals — you don’t even need fancy tech to do it.

Bonus: Learn how to use common tools, like LinkedIn and the Fortune sheet, to spot opportunities to lean in! Use These 5 Unconventional Sales Signals to Create Stickier Deal Cycles

4. Make the first move

Have product brochures and flyers with you to hand over to your interested prospect. Once you know your target audience, you can begin to tailor your lead capture process specifically for them.

This may include using an iPad or tablet to collect contact information on the spot, providing a giveaway (e.g., pen, notepad, stress ball), or asking qualifying questions.

How this translates to SaaS: Align with your marketing team to have fresh, topical collateral ready to go.

Gifting is also a great way to stand out — check out this webinar, ️Nerf Guns & a Rack of Ribs: Customer Gifts that Cut Through the Noise.

5. Identify your prospect’s pain points

The first and most important step in a face-to-face lead generation strategy is to ask relevant questions. You can do this by asking what problems they’re trying to solve with your product/service.

How often have they visited similar stores like the company you are representing? What other brands are they considering?

Learn more: 4 Tips For Building a Customer-Centric Sales Process

6. Capture the lead with fair exchange

Lead capture: A way to collect information from a lead.

Information may include the lead’s name and contact information as well as relevant qualifying details about their interest in your product or service.

Fair exchange: I give you a free sample and you give me your contact details. This is no different from the giveaways of online marketers who offer an ebook that prospective customers download in exchange for a name and email address.

7. Build rapport by asking questions

Another great strategy is to use open-ended questions. Ask your potential leads about their interests and what they do for a living.

This will help you build rapport quickly and gain their trust. People love talking about themselves, so let them do most of the talking!

  • This increases the chances of your sales team being successful because you can use those personal interactions as an opportunity to make the best impression possible on each individual lead. The most effective face-to-face lead generation strategies involve building relationships with prospects over time through direct communication at different stages in their buying journey (i.e., awareness, consideration, decision).
  • Listen carefully. When the customer is talking, make sure to actively listen and not just wait for your turn to speak. This will show that you are interested in what they have to say; make a note of the pain points they are telling you. It will help you understand their needs better.

Learn the right questions to ask:

8. Use positive reinforcement

Compliment people on their attire or accomplishments and make sure that your tone of voice is warm and friendly. Find the right balance as otherwise it comes across as insincere (and a bit creepy!). These are great ways of getting people to open up about themselves.

  • Be friendly and personable. This stops them getting the feeling you are using hard sell tactics. Make sure to smile, use people’s names, and ask them about their interests. (I used to discreetly scribble their name on my hand. I would then casually address them by their name during our conversation). This will help build rapport quickly, and make the customer more likely to do business with you.

Get more tips: Our Step-by-Step Guide to Building Rapport With Customers

9. Work on your body language

Your posture and facial expressions can communicate a lot about how confident or nervous you are. Make sure to stand up straight, and keep your shoulders back and your head up. Smile naturally, and make eye contact with the person you are speaking to.

People like people who agree with them — this can be a verbal reinforcement of a point they just made or very subtly mirroring and matching their posture. (This is a whole discussion in itself!)

Learn more about mirroring: 5 Psychology Tips From An FBI Hostage Negotiator That Will Make You Sell Better

Make sure you do not have physical barriers such as a sales counter between you and your prospect. Walk around the counter and put yourself on the same side but at a 45 degree angle to them. Otherwise you are facing off and this can feel confrontational.

10. Maintain good personal hygiene

Handshakes and eye contact are a must when meeting new people in person. If you’ve just had lunch then make sure your hands aren’t greasy or smell strongly of food residue. Avoid wearing strong colognes or aftershave that can be overpowering!

(Honestly, this is a good tip for anything in life, not just sales!)

11. Know it’s not personal

One of my biggest challenges as manager was staff retention-the churn through of lead generators made it feel like a revolving door.

I found that lead generation is a mind game and being able to handle rejection well is a personality trait that separates the successful lead generators from the rest of the pack.

Over time I noticed that the people who quit when the going got tough did not have a healthy sense of self esteem. You have to be able to handle rejection.

Read: Overcoming Sales Rejection: How To Turn Failure Into Opportunity Every Single Time

Over time I noticed that the people who quit when the going got tough did not have a healthy sense of self esteem. You have to be able to handle rejection.

If the prospect says no, don’t take it personally – just move on to the next prospect walking past your display stand.

I am an introvert by nature. I found that putting myself out there as a lead generator got me over the fear of rejection. It is the most liberating feeling!

12. Analyze your interactions with prospects

Afterwards, you should examine what the interaction with your prospect was like. You should take notes immediately after they’ve moved away from your display stand.

At the end of the day, be honest and ask yourself if you did all the right things (listed above). If hand on heart you answered yes, then accept that you will have a “bad” day in the office ever so often.

The question is — will you take the failure personally, or bounce back?

13. The follow-up

The fortune is in the follow-up. Follow-up with each potential customer after the event. This will help you keep track of who is interested in your product or service and who isn’t, as well as what their needs are.

Read: Sales Follow Up Email Templates (+12 Tips for Smart Salespeople)

Bonus tip: Is it rejection? Or are they just not ready to buy now?

Keep in mind that not all leads are ready to buy at the same time. Some may be just starting their research, while others may be close to making a purchase. That’s why it’s important to have multiple lead generation strategies in place so you can reach out to prospects at different stages of the buying process.

In order for face-to-face lead generation to be successful, you need to have a well-thought-out plan and stay organized. Keep track of your leads in a CRM (customer relationship management) system and use marketing automation tools to send out targeted content at the right time.

Conclusion

Even as people are getting increasingly interested in online shopping, all sellers can benefit from honing their face-to-face lead generation skills. In-person meetings provide something not available at a Zoom meeting: a human connection. Body language, small-talking or clear communication can improve business effectiveness.

You should now have a deep understanding of how to generate leads in a face to face situation using these strategies. Remember that lead generation takes time, so be patient and don’t give up. You do not need to convince people who are not ready to buy.

The more you practice, the better you will become at it. And who knows – maybe one of these strategies will help you close your next big sale!


Edited by Kendra Fortmeyer @ Sales Hacker 2022

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