The way we do business has evolved. Have You? Prospective Buyers are armed to the teeth with information. They're empowered, savvy, and don't have time for your canned, scripted sales pitch. Here's How To Evolve...
The sales environment has changed on every level - from the Retail Floor to the Enterprise Board Room. There are three core drivers of change when you boil it all down: People, Technology and Information. All three influence one another and they impact sales in a huge way. People are hyper-connected by technology and have an endless supply of information at their fingertips. It's vital to evolve as sales professionals because in the modern era only one type of sales position will grow over the next decade. Research from SAP, Forrester and Sales for Life anticipate that all the order takers, explainers and navigators in the sales world will be getting more and more pink slips. It's expected that up to 40% of companies that don't transform their sales approach will be dead in the next 10 years!
In a Forrester report, 59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep because the rep pushes a sales agenda rather than helps solve a problem. Prospective buyers want real value, not a self serving pitch and company overview highlighting all the great features and benefits that everyone loves!!!!! That's what the internet is for. The majority of buyers want to work with a professional who demonstrates that they understand them and their pain, a trusted consultant to help them discover new ideas and make well-informed buying decisions to get the end results they want and deserve.
The only sales position expected to grow over the next decade is the Sales Consultant. Here are 6 things you can do to avoid extinction and evolve as a Modern Sales Consultant!
- Communicate Better: How deep is your understanding of why people buy and why buyers and sellers behave the way that they do? To understand others we must first understand ourselves. Frankly, it’s the first step to becoming a true sales professional and trusted consultant. David Sandler always touted the importance of spending as much time as you can learning about people and human behavior. Selling is Human. It’s simply a series of conversations and interactions between two or more parties. If you want better sales results, learn how to be a better communicator. Here are some of the areas to study and practice to become a better communicator: Active Listening & Participation, Behavioral Assessments based on the DISC Model, Psychological Models (T/A), Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Elements of Communications, OK/Not OK Theory, Primary Sensory Dominance, Neuro Linguistic Programming..
- Embrace Technology & Social: 84% of CEO's and VP's use social media to make purchasing decisions. Are you and your people visible, or thought leaders that are staying top of mind? Best of breed sales organizations aren't afraid of social selling, technology and software like CRM's, sales automation and acceleration tools. Don't be afraid to invest some time and dollars into tools like Sales Navigator. I personally have generated a 15x return on my sales navigator investment from one insight, that turned into one piece of closed business. Social selling tools and other software can give you access to information that would have cost an absolute fortune just a decade ago. However, don't go broke by getting sucked into the weeds on social and other technology. It should not be used as a crutch to real conversations, it should be a means to an end.
- Align Sales & Marketing: I believe the best sales pros are great marketers. Prospecting for new sales leads is not a selling activity, it's a marketing activity if we want to get technical. A DemandGen report found that nearly 70% of buyers have increased the amount of content used to research and evaluate their purchases. Decision makers consume a lot of content before and during the sales process, that’s why it’s critical for Sales and Marketing to have a close relationship to assure content is leveraged effectively. There should be regular meetings with the boots on the ground to understand the mind of the customer to ensure messaging is consistent and resonates with decision makers. I have seen some sales leaders require that their sales reps blog on relevant topics and questions they hear in the field.
- Pre-Call Preparation: Our prospects know a lot about us, how much do we know about them and their organization? Our Buyers are researching our products, services, pricing, competition, reviews and content. They expect you to know their world, so do your homework. Before every call do you know: The Purpose of it? How you will bond and build rapport with the prospect? What their behavioral style might be? What the prospect wants to talk about and what questions they may ask? What you want to talk about and what questions you will ask? What will be the possible outcomes? If we're not establishing these elements upfront, who is leading the sales process? Leverage the power of the internet and social media, just like your prospects do to learn all you can about them. (Note: Avoid analysis by paralysis when it comes to prospecting behavior)
- Deliberate Practice - Selling is a lot like Golf, you have to practice to be a pro! Practice is hitting your 7 Iron 50 Times. Deliberate Practice is hitting your 7 Iron 50 times within 10 yards of the pin. Deliberate Practice requires a specific goal and expectation, which forces you to debrief and adjust based on the result. When was the last time your practiced your sales craft relative to a specific technique or situation in your sales process? Be Honest, Practicing on your Prospects doesn’t count. In my experience, the average sales rep or organization doesn’t practice consistently, if at all. Top performing sales producers and organizations do practice, they do it often and with purpose. What are your everyday drills and areas in your sales process that need to be continually rehearsed with your peers? There is a right way and a wrong way to practice, or role play sales scenarios. Read and Listen to our podcast, How to Succeed at Role Play, to learn more.
- Defined Sales Process and Selling System: If you don't have a defined sales process and system for selling you will by default follow your prospect's process. That's in no ones' best interest. Most sales frustrations are a result of a deficiency in the process. For instance, most people will say they have issues closing and want to work on their presentation and closing skills. When in fact, a poor closing ratio is systematic of not having a system to qualify or disqualify prospects earlier on in the sales process. Think about how buyers buy, or how you buy for that matter. What's your sales process from taking a prospect from Hello to Yes or No? What are the big picture steps? What information do you need to move the process forward? Having a process will allow you to be more scientific and pin point the steps that may be tripping you up so you can adjust for more favorable results.
If you want different results, behave differently. Some will evolve, some won't. That's nature, but the choice is yours if you want to survive. Begin to chip away at these 6 ways to evolve and you will be a valued sales professional long after the machines take over.