It's no mystery that sales has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. It's changing faster than it ever has. Whether we like it or not, salespeople are no longer in control. By the time someone fills out a contact form or sends you an email, they may know more about their problem and the available solutions than you do.
This post will walk through how sales has changed and what you as a salesperson can do to catch up.
Salespeople have to accept that they aren't in the driver's seat, and earn the right to sit shotgun. Their job is to guide the buyer along their journey. Today, it’s important for salespeople to be aware that their customers have done prior research before ever picking up the phone or walking into a store. Educated buyers have to be respected. Instead of pressuring buyers with intrusive messages, sales teams should focus on developing relationships with potential buyers by providing solutions to problems that they are facing.
Salespeople have to have their finger on the pulse of the industry they are selling in. Here are some ways to stay informed:
Industry publications: Are there online publiciations in your target industry that you can follow to stay informed? Don't know? Look for articles on industry topics in top news sources like the New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, Inc., and Mckinsey Quarterly. Usually these articles will link to, or cite authoritative industry sources.
Feedly is a great way to organize and read all your subcriptions in one place.
Social media: Linkedin and Twitter are both great places to stay informed. Search for Linkedin influencers that are involved in your industry and follow them. Create a Twitter stream that monitors industry keywords.
Events: Are there industry conventions, tradeshows, workshops, or socials in your area that you can attend? Search engines are your friend on this one.
Become an apprentice marketer: **please resist the strong urge to role your eyes and go about your merry day** The more you understand how people are being attracted your company, the better you can close those people into paying customers. If nothing else, understanding marketing will help you communicate better with your marketing team and coordinate to drive good leads down your funnel.
Staying informed on your industry is only half the battle.
Keep It Personal
At this day in age, there is plenty of information at your finger tips to warm up any cold call. People buy from people they trust. Here are some ways to make sure you know everyone before you pick up the phone:
Social media: Keeping up to date on your industry is only one way you can use social media. Linkedin is a great way to learn a little bit about a prospect and develop some talking points before a call.
A CRM: Things get hectic. Keeping all the stages of a deal, company, and contact information straight, can't be left to your memory. A CRM helps you to keep all sales information in one place, whether that's call notes, company info, deal stage, and more.
Buyer Personas: Segmenting prospects by buyer persona is a great way to make sure your prepared for each call. If you have detailed and upto date personas, they can help you know what a prospect is looking for before even speaking to them.
Today's sales is all about providing value. What content can you share with a prospect that will make their job easier? Whether or not the prospect ends up buying from you, if you provide valuable information, you can set yourself up as a thought leader and can earn a referral.
The hard sell is over. All hail the buyer.