Last week I wrote about what I called the Disciplines of the New Sales Professional. What I was describing more than anything was a mindset shift or maybe even the strategic approach to sales that must exist these days.
What I want to address today are the practices, some not always associated with sales jobs, required to excel in the new sales environment.
If last week’s post was the strategy, this is the tactics. These are the skills that sales professionals will need to acquire and that organizations need to support, train and look for in their sales teams.
1) Create a platform
It’s no longer enough to be a part of the brand; today’s salesperson needs to take charge of his or her own platform. This means creating an online presence that includes content, SEO, email marketing, social media and maybe even awareness advertising. These are the building blocks for creating an online reputation and community and moves beyond simply completing network profiles.
2) Become an authority
One of the most important ways to shift the context of the sales job is to build an expertise and reputation for sharing useful information. This is how you start the process of being invited to share your ideas before your competition knows there is an opportunity. You do this by authoring educational articles, speaking at industry and community events and even facilitating things like Google+ Hangout discussions among customers and prospects.
3) Mine networks
The new suite of online tools make it much easier to listen to entire markets and drill down and discover invaluable intelligence such as what people lack, who they report to, and what their objectives for the year are. Sales people must get very good at listening for clues and mining networks to create interdepartmental relationships and to connect the dots between who needs help and who they can help.
4) Build problems
Prospects have gotten very good at figuring out solutions to the problems they’ve identified due in large part to access to unprecedented amounts of data and information available online. Today’s sales professional has to get good at understanding and building cases for problems that the market doesn’t yet know exist. This is a skill that comes from helping customers think bigger about what’s possible first and foremost.
5) Finish the sale
I’ve always contended that a sale is not a sale until the customer receives a result. This mindset means that you have to get involved in the experience, before, during and after the commitment or sales is made. Staying connected in this manner is also how you get more referrals and better understand the needs of a client going forward.
6) Measure results
It’s amazing how much more convincing someone is when they truly believe in something. I’ve found that salespeople who have trouble asking for referrals or making sales in general often don’t fully understand or believe in the value their products and service deliver. When you help your client determine and understand the ultimate results they derive, after the sale, you gain a measure of poster that moves beyond confidence and into something more like certainty.
7) Balance energy
Time management is almost passé in a conversation about these new tactics. Traditional sales tactics amounted to pounding the phones and tracking numbers. Obviously, many of the practices I’ve deemed essential will need to draw from areas that have not always been considered selling activities. Today’s sales professional has to make space for strategies and tactics, for time and energy needed to focus on publishing, speaking and serving clients. This requires and new way of thinking about how time and energy is allocated and it takes a great deal of stamina.
There’s no question that what I’m describing is going to require a new view of the role of a sales professional. This view will require that organizations hire differently, train differently and measure differently in order to change the context of selling internally and externally.
This view will require marketing departments that enable sales teams to act a lot more like marketers.