In order to thrive in today’s digitally driven business environment, sales folks need to think and act more like marketers. I suppose to some degree this has always been true, but it is painfully so now that prospects have access to mounds of information, have tools to deflect unwanted sales messages and have the ability to freely publish both flattering and unflattering information about the companies with whom they choose to do business.
So, in order to survive in this new world order salespeople need to take things in their own hands and connect much more deeply with the marketing side of things. I’ve often said that getting marketing and sales on the same page was one of the biggest challenges for departmentalized business, but now it’s become an individual challenge.
In the traditional model marketing owned the message while sales owned the relationship. In the new model there can be little distinction. Marketing must get better at relationship building and sales must get better at message building and delivery.
For the individual salesperson this means the following:
Listening is the new prospecting
While it has become much more difficult to gain access to prospects via phone and email, it’s actually become much easier to understand the individual needs of a prospect due in large part to social media.
Salespeople need to create their own socially driven listening stations via tools such as Trackur and HootSuite. They need to add social profiles in their CRM tools. Then need to create Google Alerts for customers and competitors.
Prospects and customers will voluntarily and publicly scatter sales clues if you listen actively. When you employ a tool like Rapportive you never have to pick up the phone or send an email to a prospect without digesting the last few things they said on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Educating is the new presenting
In days of old salespeople were encouraged to perfect their pitch. They still teach this in many sales training courses. The pitch became little more than they effective manipulation of proven psychological principles and gimmicks.
Today’s salesperson must be ready to teach, publish and demonstrate expertise. Every salesperson should answer questions via blog posts, engage in social media conversations and conduct online and offline seminars.
It is very hard for some to turn the selling off, but the ones that do are reaping the benefits.
Insight is the new information sharing
Our prospects have access to the best information in the world. They have access to all the information we put out, all the information our competitors put out and all the information shared by customers and partners about us and the industry in general.
This collection of information allows them get either very smart about what we are selling or very confused about what we are selling. Today’s salesperson must act as a filter and provide insight about the information.
Today’s salesperson must help the prospect understand the questions they need to consider before providing the answers. Today’s salesperson needs to get very good at helping the prospect aggregate, filter and condense the mass of information.
Storybuilding is the new nurturing
Stories are the greatest relationship builders. Good old Mister Rogers used to say – “It’s hard not to like someone once you know their story.”
Today the job of storytelling is a collaborative one. Salespeople must be able to relate the organization’s core stories to the world of the customer and they must help the customer build a new story that stars them in the leading role in a world where their problems and challenges are a thing of the past.
While this may sound like a nice fairy tale, the fact of the matter is that this is accomplished with proof over promise. Today’s salesperson must actively understand, measure and communicate the real results that clients achieve in every engagement. And they must bring those real-life stories to new customers and prospects.
Relationship building is the new closing
Whenever I hear the word closing all I can think of is Alec Baldwin’s epic speech in the film Glengarry Glen Ross. Well, today’s salesperson must always be building relationships.
Relationship building coupled with education makes traditional closing tactics a thing of the past. But this isn’t simply a call for more schmoozing; this is a call for genuine, mutually beneficial relationship building.
This includes building relationships with referral sources and strategic partners in ways that benefit your best clients as well as your partners. Today’s salesperson must build a relationship platform that allows them to provide introductions to anything that a customer needs to meet their objectives, regardless of how unrelated it may be to the products and services their organization offers.
Today’s salesperson can operate as a one person army, generating their own opportunities, creating their own leads, and taking control of their own direction by effectively applying the tactics of marketing to their proven ability to build relationships.