The art of selling has evolved tremendously over the last few years. This is in large part because markets have immediate and deep access to the kind of information once delivered as a primary function of the selling process.
Selling has always required dexterity, and successful sales professionals have always practiced this, but today’s sales environment demands that a sales professional also develop and practice disciplines more closely aligned with traditional marketing and customer service practices in addition to becoming an educator in the sales process.
Today’s sales superstars attract, teach, convert, serve and measure while developing an individual brand that stands for trust and expertise.
The following six disciplines make up the necessary traits of the new sales professional.
1) Community building
In the past all the focus was given to the prospect, the one most likely to buy today. Today’s sales professional understands that the larger community dictates ultimate success. By focusing a great deal of attention on “educating” decision makers at every level, building strategic networks and referral partners, and connecting people in ways that lead to no direct benefit, value is created. Delivering value to a growing community is your number one job.
2) Lead defining
Instead of sitting back and waiting for company defined leads to “request more information,” today’s sales professional understands how to define and attract ideal leads often challenging the assumed notions sent up by the marketing department. By narrowly defining what makes an ideal lead, a sales professional can create processes for both finding and standing out with this narrow group. Lead defining can be done across demographics, but it is done most profitably when you can define a behavior that is unique. For example, skeptics often make great leads when understood. What uncommon notion can you challenge when it comes to defining your ideal prospect?
3) Difference making
Markets are often very attracted to companies that stand for something greater than a group of products. Sales professionals can benefit by connecting with their own passion and purpose and using that as part of their story. Getting crystal clear on your own value proposition as well as that of your organization is how you create leverage in a highly competitive sales environment. What difference can you actually make in the lives of your clients?
4) Channel guiding
The concept of the sales funnel is so limiting in today’s sales environment that we need to replace if with something far more representative of the entire picture. Think of moving prospects through a logical set of 7 channels – know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer – the sales and marketing hourglass. When you create sales and marketing processes designed to guide prospects logically down this path, future lead generation becomes the natural outcome of a happy customer.
5) Reputation building
Let’s face it, all things being even we prefer to do business with people we know, like and trust. In today’s online world trust building means something entirely different than it once did – or at the very least it means something much more expansive. Today’s sales professional must build an online and offline reputation in much the same way as one thinks about building a brand. When a prospect is considering a purchase the reputation of a sales representative for delivering value and the social proof that lends to this reputation is increasingly crucial.
6) Inbound attracting
Teaching sells today. Today’s sales professional attracts leads, community and opportunities by publishing educational content. While some marketing departments and sales managers might object to the very idea of this, sales professionals often have far greater insight into the actual world and challenges of the clients they serve and can raise their level of perceived value and expertise by addressing the questions, problems and challenges through blogging, curating and speaking. What sales professional would you choose when you did a search? One with a nice LinkedIn profile or the one that shows up in a search with Google Authorship authority for the very challenge you hope to address?
These disciplines can be taught, but the traits needed to multitask in this manner are not the same ones associated with the typical outgoing salesperson. The ability to relate to a client is essential, but the ability to write, analyze, network, share, speak and measure may be found in a different make up altogether.