The sales process is so different today than it was a decade ago, wouldn’t you agree? Not only is there an entirely new set of rules, it’s almost a completely new ballgame. The world has accelerated. Cyberspace moves everything at the speed of light. Technology accelerates things exponentially.
In this ever-changing, fast-paced world, customers are in control. They know how to find the information they seek and are very far along in the buying process before they are interested in sitting through your presentation. Add to that the fact that social selling can be as effective as, and walk hand in hand with, cold-calling almost any day of the week, and now there’s even more to complicate the mix. Can we as salespeople adapt and thrive? Yes, we can! But adapting means accepting that our world will never be the same, controlling what we can, and letting the rest go.
I coach many sales teams as part of the work I do in my practice to help a business grow. In my one-on-one sales coaching, I usually hear “what used to work is no longer effective.” It used to be “easier to get the sale.” Both of these statements are true regardless of whether we sell in B2B or B2C environments. So, I work with salespeople to help them rethink their customer relationships.
The Relationship With Your Customer Matters More Than Ever
The importance of the customer relationship is not decreased by the advancement of technology. If anything, it’s heightened. In a world powered by technology, reputation, personal relationships, and a strong network are the most valuable currencies of all. For many salespeople, having a reputation as a credible subject matter expert and problem solver, forming solid relationships – especially those with high-level decision makers – will be the keys to a business thriving and growing. Current relationships and how you nurture them – and the new relationships you build – those solid relationships will increase the speed-to-market and speed-of-sale, making them an invaluable part of the sales process rather than a dispensable one.
“Sell” Less and Listen More
In today’s fast-paced world, we need to “sell” less, and listen more. We need to have empathy for our customers and be able to walk a mile in their shoes – they are under more pressure than ever for several reasons, including increased competition. We need to help clients problem solve by listening to what they’re experiencing and then figuring out how our product or service can help them. Instead of focusing on communicating product or service benefits and meeting sales quotas (both of which are still important), make time every day to work to build a personal brand and expand a personal network. Focus on finding a point of professional expertise by building knowledge and a reputation supporting it. Think like your customers and understand the challenges they face. Write about those challenges and solutions, talk about them in video or on social channels, present on those topics at industry events – make a name for yourself in your industry. It’s really not all that difficult; you’ve just got to want to do it. I know, I know. I can hear the objections as to how much time that will take. You bet it will take time. But investing that time could mean the difference between just an “okay” sales year and a great sales year!