Posts Tagged ‘sales has not changed’

Really, Sales Has Changed? Poppycock!

There appears to be a lot of angst in the sales world if you read some of the more popular postings by noted sales experts to consultants. In many cases, there is an ever increasing school of thought that suggests sales has changed and this is utter poppycock. Note: I just did a quick search on the phrase “sales has changed” in Google and received 58,500 hits.

sales-has-changedPossibly the reason for this confusion is the word “sales” is substituted for a variety of other terms such as:

  • Sales process
  • Selling
  • Marketing
  • Prospecting (which is marketing)
  • Completed transaction

The Real Change Reality

No sales has not changed. Let me repeat, sales has not changed.  There is a buyer who has a want reinforced by a need with an allocated budget. He or she is seeking a solution to address that want and need. This has always been the case.

What has changed is the buyer and specifically his or her buying behaviors. Today’s buyers are better educated (for the most part). The Internet through smart devices has provided them an immediate encyclopedia of information about:

sales-has-changed

  • Solutions
  • Salespeople
  • Companies
  • Investment (Price)
  • Deliveries
  • Outcomes

All these now better educated buyers can be viewed as an competitive advantage or disadvantage.

Better Educated – A Competitive Advantage

When buyers are better educated, this provides additional opportunities for you as the salesperson to connect to their value drivers as well as psychographics (the why behind the buying decision).  During your fact finding conversations, you can apply active listening skills and further determine what the qualified potential client (sales lead) is really seeking.

If any of the sales research is accurate about the buying decision being anywhere from 40% to 60% completed before you as the salesperson are contacted, then this suggests through your marketing, something resonated with the sales lead.

Better Educated – A Competitive Disadvantage

With better educated buyers, salespeople can no longer presume they know what the qualified potential customer or client wants. What worked in earning the sale with Client A may not work with Client B. The sales process from that first initial contact to earning the sale may now be longer or shorter depending upon the complexity of the buyer’s organization and the dollar value of the actual transaction.

Poor marketing now becomes a competitive disadvantage because you, your firm and your solutions are not being researched by your potential ideal customer.  You may have the best price, the best solution and the best results but you will remain undiscovered and pocket poor unless your ideal customers know about you. This is why having a strong Internet presence including social media is essential.

What To Do

sales-has-changedFirst, if your sales leads are better educated, then consider returning to the first phase of the sales process and that is marketing.  Make sure your marketing message is consistent throughout your organization. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Marketing is not selling; selling is marketing.

Second, ask for referrals from existing clients who have already experienced you, your company and your solutions.  What continues to amaze me is how many salespeople especially within small businesses (under 50 employees) fail to ask for qualified referrals from existing clients.

Third, change your belief about sales has changed and then change your actions.  An educated buyer works with you and does make selling a whole heck of a lot easier.  By having a belief of fear (you fear an educated buyer), only works against you. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Leave your ego at the door.

Now you must become more educated about your sales lead.  Research that business, the current industry trends,  the buyer, and others associated with this sales lead.  Talk to your own network to gain greater information and insight. Show up to that meeting quietly prepared and then actively listen to what is being said and what is not being said.

Finally, ignore what those experts who advocate sales has changed.  Consider accepting the fact that sales has not changed and there is no magic pill nor ever was one to earn that customer. Remember the words of Peter Drucker who believed and stated:

Business has only two functions marketing and innovation

The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Leanne Hoagland-Smith supports forward thinking leaders in bridging the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals in the key areas of strategic growth, people development and process improvement. She speaks and writes specifically to small businesses under 50 employees whose challenges are more unique and resources more limited. Leanne can be reached at 219.508.2859 central time.  Follow her on Twitter or check out her profile on LinkedIn.

 

 

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