For far too long we in the sales community have made the conversation and the benefits about us. If you don't believe me, perhaps you should ask yourself when the last time a sales person was welcomed through the door with open arms.
(Article by John Dougan - This is a reprint of an article I published on LinkedIn)
The reason for this is simple. Sales people have always cared more about themselves than the buyer.
Now, up against rapidly evolving and changing buyer behavior, we as sales people look almost archaic. Although processes have remained somewhat consistent our channels of engagement have seen a huge disparity and disconnect - and we're losing.
Why? Firstly we don't play where our customers play! Secondly we rarely think of our products and services in ways that help solve our customer's problems.
Let me expand, research is showing that high performing sales people are now undertaking significant marketing activities as part of their role, around 30% according to some sources. In marketing it is essential to understand the following:
- Who your customers are,
- Where they are, and
- What provokes or persuades them.
As sales people we used to deem this a surplus to the requirements of an already demanding role BUT times have changed and the change has not and is not being controlled by us - rather our empowered and better informed customers.
My advice is simple, if you want to evolve into the next generation of high performing sales people, be prepared to enter a hybrid sphere where you can engage customers earlier and maintain touch points throughout their buying process, not your selling process.
It has been a long standing problem within the sales profession that less capable sales people, usually managing less complex sales, have been pushing on customers the features and advantages of their products. This is likely the cause for the frosty reception and lack of open arms. Thankfully buyer led research and a host of procurement channels are rendering the 'used-car salesman' defunct.
In complex, professional selling - those who are currently sat atop the tree and seen in the best light by customers, are those who put customers first, who provide insight, who find measurable solutions to unrecognized problems or issues, those who make the experience effortless. If you want to be a successful sales person find out how and why your customers are buying and make it easier for them to see how good you are at delivering on their strategic issues and objectives.
Thanks to @AmarSheth for collaborating on this article.
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