The times they are a changin’ … I’ve been in sales my entire professional career and for the most part, sales was sales. Yes, we went through some minor changes and buzz words but the process was still a process and nothing was that radical. But, today, today it’s so very different and I’m not really sure what the final outcome will be but, I do know it’s all different now. So much so, that it makes me think about how we train new sales people, how do we re-tool the existing, how do we tweak the sales process and how do we stay on top of all these changes?
The first thing that is different – sales people need to be skilled in connecting with people. And I’m not talking about your traditional networking or the old school method of cold calling! No, this is far more in depth and a complete change in thought. I’ve recently done some research on the concept and companies are now hiring what they call “Super Connectors”. Super Connectors are people with more than just a strong social media following and lots of friends. They’re people who are making high-level connections on a regular basis through methodical and well thought out — albeit “simple” — introductions. A connector is someone that almost acts like a broker, putting people together that can help each other or work together in some way. So, it goes against the old networking style of you asking for something – you’re now offering to help others. You know, the Golden Rule. It’s not about you but, how can you help them. There are so many reciprocal benefits to this concept! The law of reciprocity does work. Think about it.
In the consultative sales process the most important step is diagnosing the needs of the buyer. This is assuming that the buyer doesn’t understand their needs. Today, the buyer has the internet – they understand and they know what they want! By the time the buyer talks to a sales person they are more than halfway through the traditional sales process. They’ve already done the research via the web, social media, and their friends on Facebook and received referrals. This “connecting” happens way before the sales process and you need others to connect these buyers to you.
Once the connection has been made the sales person just needs to demonstrate an understanding of their needs. For example, today if we don’t feel well the first thing we do is surf the internet for information. By the time we go to the doctor we have a good idea of what’s wrong, we just need confirmation of our problem, help, guidance and the authority for the prescription! Same goes for your Buyers.
It is now up to your ability to persuade the buyer that you’re the best option because they do have lots of options. I mean, why you? What makes you different? How can you increase my return on investment and minimize my risk at the same time? How can you help me?
The final step is collaboration. This is the new buzz word used in everything but buyers want you to work with them in the process. Educate them. Provide options, alternatives. Acting more as their tour guide.
So what does this mean? How does this change your sales process and where?