As the world has evolved, how has it affected that most traditional of exchanges: the purchasing decision between a customer and a salesperson? With technology on the rise, and customers savvier and more connected than ever, the old school salesperson knocking on doors has run its course. But how do you take your sales approach into the present, or even race into the future?
Over dinner with a friend, we discussed how the company she worked for wasn’t seeing the predicted growth they expected. Despite employing a new Sales Director, new KPI’s, whilst largely being met, weren’t converting leads. A common challenge seen by many.
The thing is, the world has fundamentally changed, traditional sales tactics no longer work. Hitting your targets for numbers of calls and meetings isn’t enough. Information is readily available, and customers are smarter and more demanding than ever. They are making more informed sole purchasing decisions, and the role of an in-person sales presence is becoming increasingly obsolete. As tech advances, more companies are championing a “person free” sales experience and we are falling more and more into the virtual realm. So how can we slow this process and find a way to take back the reigns of Customer interactions? And how can sales teams find a way to reconnect with customers and reinforce their presence, reaffirming their role within the buying process?
A new charger – competencies for the modern salesperson
I’m a people person, nothing beats face to face communication, and in my view sales teams are still needed, but they need to evolve rapidly. They need to develop and hone a unique set of competencies that will introduce them as a new type of modern, connected salesperson.
They need to proactively collaborate. Provide customers with focused solutions which pre-empt opportunities and challenges.
They need emotional intelligence. To be able to connect to customers, by demonstrating the ability to listen and act accordingly.
They must have their finger on the pulse. Regularly seeking new insights and knowledge that will feed into customer interactions, building trust, and leading to greater customer loyalty and retention.
They need to be confident but not arrogant. Be able to prove their track record of knowledge and accomplishments, and successfully marrying business products and services to customer demands and opportunities. They will position themselves as a critical partner to a customer’s success.
Everyone loves a good story. So, they must come armed with a rich variety of anecdotes and case studies that demonstrate similar challenges, success and pain points.
They must read the room. Be able to adapt their style, delivery and offering to really resonate and initiate the right kind of conversations.
So how could this help my friend and the challenges her company faced? Granted, some of their sales team naturally possess these competencies, but others, like many, need more support to survive in today’s world.
Getting out of the stalls – preparing your sales business for success
We recognise that the level of knowledge and skills within her organisations is really polarised. Undertaking a gap analysis, they would be able to identify areas of weakness and begin to identify how these gaps could be plugged. I suggested she ran some deep dive sessions with key sales personnel to understand their pain points, it’s important to know what they are missing and more importantly what their customers are missing.
With clear areas for development, we discussed introducing a baseline of knowledge. This would ensure that all the sales team are brought up to a certain level which could be built upon over time. Underpinning this would be the roll out of a new suite of tools and materials that would inspire, educate and equip the sales team. This would guarantee uniform delivery across the company but also ensure they have the insights and knowledge to build trust and customer loyalty.
We spoke about building a community, we are now more connected but at the same time more isolated. We are social animals and want to feel part of a pack. Regular opportunities to come together, to share success stories (and losses) and best practice will inspire, motivate and build confidence. And finally, we discussed how important it is to reward and recognise those that have done well. It boosts morale, engages all and encourages some healthy competition.
I’m not sure where the next 5 years will take us, but I hope sales teams across the globe, including my friends, are making the changes. For us at The Maverick Group, it’s beyond a hope but rather something we’re working on every day; helping some of the world’s biggest companies implement sales programs that grasp new ways of working, use exciting new channels and help them sell like never before.
If your business needs some support on supercharging your sales approach, get in touch with us – we’d love to help.