In order to thrive in today's digitally driven business environment,
sales folks need to think and act more like marketers. I suppose to some
degree this has always been true, but it is painfully so now that
prospects have access to mounds of information, have tools to deflect
unwanted sales messages and have the ability to freely publish both
flattering and unflattering information about the companies with whom
they choose to do business.
So, in order to survive in this new world order salespeople need to
take things in their own hands and connect much more deeply with the
marketing side of things. I've often said that getting marketing and
sales on the same page was one of the biggest challenges for
departmentalized business, but now it's become an individual challenge.
In the traditional model marketing owned the message while sales owned
the relationship. In the new model there can be little distinction.
Marketing must get better at relationship building and sales must get
better at message building and delivery.
For the individual salesperson this means the following:
Listening is the new prospecting
While it has become much more difficult to gain access to prospects via
phone and email, it's actually become much easier to understand the
individual needs of a prospect due in large part to social media.
Salespeople need to create their own socially driven listening stations
via tools such as Trackur and HootSuite. They need to add social
profiles in their CRM tools. Then need to create Google Alerts for
customers and competitors.
Prospects and customers will voluntarily and publicly scatter sales
clues if you listen actively. When you employ a tool like Rapportive
you never have to pick up the phone or send an email to a prospect
without digesting the last few things they said on Facebook, Twitter
Educating is the new presenting
In days of old salespeople were encouraged to perfect their pitch. They
still teach this in many sales training courses. The pitch became
little more than they effective manipulation of proven psychological
principles and gimmicks.
Today's salesperson must be ready to teach, publish and demonstrate
expertise. Every salesperson should answer questions via blog posts,
engage in social media conversations and conduct online and offline
It is very hard for some to turn the selling off, but the ones that do are reaping the benefits.
Insight is the new information sharing
Our prospects have access to the best information in the world. They
have access to all the information we put out, all the information our
competitors put out and all the information shared by customers and
partners about us and the industry in general.
This collection of information allows them get either very smart about
what we are selling or very confused about what we are selling. Today's
salesperson must act as a filter and provide insight about the
Today's salesperson must help the prospect understand the questions
they need to consider before providing the answers. Today's salesperson
needs to get very good at helping the prospect aggregate, filter and
condense the mass of information.
Storybuilding is the new nurturing
Stories are the greatest relationship builders. Good old Mister Rogers
used to say – "It's hard not to like someone once you know their
Today the job of storytelling is a collaborative one. Salespeople must
be able to relate the organization's core stories to the world of the
customer and they must help the customer build a new story that stars
them in the leading role in a world where their problems and challenges
are a thing of the past.
While this may sound like a nice fairy tale, the fact of the matter is
that this is accomplished with proof over promise. Today's salesperson
must actively understand, measure and communicate the real results that
clients achieve in every engagement. And they must bring those
real-life stories to new customers and prospects.
Relationship building is the new closing
Whenever I hear the word closing all I can think of is Alec Baldwin's epic speech in the film Glengarry Glen Ross. Well, today's salesperson must always be building relationships.
Relationship building coupled with education makes traditional closing
tactics a thing of the past. But this isn't simply a call for more
schmoozing; this is a call for genuine, mutually beneficial
This includes building relationships with referral sources and
strategic partners in ways that benefit your best clients as well as
your partners. Today's salesperson must build a relationship platform
that allows them to provide introductions to anything that a customer
needs to meet their objectives, regardless of how unrelated it may be
to the products and services their organization offers.
Today's salesperson can operate as a one person army, generating their
own opportunities, creating their own leads, and taking control of
their own direction by effectively applying the tactics of marketing to
their proven ability to build relationships.