Modern day buyers have gained control over the buying and sales process. With the majority of people having access to Internet, buyers can now search service providers and vendors online, compare prices and functionalities and interact with other potential, previous and current buyers on social media.
This new buyer/seller paradigm has compelled salespeople to understand potential and existing clients’ own needs and goals and how the solutions can help achieve customers’ goals. They have established trust, which is a currency of leadership. When a doctor asks, “Do you exercise? Any history of diabetes?,” you do not give an incorrect answer because you know the doctor is there to help.
When they prescribe medication, you do not negotiate to pick it up the next month but take the doctors’ orders right away. Any client who has ever agreed to taking up a solution trusted the seller not as a salesperson but as an advisor; someone who is looking to add value and offer real help. Modern sales should feel less like a seller-prospect relationship and more like a doctor-patient relationship.
Business acumen and impeccable communication skills have become critical as modern-day sales teams’ ability to close deals demands an understanding of the customer’s journey and to understand how the solutions at hand will advance the potential customer’s own objectives. Sales teams should camouflage themselves and be agile to customers’ preferred language, tone and preferred communication channel.
It is now all about the client, and if they do not understand you, they cannot buy from you. Buyers cannot be expected to understand the salespersons’ solution and how it can help them achieve targets. Instead, the salesperson should understand the buyers’ intentions and objectives and how the solution at hand can help meet the buyers’ objectives.
Sales is a life hack
Sales connects society, exchanges ideas, and advances the way things get done, hence causing innovation. Proficient sales conversations trigger an understanding of other cultures, values, and beliefs in a way that causes the salesperson to have empathy rather than judgment. An idea on its own is a just an idea unless someone finds it a market and convinces others to try a different and better way. Selling is commercial evangelism.
The world has more salespeople than we realise: if you have ever convinced a man or a woman to go on a date with you, you are a salesperson! Congratulations! You successfully positioned yourself as a compelling value proposition to another person such that they imagined themselves sharing their precious commodity, time, with you.
We are all salespeople. Each day we strive to position our value to our friends, families, employers and even on social media platforms. Influencers are salespeople – they have convinced brands that through their following, vast segments can have access to their solutions in a way that may trigger the followers to also become popular.
Without successful salespeople, a business cannot continue to exist and all the wonderful support employees who design, build, provide service, support, account, manage and lead would just have no jobs. Nothing good happens in business until someone sells something. Sales is the ultimate life hack.
Content Creation (leading with value and not products)
Social media has given salespeople an opportunity to be perceived as trusted advisors by their audience. Sales leaders who balance time allocated to prospecting with social media participation have greater rewards.
It is a material fact that the Internet has empowered the modern buyer. A modern demand generation strategy balances interruptive outbound sales with inbound (service driven) sales. Whilst outbound sales remain a relevant as efficient a sales channel, consistent quality content production is a winner. This interruptive channel often saves time and is hassle-free. Organisations may consider aligning their business with the habits of the modern buyer through a frequent online participation in social media where the target buyers and existing buyers are already conversing.
This is inclusive of accessing platforms where clients are congregating, reading their questions and answering their questions by offering them smart solutions through your content. Answer questions, add value, be helpful, and most importantly, provide a call to action to access your solutions. This way all enquiries stand a chance of a 100 percent conversion rate.
Social media participation which results in sales inflows is not a one-way street where a salesperson talks about themselves and their products. Even the best networkers do not show up at an event and talk about themselves. They meet people and ask questions, leave a business card and add value through meaningful conversations.
Customer effort and preferred omnichannel
Everyone has a way in which they prefer to be contacted or engaged. While some people prefer face-to-face interaction, others may prefer voice interactions while the rest prefer text or online shopping. A client who values face-to-face interaction will care about body language and is likely to ask open-ended questions. The physical appearance of a salesperson may matter to this client. These are your brick-and-mortar customers. As organisations continue to innovate on sales channels, they should ensure to provide an inclusive means of facilitating sales to them.
Then there is a client who prefers voice interaction. This one can be reached by an outbound sales consultant. Voice projection of the sales agent remains critical, as do telephone etiquette and security. Organisations should define available omnichannel clearly.
This is the highest form of inclusivity in sales. An online store should prioritise clear visuals with critical specifications and provide alternatives for the client to acquire the service from the same omnichannel and close the sale. An after-sales service from the same channel. Most importantly, do advise on a turnaround time and stick to it. Customer effort should always be in the forefront when offering a service.
Sales team dynamics
In my coaching sessions, I always stress the importance of preparation. Sales teams that diligently prepare for pitches through profiling the prospects have higher chances of closing sales deals. If you are not prepared, do not ask for that meeting or make that outbound call.
I mention coaching because as a sales leader, it is my responsibility to drive team engagement and motivation. Meaningful relationships matter when it comes to sales teams. All great leaders value people. In times of sales adversity and target deficits, relationships are the ultimate gap.
To any salesperson reading this article: Treat selling as the highest of all professions because it is a critical future skill and life hack and thrive in delivering exceptional value for customers and your organisations. Happy selling! May the leads be forever in your favour!
Debbie Khan is Sales Manager – FNBB Sales and Service Contact Centre, Channels, Best Student (Executive MBA Class of 2021, Sheffield University via Botswana Accountancy College)