It’s time to change the way we sell. The old product-centric approach is a time of the past. It’s old school. Who cares about product features? Do you? Do your prospects? I doubt it. Tell me how this solution is going to help me.
What selling approach do you use? Do you send emails that talk about you and your company? How many emails do you send to prospects asking for 15 minutes on their calendar — hundreds? How is it working out for you? Are you a rep that adds Calendly to your email signature hoping a prospect will book an appointment with you? How is that going? What is your engagement rate?
How many emails do you send out daily that end up being block, labeled as spam, or possibly having your company domain blocked? I bet plenty. I would block you. You bet the recipient of your email has blocked you after one or two emails.
Do you know why they blocked you? They blocked you because you do not understand their business. Allow me to elaborate for a moment. I received 50 Inmails on LinkedIn weekly from recruiters. They send me job postings that do not match up to my industry, job description or position. How about you? Basically, they are spamming LinkedIn members. In marketing, we call this “spray and pray”. This approach typically returns less than a 1% response. What are your response rates? Do you think its time to change your approach? If not, good for you. Please click <HERE> to leave this post. For others, keep reading.
Let’s assume you get a 1% response, you schedule a phone call or Zoom meeting, and the prospect shows up for the call. What sales approach do you follow? Do talk about your company, show a slide deck, bring up testimonials, and puke up your guts? I bet if you sell commodity widgets you probably offer special promotions to offload products before the end of the quarter or year? Tell me I’m wrong? By now, your customer knows your MO. They plan their purchasing habits around your special offers (year-end sales). Do you think your customer views you as their business advisor or subject matter expert? I doubt it. You are a vendor to them – period.
Customers, buyers, prospects, whatever you want to call them are fed up with this approach. If you think about this approach, who benefits? Me, me, me. It’s all about me.
Customers are looking for a salesperson who has great listening and questioning skills to help uncover business problems or pain points they never knew they had. They are seeking advisors who spend the time understanding their business, issues, and problems. Customers are looking for salespeople who are personally connected to the business outcome.
Prospects don’t have the time to listen to product pitches. Time is a valuable commodity. Most people don’t have enough time in the day to get all their tasks completed. The last thing a prospect wants to do is listen to an old, boring, feature benefit product pitch. You might have heard of this one statistic “The average attention span is down from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds now? That is less than the nine-second attention span of your average goldfish.” A prospect wants something different. They want a subject matter expert, industry influencer, a trusted advisor. They want factual, actual, knowledgeable, experts who can back up their credibility by case studies and experience.
The world of selling has changed drastically. “91% of buyers are on now on social media and 84% of senior executives use social media to support their purchase decisions” – my past CEO would dispute this statistic because he is not on social media. Let me reiterate this fact once again — 84 % of senior executives use social media to support their purchase decisions. why do they need a salesperson? Anyone can research a product or seek a solution within minutes.
Technology has benefited buyers and sellers – “88 percent of consumers pre-research their buys online before making a purchase”. Automation has increased our efficiency as a salesperson. We can set up a drip campaign that accepts, rejects and automate emails. Awesome, right? Not really. A salesperson still has to SELL. Yep!
We have to ask great questions to understand our buyer’s problems, challenges, and issues they face every day in the business world. We need to understand and quantify the impact of not changing direction or implementing a different solution. We have to invest the time “sweat equity” to learn about their business, processes, and organizational politics. Once you have a good grasp of this knowledge, you must determine the length it takes to solve their problems.
Selling is more than adopting new principles, technology, and methods. LinkedIn, Salesforce, and Xerox have their own selling methodology. Carew International, Dale Carnegie, and Miller Heiman Group all claim they have proven methods of sales training. No matter what role you hold – SDR, BDR, Account Manager, Account Executive, Senior Account Manager, selling is all about the human touch. It’s an art. It takes practice. It takes time to take a buyer down the buyers journey – micro-moments. It takes time for a buyer to trust a seller. They have to feel the personal connection. If the buyer gets agitated during the selling process, they will bail on you immediately. It’s happened to me numerous times. The difference between selling 20 years ago and selling today is the invasion of technology and the missing element of the human touch. It’s become a lost art. Who becomes the victim? The buyer.
It’s time to rethink the way we sell. Go back to the basics. Technology has served its purpose. It’s created automation to eliminate mundane tasks and helps keeps our day organized. Forget about quota attainment, President Clubs, bonuses and start thinking about your client’s needs. Focus your attention on the buyer’s journey – they have problems, issues, and challenges that need to be uncovered. It’s your responsibility to ask questions to get your prospect to divulge the issues that keep them up every night. The more you listen, the more you understand, the more you quantify the impact to their bottom line, the better you will be looked upon as a selfless salesperson.
It’s not all your fault. I know. Sales Managers are pushing to close deals faster and faster, and sometimes, a little premature. Depending on your industry, sales cycles can be short or extremely long. It’s time that we go back to the basics of learning and development to train our salespeople.
We need to spend less time on product rich features and benefits and more on industry-specific problems, solutions, and outcomes. Each buyer will have a different agenda. A CEO and CMO will have different pain points. It’s time that salespeople understand what a buyer persona looks like. What are their trigger points? How do you build a relationship with a key decision maker?
The leadership team needs to take a step back, evaluate their sales training, bring back human interaction, incorporate social selling, and stop offering “special incentives” at the end of a quarter to make your “numbers”. As this transition materializes, low-value customers will be replaced by high-value customers that become customers for life. Why? Because you will be thought of as their business partner.
The time has finally come that we change the way salespeople sell.
If you are to succeed in sales, you must transition from a commodity seller — price, price, price to a business advisor — can you explain to me how this problem is impacting your production costs? And once you do, you will see how your customers will respect and trust you.
Are you ready to change the way you sell?