Been in sales for more than five years? Notice any changes? Of course you have – but probably not the ones I’m going to talk about.
I’m NOT talking about the economy, or customers in financial trouble, or slow sales, or price pressures from competition, or pressures from your boss to “sell more now.”
Oh and, by the way, how about YOUR changes? Still cold calling? Still learning “how to close?” Still “finding the pain?” Still trying to figure out social media? Still a bit behind technology? That’s your problem.
I AM talking about changes that have taken place over the past five years that will affect sales into the next decade. Your sales.
Here are the major changes that have taken place, and how you must take advantage of them and master them to sell and succeed:
■The mobile phone is now your main communication device. It’s fast, reliable, and gives you instant access to message and respond.
■The Internet is your new marketplace. It’s not just how your website stacks up against the competition; it’s also how your website exceeds customer needs and wows them. How and what are you messaging to your customers? How easy is it to do e-commerce business with you?
■Google is your new reputation and character builder (or assassin). Where do you rank? Not just as a company, but also as a person. Your customers are Googling you! It’s time to build a foundation of positive information online.
■Your customers expect INSTANT – not a computer voice. Every customer wants and expects a live, friendly person ready to help them when they call you. If you want to know how you’re doing in this department, call yourself five minutes before you open, or five minutes after you close, and try to place an order for a hundred thousand dollars.
■China is the 51st state. Get over it, and get with it. Figure out how to use their workforce and quality of manufacturing to help your customers.
■Text communication is the new “instant.” Five years ago it was email. Text is personal. CAUTION: GET PERMISSION TO TEXT. And, by the way, if you do, it’s more than a buying signal of a loyal customer; it’s also a report card of your performance, your ethics, and your perceived value.
■Collaboration with customers. Do they consider you a partner or a sales rep? Are you a trusted advisor or still bidding on jobs as they come up? Are you inside the decision-making room, or outside waiting for a call as to your fate?
■Differentiation from the competition. It’s no longer a price fight to the finish unless you’re looking to do business with Wal-Mart or give up your profit (or both).
■Value messaging rather than sales pitching. Any advertisement should be about customer’s value after ownership and/or a testimonial statement directly from them. “A dollar over invoice” no longer holds an ounce of credibility. Customers wanting to buy can validate any claim you make in a Google-nanosecond by looking online first.
■Value-driven sales presentations. Are you using more boring we-we “slide decks from marketing” or are you finally getting that sales is about what happens AFTER ownership (not before)? How will they produce and profit?
■Profit from purchase, not “save money, buy now!” No real decision maker is looking to save money as a reason to purchase. CEOs, presidents, and business owners want to make a profit.
■Using voice of customer as proof to your claims. Testimonials are the only proof that your claims are valid.
■Using social media to make connections. Five short years ago, there was no awareness of social media sites or YouTube. They were all just born or a year old. Facebook is now the third largest country in the world. And growing. Linking in rather than cold calling. Tweeting a daily value message to your customer and prospect base. Creating and consistently posting on your business Facebook Page.
■Weekly email magazine with a value message. Sent to all customers, prospects, and influential people in your industry.
It ain’t the way it was, and it never will be that way again. If you think that things will go back to “normal” after the economy rebounds, please don’t hold your breath. And please don’t WAIT for things to happen – MAKE things happen.
GREAT NEWS: You give me a techno savvy, internet friendly, Google ranked, instant responding, collaborating, different, social media savvy, value driven, value based, value messaging salesperson – who uses voice of customer testimonials, and is interested in how the customer profits – and I’ll give you a sale!