Sales in the digital world: a clear choice to partner with our clients
Internet has fundamentally changed the use of time and space. Quicker access to more consumers and excess supply of information that is accessible to nearly everyone, have throughly changed the context in which the business sector operates. While organizations could previously expand their market position over time, they now have to operate in a context in which complexity and changes occur at constantly increasing rates and are becoming the norm.
Death of a Salesman?
Competition comes from everywhere. Every day new apps are launched that can threaten every business. After all the cost-cutting efforts by companies in the last seven years in order to respond to the economic and financial crisis of 2008 and 2009; it is now time again to put the focus on growth. And therefore there is only one way: good sales. With all the attention going to disruption and social media, it is easily forgotten that even in the digital world, it is simply not possible not to sell. On the contrary, despite the popular saying that Sales is Dead, referring to the popular play “Death of a Salesman”, sales continues to be of fundamental importance in every business. In fact, no one ever succeeded to implement a strategy without good selling. And whatever the perception on this may be, companies are still very conscious about this.
Field sales efforts stay at the forefront
In a recent article in Harvard Business Review, Frank Cespedes, the author of the bestseller “Aligning strategy and sales” wrote that the amount spent annually by U.S. companies on field sales efforts is 3X their spending on all consumer advertising, more than 20X the spend on all online media, and more than 100X what they currently spend on social media. Selling remains the most expensive part of strategy implementation for most firms. Simply because it is also the most efficient way to reach the goals that they aim for. Sales force Teams have NOT been replaced by social media or other internet tools. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of people in sales roles in 2012 was virtually the same as in 1992—before the rise of the internet. And this almost certainly understates the real numbers because, in an increasingly service economy, business developers in many firms are called Associates or Vice Presidents or Managing Directors, and are no longer placed in a “Sales” job category for reporting purposes.
Just as in marketing: from push to pull
At the same time we are seeing a fundamental change in the sales approach. Just as we have observed within the marketing function; there is a switch from “push” to “pull”. The sales function has dramatically changed. In that way one could indeed be talking about the “Death of a Salesman”. A typical sales call in which the sales rep completes the perfect ‘sales pitch’ ; demonstrating the core features and benefits of the product or service is no longer appropriate. Clients consider this as disturbing. Remember your childhood days when your parents taught you not to interrupt the conversations of the adults? Nowadays, trying to sell with the “push” method is also being considered as disturbing by clients who are used to finding immediately all the information they are looking for.
Price becomes less of an issue
In Belgium we have made the choice to focus on “the new sales” in “the new digital normal”, based on inbound and content marketing, or in other words; focusing on the pull method. If we shift to a “pull” strategy, I feel we will have a much higher close ratio and better yet, do it with a higher margin. The “push” and “pull” concept has been key to marketing for years and now we can apply it also in sales. When we say “pull,” it refers to creating incentives at the customer level that encourage them to buy the product. A “pull” strategy for sales is one where the customer comes to believe the product you have is the one they have to buy.
When the customer believes this, price becomes less of an issue. A “pull” sales strategy is centered on answering the questions that customers have. By asking questions, you’re allowing the customer to drive the discussion — or so they think — and thus they will be far more likely to convince themselves. Once they have convinced themselves, there is no stopping them and they will be adamant about buying to satisfy their need. A “pull” sales strategy where you allow the customer to drive the sales journey will result in not only more sales, but also more sales at a higher profit.
People, processes, partners and profit
We have made a deliberate choice to specialize in sales, because no business can grow without sales and we have made the deliberate choice to focus on a new “pull” sales strategy, because we truly believe we can help a lot of companies with this approach. These choices mean that we always emphasize on 4 P’s: People, Processes, Partners and Profit. It’s obvious that the best results come from motivated people. By having a real attention for the real needs of our people and by giving them the freedom and the responsibility to use their talents in the best possible way; we manage to enhance their inner motivation. This leads to strong performance outputs. We also choose a clearly defined sales process that has a proven track record. Most people, when asked, suggest that they don’t like to sell and don’t like to be sold. This feeling of aversion towards sales usually comes from a wide range of experiences which have not felt very positive, or are sometimes extremely negative, and are therefore best avoided, if at all possible. If these experiences have involved selling (outbound sales), individuals will have felt the frustration of trying to reach a decision maker, having to overcome many objections, dealing with unreturned phone calls or emails and general resistance to almost any “pitch”.
And, if these experiences have been on the buying (inbound sales) individuals, they will have often had the feeling that every possible product/service solution looks the same, is misrepresented or oversold in some way, or perhaps, doesn’t ultimately fit their needs even when they’ve said “yes” – leaving a “ bad taste in the mouth”. In this sense, both parties in the sales transaction are actually looking for a better or more positive, less “friction-full” process or one that represents more of a “win” for both of them. So what could or should this process look like, especially in the modern business world where we now have so much “new technology” to help or hinder what we do? We have determined four steps to get great sales results:
1. Carefully qualify the prospect by detecting his “pain”,
2. Collaborate to assess the potential solution,
3. Exchange information openly
4. Close the process together.
At this final step ,both seller and buyer can close the sale cycle together or collaboratively by talking about what exactly is the best outcome, by when and in what way or how. Although this appears to be a step that may be difficult or uncomfortable for either or both parties, if the previous three steps have been followed, it is a surprisingly easy end to the process and one that can positively maintain the relationship so that future measurement and review can take place to ensure that the agreed upon solution is fit for purpose and if not adjustments can be made. In that way, we make sure that we position ourselves as real partners and specialists who work in a proactive manner and who do more than just satisfy the customer, but also delight them. In this period where collaboration is the new competition, we can only achieve our goals if we act as specialists and partners. Putting the attention on people, processes and partners leads surely to more profit and a better EBIT. We are convinced that our 4P strategy in “the new sales process” will lead us to great results, achieved by a strong team.
For further insight on this Sales Model and/or to understand how Kreasales CPM can help drive Sales for your business , please contact Joeri Perneel at email@example.com