There used to be this ivory tower mentality in sales organizations and their respective sales processes. All these sales methodologies developed in the old economy which prescribed how a sale should be conducted from conception to closure. Those models have holes today. Here are a few ways the old selling worked:
- Busy people depended on salespeople for information. Part of the salesperson’s job was to educate early about how their industry, product and company worked. We have the internet to learn this for ourselves now.
- Your reputation was nicely packaged in your collateral. Today we have social media and easy access to our networks to find out about how you perform.
- Things moved slower. When the world moved slower, then your content did not have to update as frequently. Furthermore, you could depend on linear motion. Attention moves quickly today. What was not important yesterday may be the hot thing today to move the sales conversation forward.
- There was more face-to-face. Salespeople favor personal interactions. They can read body language and tact accordingly via their excellent interpersonal skills. Today, your customer can be anywhere. They are reluctant to spend hours at lunch or meet needlessly. It’s less efficient.
- We tolerated more interruptions. The volume of cold calls, fax blasts, direct mail, and other methods of interruption were tolerated. We have become desensitized to the noise. We use spam filters, caller ID, Do Not Mail and all kinds of ways to block out the salesperson.
The game has completely changed. There is still selling that is required, thus, there is a requirement for a sales process. To create a winning sales process means focusing on how people buy today, not your need to sell something.
Each market works differently. Your own sales process has a formula that has to be custom developed around your buyer and their preferences, behaviors and attention. Here’s how a winning sales process can be designed for your organization:
- Determine what builds trust. Trust is difficult to build and easy to shatter. Identify what creates trust.
- Position far before the sales conversation. Your positioning sets up the conversation. Blindly selling before you have permission sets you up for failure. It’s asking to get married before you have even dated.
- Give something of extreme value. If you cannot give value first, then you are not qualifying your leads well. You are wasting other people’s time. Design a high value approach to your initial outreach. It should turn the typical lead conversion ratios upside down.
- Create a show. Ensure every step is an experience that wows. Show leadership and help your prospective customers gain momentum in building trust.
- Measure what matters. If you sell B2B, the number of meetings matters. If you have a good value proposition and talented people, then this is the hardest part. If you are B2C, it may be how many stars you have on Yelp! Determine the key metrics and watch them like a hawk.
A winning sales process has both art and science involved in its design. Customizing the approach, meeting, follow-up, value proposition, proposal and negotiation phases has to account for the inattention in the marketplace and accessibility to information. Old selling will not work. We are too empowered as buyers now.
What can change in your sales process?