Sales in the Information Age
Sales in the information age is about more than just “ABC,” “Always. Be. Closing.” Though the sales principles of the past still apply, the role of the sales professional has evolved to encompass more. Gone are the days where there is a vast information imbalance between the salesperson and the customer. In most situations, you will be facing a situation where there is a solution already available in some form or another or, you are providing the exact same product as someone else with some variation on quality, price, and service. With that in mind, how do you set yourself apart from the teeming throngs of competition chomping at the bit to swipe the customers you work so dutifully to seduce?
The best way to put yourself miles ahead of your competition is to:
- Establish yourself as an authoritative sales professional in your industry
- Care about the customer
What does all this mean, you ask? Do not fret, I am your spirit guide along this journey towards more sales success. To establish yourself as an authoritative sales professional in your industry you must present yourself well then, present your product well. This means you are dressed for your audience, whoever that may be. If you are going to a construction site, grab a hard hat. If your audience are suits, grab a tie. Maybe your audience is semi-casual…don the polo for good measure. Just make sure your attire is crisp, you smell nice, your breath is fresh (you will be speaking to people after all) and you are well prepared with whatever collateral you will need. To continue, to establish yourself as an authority, you must be enthusiastic and sharp as a tack. Remember, YOU are the expert on YOUR product, you are there to present a solution to what ails your potential client. Therefore, speak with confidence and understand that you must know the right questions to ask to be able to effectively understand your prospects unique situation and craft a solution that fits them.
Now that you have established yourself as an authority, there comes the people aspect of sales. Some people will say that your product knowledge doesn’t matter, that sales is all about relationship building and vice versa. I beg to differ, BOTH are equally important. If you want to be successful you will have to know your product AND know your customer as well as you can. People do not care how much you know until they know how much you care. Building rapport should be one of your top priorities.
Contrary to popular belief, rapport is not built exclusively on compliments. Rapport is built through deeper questioning and probing into your prospects issue. Afterall, you are there to solve their problem, not to become their best friend. Do not put yourself into a situation where you have wasted both yours and the prospects time by not getting to the root of their issue. People buy from their friends but have no problem telling their best friends no. Besides, if you waste their time with niceties, they will be less inclined to see you again, even if they do like you because they are at work to accomplish a task, not to jibber-jabber about last night’s football game. The more you ask about their issue and uncover what needs solving, the more your prospect will trust that you.
People buy when they like you, trust you, and see value in your offering. When you ask the right questions, the prospect will begin to trust you. People naturally gravitate towards people who like them and are like them. So, finding something in common with a prospect and showing that you like them, i.e. taking interest in them as an individual, will go a long way.
Lastly, to get people to see value in your deal, you must make an effective presentation that pricks their pain points and stimulates their hotspot effectively. Making an effective presentation is a separate topic and will be covered in a later article
Staying Top of Mind
Now that you have established yourself as an authority and as someone that cares about your prospect, you must remain top of mind. There is so much going on in this world that you have to penetrate through all the noise in the marketplace in order for your prospect to even remember what you are offering. That means not just showing up once or twice, but 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 times, as long as it takes until you get noticed and are acknowledged as “The Guy/Gal with the Solution.” Everytime you show up, you have to present new material and information. Calling and saying “Are you ready to order yet?” will not cut it. Show up to your client with new information about your company, your product, their situation, get creative, add value to their lives in some way. Acknowledge a wedding anniversary, birthday, if your prospect mentions that they like Twix bars, if you have a good relationship with this prospect, bring in a Twix bar next time. By remembering something about your client, they may reciprocate and remember something about you next time. Possibly even giving you an order.
Becoming a Sustaining Resource
Do you have a product clients have to order on a recurring basis? Finally, becoming a continuing resource is how you gain repeat business from your client. Be the expert, the “go-to” for your niche. That way, whenever your client needs something, they think of you as the person that can help them solve their issues. In today’s digital age, there are many different ways to present yourself as an expert to build your personal and company brand. Utilize video, blog posts, webinars, ads, podcasts, direct mail, social media posts, conferences, face to face presentations. Whatever you do to put yourself out there in your industry as THE authority, do it so that everyone in your space defers to your expertise for reference. The most important aspect of becoming an authority is consistently delivering content and consistently growing, developing, and honing your skills so that you are always on the bleeding edge.
What now? Get started! Take action. Draw up a plan of attack for professional growth and implement! The world is at your feet. Sales in the information is about being the authority, creating relationships, staying top of mind, and being a sustaining resource. I wish you continued success. Thank you for reading.