The New Sales Professional's World
The business world has changed and will continue to change as access to information grows about your business: the way your business is presented and found on the Internet, the offerings it provides to solve the customers' needs, and the way it treats new and loyal customers.
The following is a summary of key mindsets, disciplines, practices and trends that are useful to the progressive sales professional looking to be more successful today and into the future. Thanks to John Jantsch for sharing these ideas on Duct Tape Marketing web site and in his blog.
The 6 Disciplines of the New Sales Professional
The sales environment today demands that a sales professional develop and practices disciplines more closely aligned with traditional marketing and customer service practices in addition to becoming an educator in the sales process.
The following six disciplines make up the necessary traits of the new sales professional:
1. Community building
In the past all the focus was given to the prospect, the one most likely to buy today. Today's sales professional understands that the larger community dictates ultimate success. By focusing a great deal of attention on 'educating' decision makers at every level, building strategic networks and referral partners, and connecting people in ways that lead to no direct benefit, value is created. Delivering value to a growing community is your number one job.
2. Lead defining
Instead of sitting back and waiting for company defined leads to "request more information," today's sales professional understands how to define and attract ideal leads often challenging the assumed notions sent up by the marketing department. By narrowly defining what makes and ideal lead, a sales professional can create processes for both finding and standing out with this narrow group. Lead defining can be done across demographics, but it is one most profitably when you can define a behavior that is unique. What uncommon notion can you challenge when it comes to defining your ideal prospect?
3. Difference making
Markets are often very attracted to companies that stand for something greater than a group of products. Sales professionals can benefit by connecting with their own passion and purpose and using that as part of their story. Getting crystal clear on your own value proposition as well as that of your organization is how you create leverage in a highly competitive sales environment. What difference can you actually make in the lives of your clients?
4. Channel guiding
The concept of a sales funnel is so limiting in today's sales environment that we need to replace it with something far more representative of the entire picture. Think of moving prospects through a logical set of 7 channels - know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer - the sales and marketing hourglass. When you create sales and marketing processes designed to guide the prospects logically down this path, future lead generation becomes the natural outcome of a happy customer.
5. Reputation building
Today's sales professional must build an online and offline reputation in much the same way as one thinks about building a brand. When a prospect is considering a purchase the reputation of a sales representative for delivering value and the social proof that leads to this reputation is increasingly crucial.
6. Inbound attracting
Teaching sells today. Today's sales professional attracts leads, community and opportunities by publishing educational content. Great sales professionals often have far greater insight into the actual world and challenges of the client they serve and can raise the perceived value and expertise by addressing the questions.
The 7 Essential Practices of the New Sales Professional
Now let's move from the strategy noted above to the tactics. These are the skills that sales professional will need to acquire and the organizations need to support, train, and look for in their sales teams.
1. Create a platform
Today's salesperson needs to take charge of his or her own platform. This means creating on online presence that includes content, SEO, email marketing, social media, and maybe even awareness advertising. These are the building blocks for creating an online reputation and community and moves beyond simply completing network profiles.
2. Become an authority
One of the most important ways to shift the context of the sales job is to build an expertise and reputation for sharing using information. This is how you start the process of being invited to share your ideas before your competition know there is an opportunity. Start by authoring educational articles, speaking at industry and community events and even facilitating things like Google + Hangout or Linked In group discussions among customers and prospects.
3. Mine networks
The new suite of online tools make it much easier to listen to entire markets and drill down and discover invaluable intelligence such as what people lack, who they report to, and what their objective for the year are. Sales people must get very good at listening for clues and mining networks to create interdepartmental relationships and to connect the dots between who needs help and who they can help.
4. Build problems
Prospects have gotten very good at figuring out solutions to the problems they've identified due to a large part to unprecedented amount of data available online. Today's sales professional has to get good at understanding and building cases for problems that the market doesn't yet know exist. This is a skill that comes from helping customers think bigger about what's possible first and foremost.
5. Finish the sales
A sale is not completed until the customer receives a result that was expected. This mindset means that you get involved in the experience, before, during, and after the commitment or sales is made. Staying connected in this manner is also how you get more referrals and better understand the needs of a client going forward.
6. Measure results
Great sales professionals fully understand and believe in the value their products and services deliver. When you help your client determine and understand the ultimate results they derive, after the sales, you gain a measure of poster that moves beyond confidence and into something more like a certainty.
7. Balance energy
Time management involves understanding energy management to get the most important things done. Today's sales professional has to make space for strategies and tactics, for time and energy needed to focus on publishing, speaking and serving clients. This requires a new way of thinking about how time and energy is allocated. It takes a great deal of stamina.
It is a new world and is ever changing. Having the strategies and tactics will help the sales professional in their new role. Yes, it does require a new view of a sales professional and requires that organizations hire differently, train differently and measure differently. This probably involves a change in your business development CRM system. Let's talk when you are ready on what's possible.