Today there are a lot of discussions on how complex the sales process is today and how sales people have to change the sales process.
I would argue that the sales process in and of itself is not anymore complex than it was 10, 15, or twenty years ago. It is still a simple process of:
• Identifying prospects
• Connecting with those prospects
• Working with the prospect to identify needs and potential connecting points
• Presenting viable and mutually beneficial solutions
• Confirming with the prospect that you both agree to move forward
• Following up with the now client to ensure you are meeting their needs
That is the same as it has always been. But like everything, some things have evolved.
Primarily, with the Internet, buyers “feel” more armed with information than ever before. With social networking, people have opportunity to get connected without ever leaving the comfort of their own office or abode. Finally, more and more organizations that you would have as clients have incorporated a consensus or committee style of buying.
Because of these changes, although I don’t feel the sales process is more complex, there is a requirement for sales professionals and organizations to develop systems to match. Specifically, we need to do the following:
1. Better train our teams to the specific values we bring to the table to battle the Internet information overload. Buyers today will research their needs proactively. Website analysis of “hits” is a critical tool in knowing when companies are passively looking. And as marketing through websites becomes more homogenous in content (and therefore vague in details), arming your sales group with real and key differentiators will make a world of difference.
2. Sales professionals need to learn to use the social networking to really connect with people. Utilize the opportunity for things like LinkedIn and Facebook et al to get the initial introduction, but to take it a step further and develop real relationships with those connections.
3. Utilize a team sell approach to battle the consensus buying approach. Get our sales teams to “check their egos at the door” and create a system that brings in service/subject matter experts to the clients in the middle and ending part of the sales process. By doing so, you are already connecting the dots of the two organizations and getting out of the “we will sell you” approach and create a real partnership/collaboration between client and vendor.
Bill Leesman / Director / PEO Canada