Traditional sales were all about closing deals. While this is essentially still true, the role of the salesperson has shifted considerably, and businesses can no longer be approaching their customers in the same way.
“In the pre-90s, or what I like to call ‘the olden days’, sales people were purveyors of information. They had all the information, and this helped them close sales,” says Justin Spratt, CEO of Quirk Agency.
“Today, clients have all the information they need at their fingertips. Economic purveying is happening online, which means before a sales person has even walked through the door, prospective clients know all about them, their company and what they’re offering. The rules have changed.”
Sales has changed
So the question becomes, how do companies change their sales approaches in response? According to Spratt, understanding the role of digital in today’s market is essential.
“Sales can no longer be just about the target,” he says. “Numbers need to be post the fact. The reality is that you need to care about your clients first – and then the numbers will follow.”
The reality of sales is that ‘analogue’ conversations come at a high cost and they’re often difficult to arrange in busy executive schedules.
“Here’s an interesting fact,” continues Spratt. “Whereas people used to make buying decisions based on three touch points with your product or company, today it’s ten.
How can you get in front of your customer ten times before they make a decision? It’s almost impossible.”
Enter the power of digital
“Because sales people are no longer purveyors of information, their role has shifted to making client experiences better. People love social media, and most people are using it, so sales need to become the new marketers.”
According to Spratt, understanding social media is just like sales: it’s all about humans and how they interact – reciprocity and empathy count. The more human you are (including your faults), the better.
“In other ways though, social media is actually anti-sales. If you’re just trying to close a sale or punt your product, no-one will listen.
Instead, be appreciative. Tell your clients ‘thank you for your time,’ or ‘thank you for your business.’ That’s where the value lies.”
Getting the most from social media
Here are Spratt’s top ten must-know instructions for getting the most out of your social media strategy:
- Social media is not about The Internet. It’s about human interaction. The Internet simply expedites and amplifies these social experiences.
- It’s not about self promoting – People don’t want to hear that!
- Reach influential customers – influence is the most important thing in this space. You need to reach the people who are influencing everyone else in your potential market.
- People love talking about their experiences – Facebook is so successful because it became the best photo sharing platform in the world. We think everyone wants to see our stuff/experiences. Use this.
- As a sales person you need to converse – not communicate. Don’t say “This is the message.” Instead, say “let’s talk.” Share the experience. Personify the product you sell – create a narrative and a story. Creating a great story and sharing it gives the business a human face – which is how you end up selling. Great, successful businesses have great stories, and they know how to share those stories. Your sales people are the story tellers.
- Most successful R&D is from your customers – they want to share and tell you! Give them the platform to do so.
- People are interested in businesses doing good. The reality is that most businesses today are doing something for the community or environment. Tell people about it!
- You must be transparent. If you mess up, own it. Tell the community about your mess, it shows vulnerability – and that’s a human asset which people respond to.
- To reiterate: Your customers don’t need you perfect, they need you honest.
- Get your content ready to go anywhere – because it might. You can’t control it. Understand that – and embrace it.
With so much information out there, customers can get the facts elsewhere. Sales people aren’t needed as they were before, today they must be wanted. They must offer trust and value.