How have sales techniques evolved alongside technology?
Walking around and cold-calling seems like a crazy way to grow your business now that we're in the information age, but I have no idea what other sales tactics there are. What are effective ways to use technology in the sales process?
One of the biggest evolutions of the sales process triggered by technology is the amount of information both parties now have about each other prior to the sales cycle even beginning. Services such as LinkedIn, combined with Google searches and other reference materials mean both groups engaged in the sale can be far more educated about the other and the potential success of the sale.
If you want to make real money in sales, you still need to call your prospects. Cold, tepid or warm, you still need to call.
Email is becoming professional SPAM. Inboxes are inundated with message which you neither asked for nor want.
Prospects are more literate these days and do extensive research on the web before they buy. Most marketers forget that you first must master the strategic side - the message - before you think about the tactical - the delivery methods. And that is the problem Marketing messages are neither compelling or captivating, They are mostly filled with the same platitudes that your competitors say.
I see a move toward a Sales 2.0 perspective with more inside reps making the calls and setting meetings and then handing it over to the outside reps to close the deal.
Depending upon what you are selling, walking around and cold calling, as crazy as it sounds, may still be the best way to get a sale started.
While the the fundamentals of selling, like the fundamentals of aerodynamics, haven't changed, how they are practiced has changed. The primary change is in the salesperson's role in the process. At one time we were the purveyors of the information the prospect needed to make an informed buying decision. The information explosion has changed that, and not always for the better.
Not only does the prospect have an incredible amount of information but also misinformation. It becomes the salesperson's job to add value to the sales process by assisting the prospect find the right information and to properly assess what information they do have.
In order to do that, the salesperson must first build trust with the prospect and we do that by building a relationship early in the sales process.
Unfortunately, technology can get in the way of building relationships by building barriers between the salesperson and the prospect. Therein lies the challenge, using technology to overcome technology.
Several reasons. And even as someone who has been teaching "Never Cold Call Again" for over 11 years, the wild popularity of my LinkedIn Course, which has out-sold just about everything else combined, shines a lot of light on the question!
1. Information on prospects: You can know virtually anything and everything about most prospects before ever contacting them. As a demonstration on a social media webinar, I went and researched myself on social media and came up with a VERY long list of things someone could know about me right down to what restaurants I frequent and where I bring my dog for fun - let alone all the business data.
2. The theory that "social media is the new cold call." I wouldn't call it a cold call but social media opens up virtually infinite means to get in touch with new and qualified prospects, with LinkedIn being the king of business social sites.
3. Prospects going online to find a salesperson vs. the old way: When I need to make a purchase for my business and don't have a vendor yet, I get online and find one. I call the salesperson. Salespeople who are positioned correctly online and are managing their online reputation properly are getting the calls and the sales.
There are a number of other reasons but these are the biggies that immediately come to mind.
Build a database of targeted potential customers. Provided it's the right audience, those who are interested in your offerings, you will find you can cover more ground in way less time. Tons of tools online from social media, email marketing, and plenty more.
I find email marketing is the #1 form of sales online followed by social media. Just keep in mind, sell without selling. In other words inform, educate and entertain. Become the guru of your products and you will see how the customers come to you. I've been putting all my clients into this type of system and every single one of them has increased sales. There are 1,000's of strategies to accomplish this. Let me know if you want to further discuss.
To me it seems like technology has impacted buying by providing more information that previously you'd have to contact sales to get.
Having more information available to them has meant that buyers are more educated in general and they can hold off longer before speaking to sales professionals.
That has FORCED sales professionals to change their behaviour, applying techniques that make sales professionals part of the problem-seeking instead of just being problem-solving.
If the buying process hadn't changed, I would say that sales professionals hadn't changed their techniques very much - they would just have used technology as a rollerdex, as was much the case in the early 2000s until buyer behaviour started to shift.
It is accurate that both groups are more educated about each other. However, the wealth of information has especially pulled power in direction of the buyer - where it should be, frankly.
Develop your sales funnel. Make sure that, for your product/service, you have a clear understanding of your customers, the journey they go through in the decision making process, the questions/expectations they may have from your organization etc. Once you have this, you can then map your strategy at each phase of that funnel with how and what you communicate with them. Technology can provide you a host of tools to get the job done. With an established sales process, you can then define success metrics and optimize over time. Good luck!
Now, it has become all about inbound marketing. This is due to the current technologies and software, such as HubSpot. With most business generating from websites and digital marketing, we can now track who is interested in a business with "calls to action", therefor gaining their contact information. Digital marketing has many tactics such as, PPC, Target & Retargeting Display, SEO, SEM, Email, Social Media, Video, Content Creation, Webinars, Review & Reputation Management, etc. These all generate leads and convert to sales. I hope this helps!
I am amazed that anyone would think cold calling would have no place in a sales role. If we believe that people buy based on emotional reasons, then calling on people so they understand you, (you are the organisation) makes all the difference. You can still build a relationship with a client over the telephone but by email it's difficult. Where methods of communication help is in the area of getting news out to clients. Taking the technology approach only is the lazy option.
You can truly use technology to focus efforts and resources to find your target audience and close deals.
- It' important to decide how you intend to engage with customer (certain geographic areas or a certain type of target customer profiles.
- You can purchase lists of suitable names and start targeting them.
- Then it's time to go to work: phone, knock doors... whatever it takes to get in touch.
- As you engage, make sure to have a compelling message (your elevator pitch) telling how you will deliver substantial value to your customers.
- The follow up (nuture a prospect to a decision) must be supported by technology to be effective.
- Ongoing support and communication to your customer based should be supported by technology, but we can never try to replace human interaction. Use technology to make interaction easier and to initiate discussions.
- Use a powerful CRM software as the hub for all your customer interactions.
- Make sure your website provides information beyond a simple sales pitch.
- Make technology do the heavy-lifting, so you can focus on building relations.