Sales teams can’t go one day without hearing, “You have now entered the world of buyer empowerment.” Yes, thanks to Google buyers have the ability to research and make buying decisions independent of communication with sales reps.
It is no secret. Digital and online resources are playing a major role in altering the way buyers make their purchases. The landscape is changing rapidly as buyers conduct pre-purchase research to understand their options via a combination of channels including search, social, email and numerous competitive Websites.
Successful sales reps who recognize this learn how to not only engage the new digital buyer but to align their online and offline resources to the buyer journey.
How far is today’s B2B buyer through the decision-making process before engaging a sales rep? Whether it is 57%, 67% or 77%, the actual number probably doesn’t matter. What’s important is today’s self-educated B2B buyer is increasingly turning to sources other than salespeople for information.
An Exercise for Sales Reps
Go face to face with one of your clients. Ask them this:
“When making a purchase with significant impact to your organization, how many people get involved? And at what point do you engage a sales rep for help?”
In an article published in Harvard Business Review entitled “The End of Solution Sales,” CEB/Gartner executives Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon and Nicholas Toman say it best: “The hardest thing about B2B selling today is that customers don’t need you the way they used to.”
Successful sales reps realize the one critical part of addressing the new buyer’s journey is not merely creating digital tactics, but focusing on how they engage prospects and even clients once they engage digitally.
HOW DO SUCCESSFUL SALES REPS CREATE ALIGNMENT WITH THE DIGITAL BUYER?
“Sales reps must learn how to become digital fishermen and content is the bait on the hook.”
So I say to all sales reps: how you… Capture, Converse, Collaborate, and Connect along with providing relevant and insightful Content to grab the attention of the executive buyer will determine your sales success in the 21st century.
Sales Reps Must Leverage Content As Bait
Writing content attracts prospects.
I am here to inform you wisdom often comes from the mouths of salespeople.
Gather the top questions you hear from your clients and prospects during your sales meetings and answer them in a blog format. Potential prospects researching for those answers online could end up finding your blog posts.
Here are a few ideas for you (especially if you are inside the B2B Office Technology Channel)
- Top 5 reasons why implementing Document Management is critical to your business
- 3 reasons document scanning can enhance productivity within accounting department’s
- 3 reasons why BYOD security is important within the digital workforce
Prospects and clients today not only search by keywords but by topics or through questions entered in a search engine. If your posts are hitting on the topics your prospects are searching for then you are attracting potential customers.
Content Drives Conversations
My friend Jack Kosakowski says it best, “Content drives value, value drives conversation, revenue is a result of both of these combined once you go offline.” Content includes blogs, social posts, videos, webinars, white papers and more. All the content your company produces to engage customers is marketing collateral that translates directly into sales. Posting content online (LinkedIn as an example), one of the most important things to remember is that you are starting a conversation.
Important, the content posted must be relevant, educational and worth reading. As opposed to a bunch of self-centered sales propaganda. The goal is to teach, tailor and encourage conversation.
Benjamin Franklin once said,
“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.”
Content Nurtures a Relationship
As sales reps speak with potential customers, they need to remember it’s a conversation involving talking, listening and hearing. Selling in today’s connected digital space is about building long-term business relationships. Before you can get to the closing opportunity, you need to understand each potential customer on a 1-1 individual level.
Learning their business challenges, what problems or concerns they have, and what they are looking for allows sales reps to make better recommendations and most importantly educate. Getting to the sale starts with small conversation and listening; as content can be a great way to keep in touch.
Content Personalizes the Sales Process
Conversations are personal, by nature. Unfortunately, most sales funnels are not very personal. This may leave sales reps struggling to engage with prospects who may or may not know much about their brand and how they can help.
The only way to overcome any initial disconnect is through education. However, bombarding prospects with general marketing materials is not the answer; 1-1 personalizing is. It’s time to change the pace of sales by changing the way you sell. Sometimes just slowing down allows sales reps to sell faster. .
Sales is just relationship-building at scale. It might impossible for sales reps to spend the time to get to know each prospect or customer personally, but this doesn’t mean they can’t personalize their approach integrating the use of content.
Let’s face reality, most prospects feel sales reps are full of Sh%T. As you capture, converse, collaborate and connect with your prospects; share with them with your posts, educate them and help by guiding them in the right direction. One direction you can point them to is to your LinkedIn profile. This is where you promote your business professional brand, your story, how you have helped your clients and what your prospects can expect when the get engaged with you. You can check out my profile here…
Be Honest, Share your Knowledge, Reduce the Risk
Misleading your audience is sure way to damage your professional brand and discourage prospects from trusting you. Being completely honest, accurate and genuine will greatly boost your credibility both online and face to face. If you consider yourself an expert in your field, you already have a fantastic source of credibility. Make that resource known by offering your knowledge to the rest of your community. Whenever possible, put your potential prospects at ease by reducing the amount of risk associated in doing business with you. The fewer roadblocks and red flags the more they’ll be able to trust in you.
If you would like some inspiration I welcome the conversation or send me a message to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your comments are greatly appreciated.
If you would like to learn more please visit the Social Sales Academy and our special reports.
Look for more information within the Social Sales Academy blog site.
I appreciate getting the opportunity to share my LinkedIn stories. Integrating the use of LinkedIn was my “game-changer” in the highly competitive copier world. With great pride I transform and coach B2B Office Technology Sales Professionals to grow net new business by helping them tell their story and communicate on LinkedIn. My commitment is to help office technology dealers thrive in a changing marketplace. You can follow me on LinkedIn, Twitter, as well as at the Social Sales Academy.
In 2016, Larry was recognized by ENX Magazine, “The Difference Maker” as someone who is making a difference inside the copier channel. Larry is passionate about helping sales reps succeed in creating their online brand image.