Written by: William Johnson, VP Sales and Channel
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Capturing new sales has always had its challenges.
The current sales landscape still contains some of the previous hurdles, but new ones have also popped up. To clear these hurdles and have success, you’re going to need to up your game plan accordingly.
The pandemic definitely made it challenging to get in front of people for everything from a first appointment to securing a sale. A remote or hybrid work environment means being more deliberate about coordinating schedules and clarifying the value early in the process to connect with decision-makers.
Personalization is key to overcoming this new challenge. Showcasing the value of a face-to-face meeting by turning your generic sales pitch to a personal one will resonate best. Non-personalized sales email blasts are quickly deleted. Reps need to ensure they’re not just researching an account; they need to come with a strong ‘point of view’ and a clear call to action. Smart research is a great way to make sure you drive interest at a personal level to help you with the next step of the process.
Moving forward, sales reps won’t be able to rely primarily on the reliability and new features of their product or service. Touting your solution’s bells and whistles and technical performance is less effective in the ‘seas of same’ characterizing the competitive landscape of most modern industries. Linking your solution to specific customer business/performance issues helps assure you’re on target and shows value to your prospective client. How is your solution going to make life easier for your customers moving forward and deliver measurable business results?
Leveraging a strong sales process is more important than ever to combat this challenge. Making sure you have executive buy-in and a clear ROI and business model helps assure a quicker close to the sale. A targeted solution is one critical aspect. Showing a performa on how your solution will improve the company’s business results is the other key component.
Prioritizing buyer interests is a big way to change the game. The concept of buyer-first—looking at how buyers want to buy versus how we choose to sell to them is a positive paradigm switch.
Leveraging a consultative, helpful, empathetic approach to selling is the key to handling this challenge — taking steps like listening actively and having conversations tailored to getting at the “why” behind a sale will move your conversations forward.
Avoid talking at your prospects to better adapt to this new buyer-first landscape. Your sales efforts can’t be driven by a traditional presentation-first approach anymore. Emphasize your smart research and focus on relationship building to adjust to a world where the buyer has the power.
Moving to a customer-centric selling model allows you to better partner with versus pressure your buyers. If you can plan your efforts around your prospects’ timelines as opposed to your ideal schedule, you’ll create a faster road to success.
The individual buyer sale is long gone. The group sell is the new normal. According to research from Forrester, 63% of purchases have more than four people involved — up from just 47% in 2017. Buyer groups now usually involve prospects with varying degrees of authority and influence.
Gatekeepers, influencers, blockers, champions, users and decision-makers are just a few of the new participants that can make or break your next possible sale.
Smart research and personalization are both necessary to overcoming this challenge. It’s essential to understand the players and how to best approach each type of contact previously listed.
Just because the decision to work with you will be a group decision doesn’t change the fact that your contacts are individuals, so naturally, they’re going to be receptive to an individualized approach. Understand their priorities, personal inclinations and level of seniority at their companies. Make sure to tie your conversations with them around their individual insights along with the common denominator that connects them — the business they work for. Understanding the industry, their competition and their pain points allows you to speak to all of those elements when talking with your connections.
Keeping prospects engaged is a major challenge for any person on their sales journey. Your efforts can only go as far as your sales process permits. Make sure you have a clearly defined and refined process.
To help combat this inevitability, you need to keep your prospects intrigued and enthusiastic throughout the entire sales process.
The teamwork approach of sales leadership and their reps is critical to overcoming this challenge. Leadership needs to lay out a sales process that balances communication and timeliness.
Reps are then able to execute and effectively communicate and build rapport. As a salesperson, developing trust sooner than later with your prospects will reap dividends down the road.
Stay in touch and communicate at every stage of the sales process. Creatively break through the day-to-day clutter with helpful articles, white papers and case studies. Let your prospects know you’re there without being overly eager or obnoxious. Tactful, effective communication that provides value and new learnings to help with their day-to-day challenges illustrates your effectiveness as a partner.