B2B sales is changing, the sales stars of yesterday are the has-beens of today. Even worse, that they are probably teaching outdated sales strategies to your junior sales staff. It is all too common for a struggling business to hire a formally successful Business Development Manager, with the hope of a sudden increase in revenue. When the new sales person fails the business loses confidence in the effectiveness of sales employees, and vow to never go down that path again.
So why did your new sales gun fail? Most likely there are two reasons:
1. The sales person was using outdated sales strategies
2. Your business has not defined a unique selling proposition
Let’s start with point 1. Simply put, the strategies required to succeed in sales today are the opposite of the sales strategies of the past. The successful sales people of today are essentially anti sales people. They understand that prospects don’t trust anything a sales person says. And will switch off at the first hint of sales bias.
The reasons are:
1. Increased direct marketing
2. Outsourced cold calling
3. More workplace pressure
4. Society viewing sales people as dishonest and motivated by self interest
5. Bombardment from sales people
These factors by no means mean that sales is dead, it simply means that you need to use this distrust of sales people to your advantage. So how is this achieved?
The answer is actually easier than you think.
The motto of the new age successful sales star is “people like to buy, they don’t like to be sold to”. What this means is, the prospective client needs to convince themselves that your product or service is the best option. If you attempt to tell someone that your product is the best option, the prospect will view this opinion as biased.
Therefore your business must have a unique value proposition. Ideally you will have a unique proposition for each of the following prospects:
Business owner, GM or MD: A proposition which reduces costs and/or increases workplace efficiency.
Specialist Manager: A proposition which improves efficiency within their department, in addition to enhancing their reputation internally by improving business operations.
The key is to make the prospect look good internally within their organisation by choosing your product. This is the only way they will push hard enough with internal decision makers to get the deal over the line.
It is important for a business to define and explain these point of difference to their new sales employees. Many businesses expect their sales team to define USP’s themselves, however this is a recipe for failure.
Yes, they may work them out by themselves, however, by the time this happens they will be so far behind quota that they will have lost confidence in the validity of your product or service, they will then become cynical and go through the motions until they find another job. Therefore defining and training new staff on your unique value propositions is essential for their success.
In the old days a salesperson simply went in to a meeting, talked about generic product aspects, and attempted to build report through artificial chatter, which bored the prospect. The new age sales champions listen’s, asks questions about the prospects day to day business activities, and builds report through engaging in a two way productive problem solving discussion. Remember the meeting is not about you, and your product or service. It is a two way discussion.
The next step is following up after the meeting, the most successful sales people of today are persistent, but not pushy, they follow up frequently but not forcefully.