How to sell effectively in the digital age

I recently read a fantastic article titled “Why Top Sales Reps Will Be Unemployed In 2 Years” (posted by Steve Loftness), in which Steve highlights that the buying environment has changed but the sales force has failed to adapt.

He uses Rick and Domina as the two distinct types of sales people around today. Rick is your traditional salesperson, whilst Domina is the evolving (or 21st century) salesperson. Rick relies on his years of experience, whilst Domina is focused on self-improvement. Rick knows what the customer wants, whilst Domina works with the customer to identify their pains and needs. Rick has a LinkedIn account, Domina works her LinkedIn account. And so on. There are quite a few more examples and it is well worth reading through some of them to check your approach and to see if you could benefit from some of Domina’s insight. I certainly did.

Here are few examples:

Symptom Rick (obsolete) Domina (evolving)
Social Network is challenged. Has a hundred or so LinkedIn contacts, but rarely spends time there. Doesn’t even check messages on Linkedin or research prospects. Does not have a twitter account. Built up a large 1000+ contact network over the years. Lately, however, has started to work her LinkedIn network better to focus on prospects.  LinkedIn is her first stop for prospect research. Recently switched her Tweets to be more valuable to prospects/clients than what she did before – tweet about her products and events.
Uses own “tried and true” sales presentations. Although Marketing has supplied multiple versions of sales presentation templates that stress the company value propositions, he insists on adding his own flair and interpretation to sales presentations. This results in reusing his tired inward-out slides that he is comfortable spinning stories around. (At least he is telling stories.) Has always leveraged presentation material from other Reps and Marketing.  In the past, was not happy with Marketing’s output, so augmented it where necessary.  Now, however, she is active in piloting and providing feedback to Marketing on the presentations that their Internal Content Marketing Agency produces.
Doesn’t understand who the competition is. He is convinced that his only competitors are the two major providers of similar products.  He has never considered that competition could come from an ancillary market.  Does not ever discuss with prospects his main competitors: the prospect doing it themselves or doing nothing. Since learning about it, she is now keenly aware of the possible competitors to an opportunity including known competitors, “doing nothing”, the client doing it themselves, and completely different markets that may actually be in need of her solutions. She makes it a point to be prepared to address all possible competitors – relying heavily on Marketing’s customer and competitor intelligence.
CRM usage is absolute minimum and not accurate as far as forecasting goes. He only uses the CRM system out of mandate – putting the minimum info out there.  He may have some well-known contacts in the CRM, but keeps most of them in his own rolodex for fear of someone poaching them.  Entries he makes in the CRM on opportunities are only ever made when he has a good level of confidence in their becoming a deal. She is a strong user in the CRM system. She loads opportunities in the CRM and tracks them through the sales process. Her entries have ample notes and she keeps all of her contacts in the CRM.  She realizes that accurate, complete records allows for easier and better forecasting as well as the chance for her SM to find and coach her on sales improvement.
Story telling, if used, is about irrelevant, dated subjects. The stories he tells are engaging stories because of his charisma. Unfortunately, the stories are about olden days in a market that no longer exists.  His stories aren’t always relevant to the industry he is selling to, either. She has not always leveraged story telling, but has resolved to be one of the best. To this end, she has been studying the art of story telling and has started to put it into practice.  She knows that storytelling must have a purpose, must be relevant to the audience, and must enable emotions.

For the full list and blog post, click here.

 

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