Sales Skills for the Digital Era
Sales skills for the digital era requires a change in both mindset and skill application. We know that selling is not getting any easier. Hard to reach buyers will only rethink their current position or reset established buying needs, when given some compelling reasons to change. For salespeople to improve selling opportunities they need to apply a level of research that creates valid reasons for any buyer to listen to them. Time is in short supply; they need to understand buyer motives. What is the likely cause of their pain, what would they want to gain plus what value can they bring, to open the buyer to change? All this before even contacting the buyer!
Sales skills true meaning is the ability to get a buyer to listen, open genuine sales conversations and recognizing if they have a true motivation to change. Then we can start aligning presentations and solutions to match their needs.
Paradoxically, research shows that too much choice or information in sales process can be demotivating for buyers. So, what does this mean for selling in the digital era. Well, it means that salespeople must understand their customers at a deeper level. They must be seen as a credible source of information; their sales language is one of trust and they bring proof as to what a future state could look like. They also need to know the buyers biases, impressions, intuitions, and feelings about the sales value proposition they are about to share BEFORE they share it.
Salespeople need to stop and ask, what does my buyer or target audience believe? What do they think about? And does the salesperson have any evidence before they make that sales pitch.
Today, just under 73% of B2B executives state that the expectation for more personalized experiences when interacting with salespeople is high on their agenda. While other important factors that influence B2B buyers are value-added services, product features, product reliability, price, and sales experience. In larger, some complex sales, 91% of C-level executives expect their business partners to play a more significant role in their operations.
With the advent of the digital age, however, the art of sales becomes a bit more complicated. Salespeople need to learn adaptive selling, meaning that they adapt and personalize their sales approach to that specific customer. A sales process that involves asking real discovery questions, reading the customer’s reactions, and adjusting according to each customer.
SALES SKILLS SHOULD MATCH THE CHALLENGES IN SELLING TODAY
Selling matched to Buyer Habits. How do salespeople position their products, services, and sales processes to meet changing buyer habits?
The selling skills, tools, and processes to make buying easier.
The sales skills to combat new entrants, alternative business models, pricing pressure and the change in the buying process (longer decision cycles).
The ability to be comfortable with Buyer self-education. We know there has been an acceleration of commoditization and substitution due to buyer education and awareness.
To be able to grasp more complex products and services to meet buyers demands.
The persistence and patience to stay with the sales process as control of the buying process has shifted toward customers.
Sales Skills Modern Mantra
I know my ROSE- Return On Selling Effort.
Customers do not buy products; they buy benefits.
My sales efforts involves getting buyers to change and act on that change.
To get buyers to make commitments and be committed to change.
In order to sell better, I must understand “Buyer Motivations”
I know that selling is about getting customers to act.
SALES SKILLS FOR THE DIGITAL ERA COMPETENCES
Company Claims. Salespeople can communicate “Company Claims”, that is what is unique and different about what they are offering. No claims, No real sales conversations.
If the sales team is not selling a product or service with a” bundle of values” that are clearly unique, they are selling as much for their competitors as they are for themselves.
They must have the skill to highlight the uniqueness of their solutions by the way of a unique value proposition to succeed.
Buyer Gains. Salespeople can identify and confirm “Buyer Gains”. What value, cost, or advantage has trigger the buyers motivation to act. No gain conversations, No buyer commitments. If the benefits to the buyer are greater than their cost of change, we the customer moves closer to buying. But we still need to do more work.
However, the buyer and buying committee still needs concrete evidence before it can commit to a decision. This means that rather than ‘talking’ about the value, salespeople need to ‘prove’ it. Selling to overcome ‘The Status Quo’ is a game of GAIN! Selling is not just about accelerating the buying decision; it’s about gaining Yes commitments to keep the sale moving forward.
Buyer Acceptance. Every salesperson can clarify buyer acceptance on the proposed solution and overcome any obstacles. The sales skills to make every sales proposal Personal, Memorable, Visual and Tangible to the customer. The reality is that No Clarity on Commitments, No Close.
To trigger a buying decision, a salesperson must have the skill to give the buyer the “emotional comfort” so they can effortlessly understand the future state is better than their current position.
Plus, delivering sales messages with maximum impact to influence the real decision maker, the emotional side of the brain, can give every salesperson an edge.
Sales Acumen. All salespeople need sales acumen as a central part of sales communication skills. Sales acumen is the strategic and tactical understanding of the company’s sales model. It also means that salespeople have market expertize, knowledge of trends and deep understanding of their target customers. Sales acumen crystalizes itself in the sales process when the sales team can add value and create common goals with the customer.
Communication Skills. We all think that communication skills are second nature to a salesperson. The question is how many salespeople have been trained in verbal communication. The ability to effectively communicate their thoughts, insights, and recommendations with a buyer verbally. Are they comfortable using sounds, pictures, and words to express themselves? Salespeople need to have a finely tuned level of negotiation communication skills.
Also, the behavioral communication skills (listening, acknowledging, questioning, accepting, challenging) of a salesperson has become even more critical.
Then their nonverbal communication skills can have a major impact of developing customer relationships, areas such as, eye contact, body language, facial expression, and tone of voice.
Mindset Skills. A skill competency often overlooked in sales skills, is the mindset of a salesperson. Do process a growth mindset? Mindset skills include resilience, ppersonal accountability, goal orientation, self-improvement, self-starter, emotional intelligence (EQ). Salespeople need to have a mindset of, how do I attract more sales? how much activity have I done today? Or what can I do to make my approach more attractive to customers?’
Sales skills for the digital era can be improved with sales training and the investment of a salesperson in their own self development. They are many more skills needed to sell successfully to buyers today, we just hope you found some of the above as food for thought in your own journey. Keep selling.