A selling definition in the modern sales process could maybe be summed up in two words – “relationship building”. Is selling today all about relationships?
We know that selling is an exchange of one product or service for payment(money). The question is how do we create a selling definition that streamlines the modern sales process so that our efforts result in higher sales numbers and higher returns on our time investment.
Today, Leaders, CEO’s and Sales Managers are painfully aware that the current environment makes growth difficult. In a world of “more” — more information, more choice and more people.
The Digital era has facilitated the connection of more than 8 billion devices worldwide, altered areas such as access to information, value, skills, management, and started to change the nature of organizations, their reach, processes, and relationships. This change has altered the modern sales process alongside our understanding of a selling definition (which has put the power in the hands of the buyers). Instead of them being passively influenced by marketing and sales, they actively search, research and compare. Access to data, information and channel alternatives has arrived in B2B and it’s changing the selling landscape.
So could building meaningful relationships with our customers be the best way for our companies to thrive in the highly competitive sales landscape.
- 75% of purchases now start with an online search by the buyer.
- Prospects can compare your product or service to everything like it and buy from the competition without you even knowing they exist.
- If you can get past the smiling sales assassin on the prospect company’s switchboard, the prospect will act as though a dangerous alarm has gone off if their office landline rings and look aghast until it diverts to voicemail. It’s barely worth leaving a message but if you do, you know the chances of anyone getting back to you are less than Irelands hopes of winning the next world cup. Same goes for email. How many carefully penned sales missives sent cold vanish into the ether?
- Selling today is now more complex as there are an average of 7 decision-makers involved in the B2B buying process.
- Nearly two thirds of B2B buyers state that prior to completing any purchase they researched at least two but as many as seven B2B sites plus between 50 and 90% of the buyer’s journey is complete before they interact with a salesperson.
- A B2B buyer experience survey recently reported that B2B buyer’s believer that the purchasing process is more tedious due to more detailed ROI analysis (77%), more extensive research activity (75%), and increased buying group members (52%).
Today, just north of 49 percent of total B2B sales are still conducted by salespeople in person. While some types of customers and the more complex sales will still be best suited to this channel, expect to see a decline in SaaS and Transaction type sales involving salespeople especially where they don’t add value. To prove this point, 52% of B2B buyers view self-service features as the most important factor when assessing a vendor’s overall sales experience. According to Adobe, nearly 50% of high-tech B2B sales are expected to come from digital channels over the next three years
A recent survey from Accenture showed that nearly 73% of B2B senior executives stated that the expectation for more personalized experiences when interacting with brands or salespeople is high on their agenda. While other important factors that influence B2B buyers are value-added services (31%), product features (19%), product reliability (18%), price (17%), and sales experience (15%). 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 selling definition in the modern sales process becomes a bit more complicated. In sales training, salespeople are being taught how to do adaptive selling, meaning that they adapt their sales efforts to that specific customer, a process that involves asking questions, reading the customer’s reactions and adjusting accordingly for each customer.
THE MAJOR CHALLENGES IN SELLING TODAY
- Buyer Habits – How do we re-evaluate our products, services and sales processes to meet changing buyer habits. How do we make buying easier?
- Disruption – combating new entrants, alternative business models, pricing pressure and the change in the buying process (longer decision cycles)
- Buyer self-education – The acceleration of commoditization and substitution due to buyer education and awareness. Buyers using the internet and social media to research solutions etc (buyers’ journey)
- More complex products and services to meet clients’ demands
- Greater market transparency and growing customer procurement capabilities
- Shifting control of the buying process toward customers
When we refer to “Digital Era” in sales, we are talking about the adoption of technologies and channels that are being employed by both companies and buyers: digital platforms, social media, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), and Big Data. This increased connectivity and information sharing is contributing to breaking up systems, functions and roles, leading to redefining our selling definition into more digital-based activities, wherein salespeople and management are required to directly participate in the creation of new added value.
The basic equation of selling can be stated as
Activity x Skill x Attitude x Knowledge = Results
Activity = number of clients visited OR Number of proposals.
Skill = ability to convert proposals to sales.
Attitude = professional and enthusiastic approach.
Knowledge = knowing your product and your market.
Results = sales.
The digital sales manager competencies
- Sales performance improvement using MEC (Motivate, Engage, Coach) to link sales activities tracking online/offline) plus Data to speed up sales outcomes.
- Digital sales confidence that integrates digital skills and capabilities into the sales team’s activities and understands the customers buying journey to position “personalised” experiences and solutions.
- To extend a multi-channel experience that delivers consistent, seamless experiences to maximise revenue potential and cost efficiency across channels.
- Comfortable with Data and Analytics to enable the sales force to identify leads and the right decision-makers.
- Relationship intelligence that leverages internal data and external data to understand relationships plus relationship strength to deliver personalised experiences.
- The ability to use high-value content-in-context to engage buyers aligned to their agenda. Also reinforcing company brand and key marketing messages in conversations and commitments.
If we want to truly transcend selling fundamentals and develop authentic, lasting relationships with our customers, remember these five principals:
- Care about the place we and our customers occupy.
- Meet our audience on their terms.
- Craft unique messaging that speaks to our unique set of customer requirements.
- A sales process that matches those seeking to do business with us.
- Build brand loyalty by extending the relationship, creating fans and not just clients.
Above all else, have a selling definition that reflects our company values and the solutions we provide by making it personal with all our customers.