How Word of Mouth Has Changed How You Adopt New Sales Methods

By Janice B Gordon | sales training

May 09
Sales Adopt to Change blog image

This week I listened to a presenter selling their new model promising untold riches to the audience of businesses.  They came from the school of multi presenter events all selling their services and model of fast success.

I am by no means saying that the content is rubbish it may very well change lives; however, in a high percentage of cases, the promise is not delivered.  Let me explain why.

  • Driven by buyers and technology, word of mouth moves fast.
  • Opportunities are abundant, but the sales life cycle of the opportunity sold is short lived.
  • Social platforms control the revenue stream through their platform and fund their growth and not the sellers. Remember when Facebook Ads delivered large margins, now the cost per click has increased!
  • The more successful the initial seller, the higher the customer dissatisfaction which turns the positive word of mouth into negative.
  • The seller must look for new prospects and cast their net wider.

What irritates me is that the presenter claims to have the secret to success stating, “do what I did, and you will succeed too!”

The fact is whether you sell a successful solution to SMEs or Enterprises, many people will not follow the methodology to the letter and those that do; only a small minority will succeed with limited success.

Here’s Why?

  • Because it is a different time.
  • Their motivation is different.
  • Word of mouth has made the new prospects and buyers cautious.
  • The costs have increased with time.
  • Everyone is selling the same promise.
  • The number of prospects and customers in the market is limited.

It is not to say that these methods do not work, methods sold on mass losses the quality in execution very much like Chinese whispers leaving room for interpretation.

Everything will work at least once, but to think you can replicate the same situation and scenario, again and again, is full-hardy – there is no secret – it did work once!

Following any method to the letter may not work in your circumstances.

The Honest Proposal Would Be:

‘What I did work for me or my customer, but I do not know if it will work for you; or your situation, however, I am happy to teach you my methods, and I expect you to adapt it to make it work for you.  I cannot guarantee success, but if you are willing to work at it, they may be some return on effort.’

This is not a promise that sells well!

All Buyers Want Guarantees

Your team is different from the next, within any team or group the motives are not the same, the time and technology have moved on along with buyer’s preference, wants and needs. You demand a risk-free guarantee of success. The problem with methodology and techniques is that they are situational and designed to address a single issue, however, situations are not static.

In economics, the law of diminishing returns states that diminishing returns is the decrease in the marginal (incremental) output of a production process as the amount of a single factor of production is incrementally increased, while the amounts of all other factors of production stay constant.

If you keep applying the same methods and techniques, you will experience decreasing success and declining results until you are forced to look for new methods and techniques.

As the situations or circumstances change, the methodology, techniques and tactics will fail, unless adapted to your unique situation and circumstances. Solutions sold on mass do not have the flexibility to adjust and so fail even if the recipient follows the methodology to the letter.

How Do You Break This Conundrum?

Better to proactively embrace a consultative approach to learning new skills and methods that:

  1. Focus on the fundamentals underlying the outcomes such as customer buying preferences, their processes and how the methods successfully engage buyers in moving them through their buying process (the outcome).
  2. Have the flexibility to co-create the solution rather than sell the solution or have regular feedback loops to adopt the solution as they are developed.

I too have a methodology, Scale Your Sales, created from years of research and implementation, but it is never the answer to a problem. It is a method or framework to discover the answers to your unique customer set of circumstances. There are, inevitably, choices your enterprise leader or implementation team will make that work for the customer outcomes but not for another.  The methods help you to engage individual buyers and customers with in-depth customer research, using the tools available in the framework to help, sellers develop relevant adapted strategies.

Scale Your Sales work on three levels to help you co-create the right strategies to solve your customer pressing needs.  The tools hold customers at the centre of every strategy helping sellers to select the techniques and tactics that are right for their unique customers.

Scale Your Sales does not teach sellers to sell but helps them to develop strategies, so their most valued buyers and customers buy.  Tactics are bespoke to the individual sales team, the preferences of their customers and buyers and the market.

Sales Adopt to Change blog article image

In complex B2B buying and selling, there can be no one right way or one method; there is no single answer or one box fits all! Complex B2B situations require active listening, strategic searching questioning, critical thinking, problem-solving, and the ability to work out the solution with the customer. Which is why, inevitably, tactic and techniques consistently fail if static.

Scale Your Sales helps sellers to better understand where they are, what they do not know and then provides the tools to fill in the gaps.  The framework helps to identify your most valued customers so you can co-create the solution bespoke to your customer’s known preferences and then to continue to develop the relationship across the organisation and create mutually beneficial partnerships.

I spoke at Accountex last week and sat through many presentations telling many professional service firms to get on social media to find their clients. My message was  to not waste your time and energy on social media until you have thought through your personal business brand personality, analysed who are your most valued customers (those you want to attract), and your strategy for attracting them, i.e. (what you uniquely offer this specific group of most valued customers). Only then can you build your techniques and tactics for attracting the right customers to your practice and develop the relationship you want with your existing most valued customer.

Every methodology must be adapted to focus your effort on the expressly stated outcomes. Whether it is your social media strategy or your customer engagement strategy.

Do not look for someone model of success to give you the answers! Make sure you understand the underlying strategic searching questions you must answer to efficiently adapt the methods or framework to attract the outcomes you want.

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About the Author

Janice is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management. She is passionate about helping companies adapt their sales approach to the economic, social and technological challenges. This has led her to create the popular the sales enablement system, Scale Your Sales. Janice is the international Strategic Account Sales Speaker, author and consultant, achieving many noted accolades including Sage Top100 Global Business Influencer 2017. Contact Janice today about Scaling your Sales