How is the evolution of the sales methodology is influenced by social media which means buyers are winning the sales race? I believe there is a struggle to shift the 20 plus year sales methods to align with buyer expectations. In my last article, I elaborated on how the sellers must transition into advisory, service-oriented organisation, basing the entire sales process on the buyer journey, rather than the seller’s objective. Now let’s explore sales methodology.
What Has Changed in the Sales Methodology?
Prior to the last 20 years of solution selling; sales training generally consisted of how to best present a specific product to make the buyer want to purchase. Well, this was the structure of my sales training, and I know many still follow this method. There was an underlying assumption that buyers did not understand their needs and the factfinding process was to find important needs that fit the sales rep’s solution.
Now the purchasing process is more complex and so are the buying units and decision-making process. Sellers created the solution selling approach, to focus on understanding the buyer’s specific pain points, building relationships, and offering the solution that fits the customer need. Sellers still had the power of holding and securing information.
Solution selling is an aggregate of other similar branded sales methodologies from SPIN, Strategic, Consultative, Customer-centric and Baseline selling.
Buyers are no longer tolerant of a sales rep’s lengthy discovery calls, as they know the needs and have researched the solutions. Then the Challenger Sale talks about uncovering unmet needs and presenting these to buyers. I do not know about you, but if I know what I want and you come to me selling something I do not need, I would find it irritating, wouldn’t you? Inevitably this creates doubt and confusion, why would you present something new at a late stage of the sales process? You are on the path to – no cigar!
The Nature of the Buyer-Seller Relationship Has Changed!
In a customer-centric environment not to give a buyer what they want and expect but instead to challenge them to think beyond their immediate known need, strikes me too late in the process and undermines the original solution you had collectively prepared.
The development of the Internet has changed the selling environment; it is buyers that have information at their fingertips and come armed with information and informed knowledge, each new version of solution selling add-on an element to gain ground on a race that buyers have already won.
57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even calls a supplier. (CEB)
67% of the buyer’s journey is conducted digitally. (SiriusDecisions)
The attention span of most customers in a digital enable world is short. Buyers value simplicity in a complex sale and the fast-moving competitive environment. If at the request for proposal stage the sales rep gives the buyer more rather than less to consider the likely response is indecision.
The authors of The Challenger Sale may have confidently declared the end of solution sales, but the biggest challenge is maintaining that selling is not about relationships. My experience and view that this is not only wrong but nonsense! The nature of the buyer relationship has changed, with the advent of social media a crucial platform to develop awareness and consideration. Yes, the nature of the relationship has changed but do not be fooled, buyers value the relationship of trusted sources. A seller must utilise social media as a channel to open and develop the buyer relationship.
The Power of Social Media to Influence B2B Decisions
84% of C-level and VP-level buyers are influenced by social media when purchasing. (IDG)
90% of a buyer’s journey being self-directed (Forrester Research’s 2015)
If the buyer is 57% through the buying process, it does not mean the seller must not engage buyers any earlier, and social media is an ideal mechanism to engage and educate your buyers who are researching solutions to their specific problem.
Whether you are solution selling of more on the side of challenging buyer, Scale Your Sales help sellers to stop selling products, value, solutions but instead to building the buyer relationships so buyers not only buy but trust the seller over the long term.
A successful social media implementation plan will include a strategy of developing long-term relationships.
Scale your Sales digitally enables sales reps to with social selling methods to engage, educate and elevate the buyer relationships into partnerships for long term value.
The relationship will help sellers present the right solution with the right critical factors tailored to the buyer or influencer in a timely manner. Scale Your Sales shows sellers and the sales reps how to build strategic relationships into lifetime partnerships. As stated in the previous article, trusted partnership place sellers at the customer table, a position to best guide and advise the buyers and customer organisation.
The Scale Your Sales methodology:
Scale Your Sales Resilience
The three elements of Resilience are Youology, Customers and Environment. Scale your sales resilience help sellers build self-awareness, customer awareness and environmental awareness. ‘People buy people’ before they buy products and processes. Even business to business (B2B) is people to people (P2P) relationship based connections of buyers and influencers in the buying process. Scale Your Sales Resilience helps sellers develop customer and environmental knowledge, the keys to understanding and capitalising on customer opportunity.
Scale Your Sales Productivity
The three elements of Productivity are Priority, Profile and Personalised Promise. Scale Your Sales Productivity helps sellers develop strong relationships into partnerships. Do you know which of your customers contribute a disproportionate amount to revenue and which cost you money? A threat to the stability of revenue is not identifying the metrics of your most valued customers. Such as the rate of customer lifetime value to cost of acquisition or the revenue churn rate and the customer effort score. Scale Your Sales helps sellers Priorities and personalise their valued customer relationships.
Scale Your Sales Attraction
The three elements of Attraction are Engage, Educate and Elevate. Scale Your Sales Attraction helps sales professional to get found, engaging in conversation to educate their buyers and influencers. Research and insights will secure your position on the buyer’s shortlist. Sale enablement will help you access further opportunities during the buying process. Scale Your Sales Attraction uses social selling strategies to build the relationship and elevate the relationship to lifetime, long term partnerships.
Next week I will talk about of Attraction strategy building your Personal Business Personality.
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
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