We live in a world of information overload. The direct effect is that getting people’s attention is harder than ever before. Customers have been empowered with increasing access to choice and knowledge. The beginning of any purchase journey is progressively migrating online, with salespeople losing influence as prospects utilize them later in the buying process, if at all.
Selling in this new environment requires salespeople to change some of their habits and behaviors, in order to refrain from making vital errors that will adversely affect their sales performance. Below are nine mistakes that salespeople should avoid:
Relying on Traditional Presentations and Information
At a time when customers did not have a lot of access to information, simply explaining how a company worked and giving the benefits of its products or services could be deemed interesting and valuable by a prospect. Today, this information is likely to be ubiquitously available online and, therefore, known by a buyer before they ever interact with a salesperson. Salespeople, can no longer regurgitate pedestrian information. They now must give “insight”. In other words, the “aha” moment we get when we learn something new. Without this they will simply be seen as an order taker by a prospect, or even cut out of the buying process altogether.
Expecting Bashing Down Doors to Generate Leads
Cold calling and knocking on doors were two major ways salespeople generated opportunities just a few years ago. In a world where customers have an abundance of information at their fingertips, they no longer obtain any value in these “cold” interactions. Therefore, response rates are in permanent decline. Salespeople have always needed to operate in the places their customers inhabit. This is no longer sitting at their desk, in the office, or at the end of a telephone. Rather, it is online. Therefore, salespeople need to be “nurturing” opportunities online and replace the time spent making thousands of ineffective calls.
Depending on A Purchase Funnel That Is 120 Years Old
The traditional purchase funnel with its wide top, worked on the assumption that by prospecting in volume, enough opportunities would be generated to enable a salesperson to make sales. The model worked at a time when “attention” was, in relative terms, fairly easy to obtain. However, in the digital environment this is no longer the case. Consequently, salespeople are perennially struggling to create enough leads. Today, salespeople should use the new “Digital Sales Funnel”. This is a model that reflects the fact that we live in a world where “attention” is scarce. It, therefore, provides a realistic mechanism for getting attention, nurturing prospects when attention is obtained, and measuring sales effectiveness in order to monitor performance in a tangible way.
Awaiting Face-to-Face Meetings to Build Reputation
Not everyone is famous. However, within the circles in which we operate, today, we are all media personalities. That is, we have the ability to find out about an individual with whom we may do business, or with whom we have a meeting. It is now possible to form strong opinions about a person before we ever come face to face. This is an opportunity for salespeople. Today, they can build an enormous amount of credibility, and enhance their reputation, making it more likely that people will want to engage and meet them. For example, salespeople need to be asking for testimonials from every satisfied customer, encouraging them to write on public platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Salespeople should be connecting with the influential people in their sector and location, and look to interview them, present a joint webinar, or write an article for their blog. It is vital that salespeople spend time building their online reputation, which is likely to be checked out by prospects before they interact. They can no longer leave it until they are “in the room” because they may never get there.
Focusing Too Heavily on the What and Neglecting How And To Whom
In this global environment, in which we all compete, salespeople often struggle to have any compelling differentiators from their competition when they merely focus on the products and services they provide. In other words, what they do. However, in the “experience economy” in which we now all operate, it is not what you do that differentiates you. Rather, it is for whom you do it. Once the target market is established, an amazing how can be created just for that segment. For example, if an accountancy practice decides to focus its attention on entrepreneurs, then they may provide business advice clinics, a matchmaking networking service, and a more informal environment. While this how might be compelling for entrepreneurs, it could be wholly inappropriate for large corporations. Salespeople must understand that it is not what they sell but to whom they sell, and subsequently how, which may be where their main value to the customer lies.
Disappearing Into the Melee of Online Noise
In this new Digital Age, salespeople and companies alike need to utilize media channels. Like traditional media, these channels force a salesperson to take a position and to stand for something. Failure to do so, means they will just disappear into the melee of noise. There are three parts to creating a strong identity. First, one needs to establish their ethos. In other words, beyond making money, why do you care about what you do? The second is being able to articulate a strong and compelling value proposition in a sentence or less. Finally, salespeople must know their “emotional selling proposition”. That is, they must understand emotionally what they are selling. For example, the emotional deliverable of candles may be romance.
Trusting Ineffective Performance Indicators
Is collecting Facebook “likes” going to lead to more sales being created? Of the people following you on Twitter, how many are relevant and could, or would, buy your products or services? A lack of understanding of what to measure, and how to measure it, will adversely affect the chances of a salesperson being effective online. Salespeople need to understand how to measure the number of real prospects they have in their eco-system, whether these people are engaged and how, over time, these interactions can be turned into purchases.
Producing Content of No Real Value
The currency of media and, therefore, what makes a particular platform compelling, is the content that is published on that channel. No one will keep interacting with a website, blog or social media page that simply states “buy now”. In other words, in order to have prospects engage, and lead them to a purchase, the content must provide value at all times. Salespeople, therefore, need an understanding of the material that their prospects will find worthwhile. They need to know how to create compelling content, including visuals, and how to ensure the content produced reflects the core buying motivations of a customer. Failure to achieve these aspects is likely to result in a salesperson’s online activities being ineffective.
Making Ineffective Use of Time
There are a plethora of tools, apps and platforms on the market to assist salespeople with their online activities. Failure to exploit these will mean salespeople using their time ineffectively and being unable to make the most of the opportunities that the digital environment provides. For example, social media management and monitoring tools, CRM and Social CRM platforms, and Content Creation Tools are a must in order for salespeople to make the best use of their time when engaging on digital platforms.
It is all too easy for salespeople to get into a routine, while focusing on tasks and trying to achieve results. Often, they don’t have time to reflect on their activities and question some of their own behaviors. In order to be successful, the digital environment demands that salespeople undertake certain activities differently from previous times. Failure to act will leave salespeople underperforming and struggling to achieve the results they desire.