In sales, we are experiencing an embarrassment of riches and yet we are impoverished.
Just look around the offices of most sales organizations. You’ll see computers, telephones with headsets and auto-dialers, mobile devices, CRM systems, and numerous apps and software programs that support selling activities in every conceivable way.
Needing to beef up a particular skill? Well, take your pick of the myriad of training programs, seminars, books, podcasts and other resources that are easily accessible right online at your fingertips.
What more could a seller want?
Turns out, the answer is plenty. Sellers in virtually all industries and in all types of sales feel there’s something lacking.
That certain something is a genuine connection with the buyer. A faster connection. A more lasting connection. A stronger connection.
More and more, sales organizations are addressing this problem with new technology, new performance standards, new products, and new sales processes. The allure of the newest, hottest, coolest products draws sellers in with the promise of paving the way to improved sales results.
And yet, each year a smaller percentage of sellers make quota. A growing number of buyers say they’d rather skip the engagement with a seller altogether. Even though we have more stuff to sell with, selling has never been more difficult.
Perhaps we should listen to the wisdom of Ariel, The Little Mermaid, who sings:
Looking around here you think
Sure, she’s got everything
I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty
I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore
You want thingamabobs?
I’ve got twenty!
But who cares?
No big deal
I want more…
I wanna be where the people are…
Are we drowning, way down deep in the depths of an ocean we call “technology” that is actually dividing us from our buyers? Maybe we need to come up for air and go where the people are.
Maybe what we need is more human-to-human connections. H2H.
The simple notion of connecting has become confusing, and we get led astray by the mixed messages out there. Social media is no substitute for reaching out directly, one individual to another. Too often, e-mails are a lazy and lame replacement for telephone calls or in-person visits to buyers. Technology may be efficient, but it simply can’t replace the H2H exchange.
At the risk of sounding old-fashioned, let me give technology its due. I use apps and tools and programs enthusiastically and appreciate any time-saver and sales enablement I can find. I enjoy knowing what’s new and what’s next, and I do a pretty good job of trend watching and early adopting.
I’m not suggesting we should abandon the tools that serve us well.
What I am hoping to remind us about is this. No technology or shortcut or device will do the job of selling for you. On the contrary, many sellers use their gizmos and gadgets in ways that interfere with or delay progression through the sales cycle.
Take an honest look at the parts of the sales process where you get stalled. For many, it’s in getting through to prospects and/or getting appointments set for initial meetings. For others, it’s getting forward motion at the proposal stage with pending deals lost in limbo.
Wherever you are getting stuck, evaluate the methods you’re using to make a genuine connection with buyers. An over-reliance on e-mails may be blocking your progress. Or perhaps you’re putting too much stock in all those voice mail messages you’re leaving. After all, it feels like you’ve done something when you leave the message, notate it in your CRM, and move on to the next prospect. But, in fact, you’ve done nothing at all to advance the sale. There was no genuine connection made.
When sellers focus on making a genuine connection with their buyers, everything changes. Rapport is established. Trust is built. Relationships are formed. Sales are made.
Anything less than a human-to-human connection shouldn’t be called a connection at all. It’s a contact made, a ping, an itty bitty ripple in the pond. It doesn’t count anywhere at all except, perhaps, in misguided activity standards that have been set.
What would you do if it were an old friend that you wanted to get together with? Would you send a generic form letter? Would you leave a vague voice mail? Would you do an e-mail blast? Or would you figure out how to connect on a more personal and meaningful level?
That’s what you need to do with buyers, too. Find ways to get introduced and look for common ground that lends itself to a natural, genuine connection. Strive to make a personal H2H connection. That’s the one and only way you will build a bridge over the gap that divides you.