We have all heard that Sales is in the middle of a huge transformation, focused on buyers, their concerns, their worries, and their patterns. There are many evolving theories and approaches, some of which will bear the test of time and others which will fall by the wayside.
While all of this new construction is in progress, it is important to maintain sales fundamentals—those elements that serve as the very foundation of your sales house, that have consistently made great sales possible throughout the years. With that foundation in place, you can then update and remodel your older, traditional spaces, add modern touches, and take advantage of the latest in technology to make your sales house a resounding success.
A great sales house is of course built on a foundation of relationships, trust, and creating value with your clients. The house constructed on top of that foundation is part tried-and-true (like the dining room with chair rail and the antique buffet), along with more modern (open spaces and enormous windows).
Traditional rooms of the past in Sales have been primarily cold calling and trade shows. These traditional approaches still have a place and should be included in your Sales house — with updating and perhaps a skylight to freshen and modernize the space.
As an example, cold calling today cannot be conducted with the idea of making a pitch and a close on that first call. That first call should simply be a quick qualification (Are you talking to the right person to make a buying decision?), a way to get the lay of the land as to the company’s need, to plant the seeds that your product or service might be of value to them, and to schedule a time when you can make a further presentation. All of your sales skills come into play in that short time; you’re basically selling the next stage of your sales process, and beginning to establish trust.
Similarly trade shows are no longer conducted for just setting up a booth and handing out free bags, t-shirts, mugs or mouse pads. Prior to the show you try to get an idea of who is attending and find out what percentage of show attendees might be potential customers. You cleverly qualify anyone that stops by your booth so you waste as little time, effort, and budget as possible. You target qualified visitors by immediately showing the value of your product through your displays, your literature, and your presentations. Treat any qualified prospect that stops by as a potential long-term business relationship.
The latest addition to the Sales-focused house is social selling. Social selling activities have established a foothold and, when added, will increase the value of your property.
Your prospects are out there in the social media world, seeking solutions, user reviews of products and services, and voicing their needs. Your sales reps should be out there as well, fielding questions, offering help where appropriate, and—most importantly—establishing relationships. Make social prospecting mandatory, and your reps will soon see the immense value in it.
Learning new tech means getting accustomed to new ways of monitoring your property by installing features like energy saving thermostats, heated floors, and security measures. In Sales, coaches need to be aware of how sales reps are interacting in each of the channels with prospects — and how prospects are interacting with the channels. Cloud-based apps mean that reps are interacting with social selling technologies through their CRM tools and useful integrated apps. These tools (many of which seem to have figured out that salespeople work better with visual cues!) work together through integration with CRM, and sales managers benefit from CRM efficiencies by gaining time — time to train, coach, and mentor their team.
A great example of such an app is a product called Socedo, a lead-generation solution for obtaining leads from social media. Socedo isolates social prospects that match user-defined custom criteria, then further qualifies them via predefined engagement workflow.
Don’t Let Your Sales Real Estate Languish
Sales is no longer a 1-bedroom house. Your responsibility as a sales professional or executive is to continuously update and renovate your environment. The changes in the selling environment will continue — fast and furious.
Keep the foundations strong enough to build upon. Be vigilant in maintaining your property through traditional, non-traditional, and technology-conscious resources. Ensure that the reps are utilizing the tools to make them effective and efficient (you can not put on a new roof without a ladder). Give sales managers the tools they need to measure the effectiveness of their actions, train their apprentices, improve their pipeline of future business, and increase revenues with non-traditional and emerging channels.
Then your building will weather any storm.