The sales function has changed so much in the past few years that you could be doing everything completely wrong!
With the economy slowly edging upwards, 2014 is promising in many sectors. Retailers are upbeat, automakers are enjoying rosy forecasts and businesses across the board are looking forward to a good year. To capitalize on the trend, companies are gearing up their business strategy to increase their sales efforts. But what if you’re going about it all wrong? Sales, like most other business functions, has changed fundamentally over the past two decades, and the traditional methods simply don’t cut it anymore.
Here’s what you need to know to thrive in 2014.
“Tactics” Are Dead, Long Live Sincerity
In the past, sales people were often trained to use high pressure sales tactics, including:
- Tapping into the customer’s fears or concerns
- “Shutting the gate” – a method of selling based on the threat that an offer was only available for a short time
- Luring with the promise of a freebie based on the purchase.
These tactics are now way out of date, and sincerity is the buzzword for 2014. Consumers are much more aware of their rights and exercise much stronger choices.
Sales people these days need to be attuned to what their buyer is thinking, and look for ways they can help him solve his problem—not just buy their product. They need to be experts in their field and be prepared to apply that expertise to helping the customer.
Selling is Out, Coaching is In
Over recent years, consumers have developed a strong distrust of sales efforts. People don’t want to be “sold to,” they don’t want to part with their money and above all, they don’t want to be scammed. As a result, companies are embracing coaching in their business strategy as a new route to selling their products and services, with the idea that it’s more respectful, it’s considerate of the prospect’s needs and it’s all about the customer.
To make coaching work for your company, your sales people need to learn that it doesn’t matter if they don’t actually sell anything, as long as they help the customer. And you likely need to restructure their compensation to reflect that.
It’s All About Building Trust
So the logical question is: how does that help you to grow your business? Simple. It’s all about building trust.
Customers need to feel that your sales person:
- Listens actively to them and has their best interests at heart
- Possesses real expertise in his (or her) field that can be put to work solving their problem
- Is respected in the industry for his integrity and ethics
Customers need to view sales people as trusted advisors rather than marketers, and be able to rely on them to help them make a choice to buy rather than force a purchase onto them.
Technology is Top of the Pops
We live in a digital era, and – unless you’re selling horse manure by the bucket load – your sales processes need to be tech-savvy enough to stand up against your closest competitors. Sales tools such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems and automated lead nurturing enable you to extend your reach far beyond that of your human sales force. Advanced analytics and tracking reports provide insights for your business strategy that help you achieve your sales goals faster and more effectively than a traditional sales approach ever could.
Standing looking ahead into 2014, we believe it’s going to be the year when sales people who develop their personal brand, build trust and bring value to each interaction with their customer will dominate the marketplace. Make sure they’re working for you!