A salespersons lot is not a happy one - Sales advice on combining digital media and sales
Written by Professional Academy Sales Tutor, David Todman
The salesperson’s lot is not a happy one - appointments, technology, travelling and now digital media!
Time was when an external salesperson’s role was about good time management and planning, and sales skills. A typical week usually consisted of one day a week working from home making appointments, planning travel to various customers so that driving time and costs were kept to a minimum, and finalising reports.
In many cases, a CRM system listed live quotes which needed to be followed up, and a prospects list detailing future contacts which needed to be moved forward in the sales process. Many sales people saw their role as a ‘consultant’ to the customer, providing detailed specific product information which helped to win the sale and assisted the customer in implementation.
But things are changing fast - customers and prospects no longer seem to have time to see salespeople. Appointments are hard to make and overcoming barriers presented by gatekeepers when trying to get to decision makers are harder to overcome.
Prospects can also gain much more detail on-line, and the pressure to commoditise products is very strong. Professor Malcolm Mc Donald states, as a validation of high investment in innovation, ‘profits are only really made in early life cycle and buyers and users are constantly looking for new sources to further commoditise supplier’s products.
Maybe we are at last fully entering the era of what Seley and Holloway (2008) term ‘Sales 2.0’, leaving behind the familiar world of ‘Sales 1.0’ ...
In 2008 Aneke Seley and Brent Holloway in their book Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology predicted that in order for companies to maintain a competitive advantages they world have to marry innovative sales processes with developing web technologies and digital platforms.
Some sectors moved quickly to recognise this shift and advantages, particularly those sectors which were themselves technology driven. The model business blogger Christian Jannsens compares the more traditional Sales 1.0 with upcoming sales 2.0 like this:
This model demonstrates fundamental role changes for salespeople, and the need for support from an innovative management to fully implement and understand the extra time salespeople require for preparation and access to the required digital platforms. ‘One size fits all’ solutions are unlikely to satisfy informed and individual solution-minded customers.
Sales 2.0 is particularly relevant to the sales funnel development process and recognises how digital platforms assist in qualifying the potential market from suspects to prospects, and developing the buying platform.
In a series of interviews with the leading French business school INSEAD, Neil Rackham author of Spin Selling, stated quite clearly how he thought things were changing. He summed it up by saying that leading companies are ‘over investing‘ in the prospects and customers that they want to win and keep ... while less successful companies are ‘underselling ‘ to more and more prospects and still wondering why working harder on more prospects isn’t working any more. The previous technique of ad hoc cold calling is now unlikely to be successful.
Rackham’s model of how the markets are polarising is a good example of why sales people need to develop new skills and the individual proposition becomes important. At one end of the scale consultative buyers want advice and expertise, and a the other end transactional buyers want the lowest cost of aquisition and see no need to meet a salesman.
So there is a new landscape facing salespeople, and along with it a need for new skills as sales people need to gain a broader market-led business vision. Developing these skills, together with having an open mind towards the change in mind set needed, is going to be an increasingly important characteristic for successful sales managers and sales people.
Those who embrace these skills will reap the benefits – and let’s hope they do so before they have to deal with the consequences of their major competitors getting there before they do!
If you would be interested in developing your sales skills why not look into an ISMM Sales Qualification with Professional Academy? Not sure what qualification would be right for you? Then you can speak to one of our qualification advisers and ask your questions today.