December 11 by Zack Alspaugh
I have had the good fortune of hearing Mr. David Meerman Scott, Wall Street journal bestselling author and internationally acclaimed sales strategist, present on two different occasions – once at Dreamforce and again during the Sales Success Virtual Event. He is a whirlwind of information, but his message is simple. Despite being amidst the biggest communication revolution in human history where people across the globe have access to instant information and interaction, most companies insist on selling like it is still 1989.
He leads with an intriguing metaphor. Hardly anyone uses a travel agency anymore. Destinations, flights, deals, hotels, even sights to see, can all be researched thoroughly and purchased online. Questions are addressed on social media and in travel forums. If you do have to speak to an agent, most of the transaction is already complete. In B2B sales, companies still insist on using the old-world travel agency model of selling, in which the rep attempts to guide potential buyers through each step of the research and transaction process. But that’s not how customers shop anymore, and it’s definitely not how they buy.
Here is a look at 3 ways to implement agile selling and real-time customer engagement, fit for the new landscape of sales and service.
1. Cultivate Strong Content and Good Storytelling
“The web is a vast supermarket of customer information and intelligence. Smart companies understand that people have choices of who to do business with, and they are transforming the way they sell and service customers.”
As a rep your job is to get found. It’s a buyer’s market and by the time customers finally do interact with a rep, they are already 75 to 95% of the way done with their transaction. They’ve researched, paired needs with solutions, and matched pricing with budget. Deals are closed with strong content, stuff that both informs and entertains. If you can provide answers to the questions they have, or present yourself as an expert in your field, they will contact you for advice or your business. Remember, you are what you publish. And if you aren’t publishing, you don’t exist.
2. Work in Real-Time – The Time to Sell is Now
“Buyers buy when they are ready to buy. The time is now, not tomorrow, not even this afternoon. Don’t focus on your time, focus on the customers.”
Plan for now, react to now. We live in real-time; it’s important you sell in real-time as well. When a customer engages with a rep that means he or she is ready to buy, and the company that wins the deal often isn’t the biggest brand-name or the lowest price, it’s the company with the shortest response time. Imagine you want to buy a sweater, so you log onto Amazon, find the item you want proceed to checkout, and instead of completing the order you receive a message “We will help you complete your transaction next week.” Odds are you’ll be buying a sweater elsewhere. A great advantage is allowing reps complete quotes themselves, which will cut down response time dramatically. A survey shows that 4 out of 10 companies require 3 days or longer to generate a quote.
Conversely, don’t pressure customers to purchase if they aren’t ready to buy. If you’ve ever attended Dreamforce and had your badge swiped two thousand times, nothing is more off-putting than having a host of reps calling to schedule meetings about a product you don’t want and likely have never heard of.
3. Good Customer Service Leads to More Sales
“When a company delivers a fantastic experience to the market, it serves as the best sales strategy there is.”
Sadly companies put more focus on closing deals than on maintaining their customer relationships, and poor service is the norm. However, 80% of most businesses’ revenue comes from renewals. As Mr. Scott writes in his new book, “Customer service isn’t a department; it’s a state of mind. It’s a corporate culture founded on doing the right thing.” Great service will not only allow for repeat business, it will help you generate new leads. It’s a buyer’s market and consumers discuss their experience with brands with other consumers. A habit of good service will bring business to your doorstep, while poor service will torpedo deals.
Join the Conversation: “We live in real-time; it’s important you sell in real-time” @dmscott | http://goo.gl/IdxBUl