There was a time when I used to hear this common phrase from business owners and sales reps; “Just give me 15 minutes with a prospect, and I’ll make them a customer.” Their sales strategy could be summed up in two words: brute force. This strategy suffers from many serious flaws, and it’s completely outdated. Gone are the days of dazzling the prospects with B.S. And then ‘closing them’ with a well-timed smile and a firm handshake. Gone are the days of sales reps holding all the cards and providing all the information prospects will rely on to make decisions; of being able to control when that information will be revealed or withheld for the benefit of the salesperson. Sadly, I still hear this phrase from time to time – and it seems caveman-like now when I do.
In his book To Sell is Human, Daniel Pink describes this condition as information asymmetry; when one party has more or better information than the other in a sales transaction. He makes the case that the information balance is being equalized, reducing the power of the seller and increasing the power to the buyer. Pink discusses the implications of this shift and how evolving sellers can understand and leverage this change.
Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Little Red Book of Selling, has made the phrase “People don’t like to be sold, but they love to buy!” into a mantra. And, he is right. We have so little patience for anything these days; turning away from broadcast and cable TV in order to gain control of time and who is selling to us. Upgrading apps to commercial-free versions in order to remove the buzz of advertisement. But the stifling of advertisements and pushing away of sellers has not changed our spending habits – only the way we buy.
Today’s buyer has more information accessible to them than anyone could ever have imagined. That information is available to them at any time, from anywhere. They can view a website, read a white paper, download an eBook, watch a video, respond to a questionnaire, chat with support representatives, connect with peers on social media and in person, and look up information about almost any company they find interesting. Through this evolution the buyer is quickly becoming the person with the power, not the company or person selling to them.
Evolving sellers recognize this shift and altering their approach.
An evolved small business sales strategy might now look something like this: We want a make it easy for prospects to buy what they need to solve their problems or fulfill their needs. We have a responsibility to understand their problems in order to ensure we are solving the right one. We have a responsibility to educate prospects about the choices and alternatives, the implications of selecting various options, the value of solving the problem, and the legitimacy of our solutions to solve their problem.
The emphasis is clearly on the prospect. Allowing them to engage and become more educated. The sales role is to guide the prospect through the buying decision, not to use caveman-like brute force to sell them.
If your sales numbers have stagnated or worse, declined, it could be that your sales strategy and sales team has not evolved. Your company could be trying to sell instead of letting the prospect buy. You can improve sales and increase revenue by focusing on your prospects’ buying journey and experience.
Piqued your interest? Feel free to download this eBook: The Marketing Hourglass, to understand how your business can engage your prospect and guide their buying journey.