Recently, I was asked to present my ideas on how salespeople can best compete in today’s sales environment.
A great deal about selling has changed over the last few years, but mostly what’s changed is the way people buy and that’s what you have to understand in order to thrive in the world of selling today. (Oh, and by the way, pretty much everyone sells something.)
Buyers don’t need salespeople to provide information, they need salespeople who can provide insight, shed light on problems they don’t yet understand, and in general be so useful as to be seen as a consultant rather than the worst version of that person they got caller ID for.
In order to compete today, you must understand that your first job is to completely change the context of how you and your product, solution and organization are seen by a prospective customer.
In order to accomplish that adopt the following three attributes as core components of your sales playbook.
First and foremost you automatically change the sales context when a prospect finds you as opposed the other way around – I like to think of it as reverse prospecting. In order to do this, you must start publishing, curating, and sharing useful information. You must find ways to get invited to speak in front of audiences filled with prospective clients and you must be “optimized” as an expert when people go searching for answers.
Your consistent participation on sites like Quora, in appropriate LinkedIn Groups and Google+ Communities can greatly aid your expert brand.
One of the ways you can thrive in the world of sales today is to make competitive intelligence a core competency.
In order to be seen as an invited guest, you must be able to demonstrate your ability to provide insight and help prospects look at problems they don’t even know exist. When you can do research using a tool like RivalIQ or BuzzSumo and expertly point out glaring gaps in a prospect’s business you can gain invitation to help them better understand a specific issue before you ever try to sell them your global solution.
The diagram below is a tool that describes some of the many ways to look at a business and its community. When you deconstruct a prospect’s world based on the elements below you have the opportunity to potentially understand more about a prospects’s challenges than they themselves understand.
Add the competitive landscape and you are prepared to offer invaluable insight.
By evaluating, researching and understanding the internal and external element of a prospect you can gain tremendous insight into their needs and gaps.
The final element of the new sales playbook is to look for ways to be useful. This shouldn’t be as counterintuitive as it is to many sales people, but being useful quite often has little to do with your product or service.
Being useful may be unearthing research data that helps a client better understand their market. Being useful may mean introducing or connecting your client with someone in your social network that can help them address a personal issue. Being useful might be using a tool like BuzzSumo to help them build a list of prospective industry influencers – even though none of these things are directly related to the widget your company makes.
Being useful is one of the best ways to make a business case for changing the context of how you are seen by prospects and that’s how you dominate a market today.