Selling is not same anymore!
Fast forward 20 years and I was to do it again! Now I realized that everything about sales has changed. Most importantly the customer has changed! They are no more the same simple human beings who would listen to all sales guys who would help them identify the needs, provide Feature benefit analysis and then help create a product/feature/price comparison chart. That was primarily happening because the Salesperson was the only source of information at that point of time. The customer would listen to the sales people of various companies and then draw his own conclusion on whether he needs that product or not. If he does, which provides best price performance ration? Those were good old days and hence the Sales person had to do was to be presentable, articulate nicely and manage relationship. Nothing else mattered as far as the Sales Person was concern. However, most relationships were o and off as when the sale was complete and the only time they saw each other was when the customer wanted to buy again or if the sales person has changed the company/product.
So what has changed now or how has the customer changed? Well I realized that in todays information age, the customer is not sitting in his office an waiting for a salesperson to come and educate him/her on the products! The customer is no more wanting for a third person (a salesperson) to come identify their needs, match it with company’s products feature and benefits and then start negotiation to get best price performance ratio! Not any more. Thanks to internet and information age Todays customer is well researched, he knows his needs very well, he knows what features or benefits they are looking for and also they are fully aware of commercials deals available in the market for various products & services. In fact in most cases the customer would fox the salesperson by their product knowledge, its applications and justifiable price!
So How does a salesperson sell? This the difference I am trying to explain:
1. Think B2B2C: Most sales person are still trapped in the mindset of B2B and B2C! This is a myth. There is nothing called B2B as everything is about a consumer and what some people call B2B is actually B2B2C. So unless a sales person does not understand the consumer of his customer, he will not be able to match his product to the customers need. The customer need is to satisfy and delight his consumer! So unless a sales person does not think that far, understand the consumer needs/behavior of a particular product/service, the economics of the pricing and his post purchase behavior, his customer is not going to respect the sales person. Hence it is important that every sales person thinks for consumer first, understands the consumer buying journey and then aligns their products/ services to help its customer be a part of that Consumer Buying Journey. That will earn a salesperson lot of respect and sales from the customer.
2. This is Information Age Dude: Todays customer is ready for a sales person all the time. They have their research, their questions and there answers, Their Need and the products that satisfy their needs and hence a virtual sales person can do a physical sales person’s job! As sales person YOU ARE NO MORE REQUIRD! Really! No, they still need a sales person but they a sales person who has more INFORMATION, is more KNOWLEDGEABLE and UNDERSTAND THEIR CONSUMERS even more! The sales is all about More INFROMATION, making the customer realize he/she has all KNOWELDGE about their users/consumers at large, the INDUSTRY/VERTICAL and its FUTURE.!
3. Earn Customers Respect: As I said earlier that in good old days Salesperson believed in ‘Just Sell ‘ or ‘Sell at any cost’. However, it has dramatically changed now and one can blame it on “this information age”! Salesperson can’t be pretentious any more as now the sales is all about knowledge and mutual respect! Earlier one could get away buy telling stories about customers who either didn't exists or if exists, there was no way to verify the credibility of the story. Now that verification is just a email away! So honesty and transparency, the sales person of today have to clearly demonstrate that one has complete knowledge of their customers consumer, their needs, their pain points, their buying behavior, their post purchase behavior, their social behavior, their profile, the demographics, , ect etc.. If a sales person is able to demonstrate this explicitly, their customers will respect them thus establishing a strong professional relationship based on Mutual respect
4. Relationships are Based on Mutual Respect: All relationships are based on mutual respect and the respect can only be earned. So by now readers of this article must have realized that how important it is to be knowledgeable on everything related to their customer as that is the only way a salesperson can earn respect of his customer. Respect thus earned shall last longest and also benefit both the parties mutually. There is old saying in India that knowledge is something that more you distribute, more you gain! So like every knowledgeable person, a salesperson should go out there and share his knowledge by not only engaging with his customers but also with consumer at large to gain more and more insight into their behavior and then collating the information to create customized solutions utilizing his/her products and services!
5. Its Skill Based: There is more to sales than just talking. Its is research, experience, articulation, ability of connecting the dots and creating that rainbow called solution for the customers who’s only focus is to get resolves to their problem. These are skills that need to be acquired. Hence the organizations and individuals need to upgrade their skills periodically. They need to research their customer domain, understand the nuances, study the road map of the future etc etc. This would enable the sales person to find need areas, help discover new consumer needs and come up with innovative solutions. All this will only earn respect as professional and lead to higher sales!
In all, when see myself as consumer, I am able to identify my customers need! Once I have done that, building solution is a matter of applications my products and services can provide to provide effective valuable solution. This is true for both, physical and virtual sales people as well as for brick and mortar as well as online virtual sales organizations.