Sales people have been taught the importance of the numbers. The number of dials made each day, contacts made, and presentations scheduled, are all metrics sales professionals have had baked into their thinking. You want more sales, make more dials. You want more presentations, make more contacts. We grind it out every day focused on persuading, manipulating and influencing the prospect just enough to get them to see things our way and then…BAM…a sale is made. I refer to sales people that fit this description as coercive contactors…make the contact and then through sheer force of will, or fear-selling, make the sale.
But times are changing. The buyer today is far more educated than in the past thanks in large part to the internet. Most agree that a majority of the buying process is completed before a buyer ever meets with a sales person. How did this happen and what does it mean to you as a sales person?
Google has changed our world. In a couple clicks of a mouse we can find information on virtually any topic or question that we could dream of asking. Volumes upon volumes of data and content reside on the web, there for the taking. In the comfort of our homes and offices, cars or restaurants, we have 24/7 access to all the information we could possibly need to make informed decisions.
For the typical sales person this poses a huge threat. Most of us were trained in the art of persuasion, manipulation and influence, in order to bring the pain the buyer is feeling front and center. And while shining a light on the buyers pain isn’t wrong or inappropriate, it is a less effective selling tool if the sales person doesn’t know what to do with the buyers pain once they’ve identified it. You see, buyers have a much better sense today whether your solution will actually help them. They’re no longer completely reliant upon the sales persons power of persuasion and instead draw from their own research and education as to what may improve their circumstance.
Whether it’s an outsourcing solution to improve business performance or a new medication to improve your health, just about any information you’re looking for is available via the web. As such the dependency on the sales person has evolved from a pitch person to a “caring connector”. A caring connector is how an authentic sales professional presents themselves in what they say, how they say it, what they do, and how they act. Forget about the super slick, fast talking sales dude. Today the successful sales pros are ones who take the time to listen, ask thoughtful questions, and perhaps most of all, be honest enough to tell the prospect just how helpful their solution will be. They demonstrate genuine care in how they connect with the buyer. This is a huge mind shift in sales. In fact, many recent studies conducted by Harvard Business Review, as well as, in many books authored on sales including Jeff Thull’s recent Exceptional Selling, show proof that being willing to walk away from a sale because there’s simply not enough value there, actually enables you to sell more. The premise is that once someone trusts that you have their best interest at heart, and in mind, they’ll come back to you again and again. Additionally, once you’ve determined that there is little value to the prospect to move forward with your solution you stop forcing a sale and move onto the next opportunity, again freeing your time to engage with a buyer whose needs and circumstances better align with the value you provide.
So try it. Try shifting from that coercive contactor to the caring connector and watch your sales grow.