Sales in a digital world
In my experience, marketing encompasses all the strategies and activities a business undertakes to generate customer demand and make the phone ring.
Selling then becomes the process of converting that demand into sales and generally starts once a salesperson answers that phone call.
In today’s digital world, the process of selling has become more complex. The “phone” is now one of many touch points and the customer on the other end is empowered by knowledge and the ability to communicate about your brand to potentially thousands of other people in literally minutes.
The empowered consumer
The Internet has shifted the balance of power to consumer in the buying process because today’s consumer can quickly learn, compare and find opinions about any product or service.
Therefore, the interaction between sales representatives and customers is completely different today than it was 10 years ago.
Comes down to human interaction
Yes, the Internet, radio, TV and print are important marketing channels, but most sales conversion today comes down to human‑to‑human interactions.
As a business owner, you need to ensure your salespeople are prepared with the right information, skills and tools to succeed in converting today’s empowered consumer into a customer.
Let’s look at a sales process that most of us have experienced before—purchasing a car.
An example of the new sales reality
In the past you would visit perhaps eight to 10 dealerships and test drive 10 cars. Today, consumers typically spend hours researching online and narrow their search to specific brands and cars to test drive.
When they eventually walk into a dealership, they are armed with comparison pricing, friend recommendations and online consumer report information. If the salesperson at the dealership isn’t as prepared as the buyer, they are immediately at a disadvantage, and the only negotiating power they have left is probably price.
Salesperson needs to be prepared
To avoid this, the owner of that dealership has to ensure his sales team is ready to face prospects. They need a weekly data sheet, comparing products, pricing, financing deals, etc. They need training on car technology because that’s more important than ever for today’s consumer.
Information is power and the more you can give your sales team the more you will shift the balance of power in their favour.
Empowering your sales staff
A good example of this is Apple store employees. They don’t preach the virtues of the iPad or other Apple products. Marketing has already done that job.
Instead, they are there to provide product knowledge and sometimes general computer advice. This is an ingenious model because it builds trust with the customer right from the start.
No more smoke and mirrors
The art of selling is about building trust and in today’s world there are no more smoke and mirrors. If your product or service doesn’t live up to your brand promise, word will spread fast.
It’s the same for your salespeople. They need to be empowered with the right information to help them build trusted, long‑lasting customer relationships.