Changing Face of Selling– Adapting Selling Models in Digital Age, Internet, Social Media: Role of Sales People…

Selling models must constantly change to adapt to changing markets– the right ‘selling model’ is crucial! When people talk about ‘pace of innovation’ they typically focus on its impact on development teams, and how they are struggling to keep-up. But what about the people who have to sell those innovations? Today, the sales environment is changing so rapidly that it’s all too easy for sales organization to fall behind…

According to CSO Insights; almost every aspect of selling is evolving, e.g.; complexity of products/services, complexity of selling channels, complexity of competitive activity, complexity of rapidly changing technology… Research shows that may sales organizations are failing to meet sales objectives; despite the fact that there are more– sales improvement consultants, sales training experts, CRM tools…

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The major changes that are causing more than 74% of sales forces to struggle can be attributed to a few key dynamics, e.g.: greater scrutiny and purchasing controls, more decision-makers from more business units, difficulty creating differentiation between the top competitors, global competition, and the influence of the Internet and social media…

The good news is that ‘some’ sales teams are beginning to understand these new dynamics, and are beginning to realign their organization with a more comprehensive approach toward developing– strategy, systems, salespeople…

Selling is never about product/service comparisons and price cutting; it’s about realizing the relative and unique value, best fit, fair market pricing… that a business has to offer… Also, How salespeople ‘sell’ — is just as important as; What salespeople ‘sell’…

In the article Millennials Are Changing Way Companies Sell by Pascal Persyn writes: The new generation buyer has grown up with the Internet, smartphones and social media at their fingertips, shaping their appearance and interactions with the world. According to Marc Prensky; a 21 year-old entering the workforce, on average, played video games for 5,000 minutes, exchanged of 250,000 emails, instant & text messages, and had 10,000 hours of cell phone use… Staying connected is more important than ever in a world where people use technology to share ideas, information…

According to Josh Bernoff; it’s ‘age of the customer’ and this is different type of customer with different priorities… And, for companies to accommodate these new generation buyers they must change the way they do business…

In the report Changing face of Selling by Forrester writes: Nearly one-quarter of all B2B sales people will lose their jobs by the year 2020– this may be the beginning of the end (‘death’) of the traditional (B2B) salesman… Many B2B buyers now favor ‘do-it-yourself’ online options for researching and buying products/ services, and they are demanding that B2B sellers fully enable those digital paths to purchase… B2B companies that want to stay ahead of the curve must therefore reshape sales strategies and fundamentally rethink the role of salespeople…

The evidence is clear: nearly 75% of B2B buyers now say that buying from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales person. Further, 93% say that they prefer buying online rather than from a sales person, when they’ve decided what to buy. B2B companies that wait too long to create self-serve eCommerce websites risk losing share to pure plays and omnichannel competitors… Further, there is growing disconnect between B2B ‘buying’ preferences and traditional B2B ‘selling’…

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One interesting aspects of the Forrester report is the alignment between ‘buyer’ and ‘seller’ archetypes, e.g.; buyer archetypes is the relationship between ‘complexity of solution’ and ‘complexity of buying’. And, the variations of sale models that impact these archetypes, e.g.;

  • ‘Serve Me’ buyers are served by ‘Order Taker’ sales model… they may or may not involve any human intervention… Forrester project that 33% of these ‘Order Taker’ sales jobs will disappear by the end of the decade…
  • ‘Show Me’ buyers are served by ‘Explainer’ sales model… they help the buyer to gather, interpret information that compares alternative options. Forrester project that 25% of these ‘Explainer’ roles will disappear by the end of the decade…
  • ‘Guide Me’ buyers are served by ‘Navigator’ sales model… they help the buyer to — map, navigate, orchestrate… multiple stakeholders. Forrester project that 15% of these ‘Navigator’ roles will be eliminated by the end of the decade…
  • ‘Enlighten Me’ buying is a team effort that is mostly involved with complex selling and buying scenario… they call for ‘Consultant’ sales model… this is the only sales role that Forrester expects to grow over the decade by about 10%…

In the article Changing Face of Sales by Russ Lombardo writes: Most customers are smart buyers– they use Internet to research– companies, markets, competitors… Often times these consumers knows more about the company they are buying from than company itself. Today’s buyers are looking for someone they can trust, someone they can rely on, and someone who can help them solve problems in the quickest and most economical way. In other words, most customers want a trusted partner in business, which means a very different approach to selling…

Today’s successful sales people must know more about customers than ever before– they must research business, industry, management… they must ask intelligent questions, listen intently, propose creative and viable solutions (even if it doesn’t involve their offerings). This means building relationships, thinking beyond a sale, provide; support, information, education… most important, assist the customer to succeed in their business…

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In the article Trends Changing Sales by Tina Nguyen writes: Sales people are no longer in charge of the buyer’s journey… Selling is about solving buyers problems and salespeople must adapt to the new generation buyers… The modern buyer is more informed and typically the buyer’s journey starts with a search on Internet for information about all their relevant issues… This is an important shift from traditional buyer behavior which was to first contact salespeople… Hence, selling has become a process of engagement, and mirroring the behavior of the buyer…

For sales organizations to remain relevant, they must be more focus in outreach messaging, more analytical, more relationship oriented.  Buyers expect sales people to be trusted advisors who are offering them a solution to their unique pain points…

According to Jorge Soto; a seller’s product/service works very much the same for everyone, but a sales person’s story must be different from customer to customer. The story a sales person creates must address the specific buyer’s journey, pain points… Big Data is more than buzzword, it’s term that refers to the increasing volume of data around every person, company…

Traditionally sales people have relied on– sketchy information derived from various unreliable source… However, the next generation of selling must leverage Big Data, and its rich source of information, and it must play a more prominent role in the selling process… Sales people must– collect, track, analyze… all the buyer’s signals and leverage that intelligence to improve buyer experience and drive a closer  alignment between buyer and seller…

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Greek myth tell how the ruler of Crete, King Minos, had an underground maze, the Labyrinth, constructed near his palace to serve as an escape-proof prison for the infamous Minotaur– a ravenous monster who is half-man and half-bull… Anyone who enters the maze becomes hopelessly lost, and once that happen the Minotaur finds and devours them… OK great story; What does this ancient myth have to do with selling? Actually, quite a lot… In selling today, especially at the corporate level a sales person must contend with an organizational labyrinth…

 Selling is getting more complex… and not only do sales people have to contend with the multiple decision-makers, but many may be located in diverse and distant geographic locations… To make things even more challenging sales people can’t be sure that the same people, who said yes on one deal, will have the same authority in two weeks or even two days later for a second deal to the same company.

In an era of downsizing, nonstop mergers, and executive musical chairs, selling has become so complicated, and so fraught with unknowns, that the labyrinth metaphor may even be a little too conservative… Admittedly, the type of monster you usually encounter in the business maze is not exactly the hungry Minotaur variety…

But figuratively; it happens every day; and there’s absolutely no way to prevent a tragic ending unless an organization has an effective strategy, i.e.; one that has the right plan of action, right organizational structure, at the right time, with the right people, doing the right things… A selling organization must be properly aligned through the maze of selling opportunities…