Trends show that we’ve entered into an age of buyer empowerment. Our prospects now have the ability to research offerings and make decisions independent of communication with sales reps. Some reports state that the average buyer is nearly 70% through the sales process before they contact a rep.
While the buyer’s habits have certainly changed, the typical sales strategy has been slow to adapt. Sales professionals must combat their limited time and reduced influence by honing in on the fundamentals.
Here are the 12 demands on the modern sales professional. Address them and see your success skyrocket. Forgo them and see your reputation tarnished:
#1 Qualification Talents
Plain and simple, the faster you can qualify your prospects, the more business you will close. Renowned sales author Geoffrey James said it best: “The bane of every B2B sales pro is the false prospect—a prospect that’s never going to become a customer.”
Salespeople strike-out frequently. The ability to bounce back from rejections ranks high in the list of tools necessary keep moving forward. If you’re going to win in sales, you’ll need to make positivity, expectancy, & excitement part of your day to day experience.
#3 Digital Savvy
By adopting new tools & technologies, sales reps can eliminate bottlenecks. It’s a good idea to learn how to manage multiple social networks. Meeting & communicating with prospects in their preferred choice of medium goes a long way.
#4 Research Habits
Knowing the obvious: your prospect’s company, position, url, and product is only the beginning. Use the internet to your full advantage. It has become the largest source of sales data in the world. Start simple by fully utilizing social networks or feed readers and then progress to sales intelligence software.
#5 Listening Skills
One of my favorite sales quotes on listening comes from famed Venture Capitalist Mark Suster. He cautions: “Don’t be a crocodile salesman, big mouth & no ears”. Only by listening intently can you understand your buyers’ needs and emotions.
#6 Ability to Combat Objections
As a sales fundamental, the ability to handle objections separates the weak from the strongest of professionals. A strong strategy is to get all your prospect’s concerns out on the table as early as you can and be careful not to argue, get defensive or "score points" when handling them.
#7 Presentation Style
Today’s sales pro needs to be comfortable presenting their offering across many mediums. One idea is to always be striving try to make your presentations shorter, simpler and more effective. Removing buzz words wherever you can will also help differentiate you from other reps. Practice and rehearsal are paramount for presentation style.
#8 Trust Building
You must build intimacy & trust so that the customer shares the details of their business with you. Trust building starts on first contact. Start small by sharing your knowledge of their industry, and showing them you care what's best for their company. Making commitments and following through is a surefire way a potential customer can learn to trust you.
#9 Referral Maximization
Referrals are often the warmest leads you’ll receive. Interestingly, sales professionals are notorious for not asking for referrals enough. There’s no reason to be shy about asking for them. More than often you’ll find contacts are happy to share them with you. One idea is to let your customers know you value referrals, which you earn by providing them with high quality offerings and customer service.
As a sales professional you MUST learn how to tell stories. And they have to be tailored for each type of customer and situation. Studies have shown that emotion frequently proceeds logic when making purchase decisions. A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm through a compelling story will go farther than a great idea that inspires no one.
#11 Closing Talents
Make the closing process a series of small wins leading up to a closed deal. When the prospect says yes, quit talking.
#12 Writing Strength
A great sales rep conveys a point clearly and concisely. For most reps, writing (emails, proposals, blogs, referral requests, etc) is the single thing you do more than anything else. Strengthen your skills in this department by reading and writing daily.
No longer is “just winging it” sufficient for the sales professional. Treat your career like a calling and become an expert in these areas. Meeting these demands will allow you to realize your full potential as a sales professional.