We’re all consumers. We all like to buy on our own terms, from people or companies we like, in our own time, and at what we perceive to be the greatest value.
So, what about the seller in this equation? What does the new socially connected environment imply for those who hawk their wares in this customer-centric marketplace?
Here are three significant changes that the vast majority of salespeople must consider.
1. Relationships are NOT of primary importance. Our ability to deliver value ultimately will build the relationship---but as a by-product of the sales process, not as the primary goal of the interaction. Far too many sales professionals get caught up in the drive to build the relationship with the buyers in our target customers.
Doing that worked when we had the luxury of time and the need to gather information from people we like in order to make purchasing decisions. Now, however, we’re awash in information about the stuff we want or need to buy. We’re smarter---as consumers and professional buyers---which means that the salesperson who reaches out to us must, at least, be as educated about us as we are about them. That leads to my next point.
2. Insights are the new currency of the highly successful salesperson. This means the salesperson studies the market, the overall business climate, the specific circumstances of that prospect, and the solution to offer then offers unique insights to that prospect that put this understanding on display. The sales professional solves the problem at hand and offers insights that help the prospect to anticipate and solve future problems.
3. Those who leverage the data best will win. That data will come from various sources, take on a number of shapes and forms, and vary depending on your specific industry or segment. The highest value data source will always be (as it always has been) the voice of the customer.
That word of mouth currently exists in many forms: testimonials, reviews, stories, and even in Q&A forums on websites, in chat rooms (such as they are), on Facebook, and on corporate websites. We’re just learning how to harness word of mouth as a digital asset.
The companies who learn how to do this sooner will be the ones who win the hearts and minds of today’s consumer.