Segmentation has always been important in business but it's essential when products and services drift toward commoditization. Don't fall into the trap of allowing low margin products to be sold by outdated and expensive direct sales models. Designing customer experience determines how, when and where sales people play a role in client acquisition.
Sales people need to fund themselves from the value they create rather than from the margins that the product or service delivers.
Embrace the reality in the above statement and instead take the low value commodity products and services away from field sales people and give that sales quota to the head of marketing! Then for the complex or high value 'solutions' that remain, equip your sales people and sales managers to 'move to value' in how they engage their markets.
Sales and marketing are competencies, not departments. Marketing therefore needs to sell and sales people must become micro-marketers to attract and engage clients
But for marketing to succeed in creating exceptional customer experience, the CEO needs to become the Chief Customer Experience Officer. This post is not about the marketing department so let's move on to what is important for sales people.
For any sales person to prosper in their career they need to move beyond being good at building relationships to also embrace the elements sales mastery:
Built on the timeless foundation of business acumen, masterful listening skills andpolitical awareness to develop relationships of trust, these are the three additional elements for today's most effective sales professionals:
- Lead with insight as a domain expert
- Create tangible business [case] value for clients
- Leverage technology to be effective and efficient
Make no mistake, relationships are important but a relationship alone is not enough. Put another way; relationships of trust are an essential prerequisite for sales success but the relationship itself is NOT where the buyer sees value. Buyers today are busy and stressed, and they are not looking for new friends nor do they want to entertain 'professional visitors'. They instead require greater value from fewer relationships. They care about how their suppliers can help them achieve their goals and manage their risks.
The modern sales professional takes ownership of creating their sales pipeline
Marketing initiatives rarely create conversations with senior decision makers. Instead, senior executives and seasoned sales people are best equipped to target and engage the key decision-makers within client organizations. But hammering away on the phone with cold calls is a thoughtless and negative approach because less than 2% of cold calls yield any kind of positive result.
Rather than interrupt and push, the best approach is attract and engage on engagement platforms such as LinkedIn. To attract buyers we must show insight and relevance... salespeople must create content.
When I speak at conferences this is the assertion that sparks the most debate... sales people write content! There is an inconvenient truth today for anyone in sales: If you can't write, you can't sell. This short video John Smibert did with me explains my rationale.
Here are four reasons for sales people to write content with their managers and marketing department supporting them with ideation, proof-reading, editing and publishing tools:
- Educate yourself and develop domain knowledge and expertise
- Connect with industry leaders to build your sphere of influence
- Attract clients and an audience to support your business goals
- Build your personal brand evidencing credibility, value and insight
In an online world we are known by who we are connected to and what we publish. According to IDC research, 75% of buyers research the seller before engaging. What do they see when they view your profile? We want people to see a credible domain expert worthy of trust and an investment of time.
In my next post I will provide five topics sales people can write about but micro-marketing includes more than writing and publishing. We must also create a strong personal brand and here is how to begin. Technology also plays a pivotal role and this is where sales people should be committed to embracing CRM for the marketing team to include their prospects in lead nurturing, drip marketing and event initiatives.
The 'Updates' section of LinkedIn is very powerful, and scheduling tools such as Buffer make the process easy for sharing other people’s articles, blogs, research, infographics and Tweets. Content can easily be sourced with sales people identifying influencers in the market and individual content capture and scheduling is as simple as clicking a button in the web browser.
Sales people must consciously associate themselves with leaders who are respected by their potential clients and transform their LinkedIn profile to be a personal brand micro site instead of an online CV. Connect with leaders admired by your clients and then share their content as a 'content aggregator' who adds your own insights... working with other people's content is the easiest way to begin your content publishing journey.
If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.
Main Image Photo by Flickr: Susan Murtaugh Follow Advertising