Today, buyers are in charge.
Google is our first stop during any shopping excursion. We check out a company’s site and blog and YouTube channel before considering doing business with them. We fire up LinkedIn an hour before an initial business meeting. We check out the CEO’s Twitter feed to see what she is up to.
Most companies are still selling as if it were 1999
For decades, centuries even, selling has been about pushing a product or service at people and trying to get them to pay attention.
Selling has traditionally been conducted on the seller’s timetable. Companies had sales campaigns. They staged sales “events” when products were offered at a discount. Salespeople had quotas tied to the end of the month or end of the quarter.
Can you see the pattern? All of these reasons to sell are company focused, not buyer focused.
Traditional sales force automation and customer relationship management systems make things worse
The CRM and SFA software used in many companies is flawed because the algorithms they are built on still reflects the old paradigm in which the salesperson initiates the action.
These software systems were developed in the era of traditional selling, when salespeople made cold calls and followed up on sales leads. These systems use outdated sales technologies that surface “opportunities” based on some time-based formula.
Today, if I’m interested in buying something, I go to a dozen websites and do the research. And then at some point when I’ve built up my body of knowledge, I reach out, typically electronically, and tell the company that I’m ready to take to the next step. The old CRM systems don’t manage this process well. CRM as it exists today wasn’t designed and built for a world in which the buyer is in charge.
Focus on your buyers
The idea of mystery in the sales process is over. Today, successful selling is best when conducted as a real-time function than one that you plan in advance.
Successful salespeople and the companies that employ them understand that when a buyer is ready, that is the time to engage. It’s much better to watch what buyers are actually doing on your website and on social networks.
Did they just visit a page on your site? Which one? Did they download something?
How quickly are you responding to inquiries? It should be in minutes, not days.
What are buyers saying on social networks? Can you answer a question?
What’s happening in the news and in your marketplace?
You will be more effective by paying attention to buying signals than by aggressively selling. By living in real-time, your selling is perfectly aligned with the moment when buyers are ready.
Image: Shutterstock / Lonely