Many of the entrepreneurs I speak with despise or are intimidated by the sales process and quite frankly it has changed so much over the last decade that YOU actually don’t have to sell much at all anymore.
Let’s first think about our customers and how darn smart they are once they actually get to us. They are generally very informed prior to reaching out; yes they still have a need that we can fill but NO ONE picks up the phone or types an email or fills out a ‘contact me’ box on a web page prior to a great deal of research into your product or service and most of your competition.
The initial stages of a complex sales cycle can be done by an effective website, not by cold introductions on the phone or at a trade show. Just positioning your business correctly on-line and addressing the anticipated needs of your ideal customer can put you miles ahead of the game when it comes to finding new business.
In my opinion the best part about the evolving sales cycle has to be that we seek to have conversations with prospects, not forced sales pitches. Gone are the days of an aggressive sales person hammering away trying to close a deal… Lead generation has shifted to a series of targeted conversations (I think we collectively breathe a sigh of relief here).
The goal is to become a resource for our prospects, gain trust and credibility while focusing on their needs. Not pitching, as no one really needs to be pitched to anymore. Contact often begins by sending out a series of emails or newsletters and they can click over to your site and get all the information they need at any time….you are far better off to build a relationship establishing you as the solution to their needs, providing value at every interaction and building trust which will put your business in a position to help them buy. When they are ready.
Even the softest, most valued form of sales has changed: word of mouth. Many don’t like to ask even their happiest customers for referrals, as they may appear desperate and we all hope that when people are happy they just naturally share their experience. Which they do (it happens at DemGen frequently), but offering up a stellar referral or affiliate program can move that process along much faster and actually put you in a better position with your clients, showing your gratitude and recognizing their efforts.
So how did we sell before the Internet? Well, I think there were a lot of brochures and a lot of miles put on cars and planes by some great sales people that paved the way for professionals like me. But lets all put our hands high in the air for a collective high-five and feel good about the friendlier sales cycles out there today!
© 2012 DemGen All Rights Reserved.