I have read a plethora of articles and commentary recently about Sales 2.0 and there is an air of inevitability that at some point in the not too distant future, many of tasks now routinely handled by "salespeople" will become automated - in fact it is already happening.
But, and this is a really big but, in my view, there will always be a place for the professional business consultant - the "Top 5% Player" - these people never sell anything, but they do assist their clients in making sound buying decisions.
However, this is a wake-up call for the "order takers and marketers" because gone are the days in which a salesperson could simply walk into an office, establish a good rapport with the client, show he/she had thorough knowledge of their products and services and clinch the sale.
Nowadays, the emphasis is on establishing long-term, mutually beneficial relationships and in order to achieve this, the salesperson needs to earn the right to continue discussions with his/her client. Before they can proceed to sell their products or services, the salesperson needs to reassure the client of their integrity, reliability, and ability to understand and recommend the appropriate solution.
They can do this by demonstrating:
• Up-to-date knowledge of business news and current affairs.
Best practices include - reading newspapers, magazines, journals, trade publications and other sources of business information; maintaining membership of appropriate professional organisations; acknowledging gaps in knowledge and taking steps to fill them; locating or developing databases with information on customers, their industries and their own customers.
• An in-depth understanding of the customer's industry, company and strategies as well as an appreciation of "the big picture."
Best practices include - gaining an understanding of the issues at all levels of the customer's organisation including strategic, departmental, and individual needs; seeking to understand the customer's perceptions of market trends, company direction, plus potential product and service needs.
• A readiness to exchange information and ideas between the supplier and client organisation.
Best practices include - familiarising the customer with your own industry and companies; sharing useful business information even if it does not directly impact on the sales effort; demonstrating the cost-cutting or revenue producing benefits of your products and services.
• The ability to listen and absorb information.
Best practices include - refining the way you identify customer's needs by asking the right questions and listening actively to customer comments; speaking at the listener's level of knowledge; using stories and analogies effectively; asking for feedback on the clarity of your message. By demonstrating comprehensive knowledge, outstanding communication skills, and the proper attitude, the salesperson earns the right to move beyond the role of supplier to that of a valued business consultant
These are just a few pointers to those wanting to stay in the game - the clock is ticking and as the man said, the one constant that we can absolutely rely on in life is change.
Big week coming up over at Business Expert Webinars with some excellent sessions planned - these are the ones coming from Top Sales Experts:
6/23/08 11:30am EASTERN TIME
Presented by Kelley Robertson
Get the Trash Out Of Your Funnel
Topic: Sales - Business Development
6/23/08 2:30pm EASTERN TIME
Presented by Joanne Black
Presentations that Win!
6/24/08 10:00am EASTERN TIME
Presented by Craig James
Championship Training: Knowing Your Buyer
6/25/08 1:00pm EASTERN TIME
Presented by Karl Goldfield
Remodel Your Referral System
6/26/08 1:00pm EASTERN TIME
Presented by Terri Dunevant
For full details of any of these webinars, simply click on the banner above.
Tomorrow: My guest on The JF Guest Author Spot is Steve Kraner, so be sure to join us.
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