Time has always been the most precious sales commodity. It is finite, unstoppable and a minute passed is gone forever.
While technology has certainly helped sales people operate more efficiently, it has also opened new areas that demand to be covered. Thank about Social Media/Social Selling and LinkedIn. For the successful B2B Sales person the opportunities created here can’t be ignored. But what about the other things that your sales reps do to earn a living and keep your business away from the competition? Is there not continuous pressure to stay in touch with new contacts, new prospects, possible leads, lapsed customers, long term buyers and inbound inquiries (to name a few)?
There are some who will say that outbound sales calling is dead. I, and a few million other “bosses” beg to differ. Calling and writing are alive and well and happening in almost every business organization.
Even the oft quoted CEB Study – source of the infamous stat – 57% of a (B2B) customers progress in purchase decision making is complete before they engage with a sales rep – also clearly shows that high performing Sales Reps engage customers early to disrupt and challenge their customers assumptions.
Early engagement, is critical to reset a prospect’s buying criteria, unless you’re OK with potential customers doing all their own research, based on their own assumptions, developing preferences and only engaging your company when they’re ready to grind you down on your pricing.
So, sales is still dialing and writing and researching new opportunities and now using social media as another route to build credibility and contacts. It’s a lot of ground to cover and too many days can pass with the uneasy sense that you simply didn’t make enough of an impact on your market.
Sales has always been an exclusively one-to-one contact model and that has to change to have any hope of covering your market and staying in front of the many, many prospects who will happily move down the sales cycle without engaging a sales rep.
Create an opportunity to challenge their existing assumptions about:
- how to achieve their business goals
- what solutions are available for the problems they face
- what new opportunities exist to correct problems they’re not aware of, only because they’ve been taken for granted for so long
- what is and isn’t good enough
- where is the best value to be found
At the same time you need to be heard in a very, crowded marketplace. That usually requires a lot of repetition, persistence and message variety. The phone, alone, is not enough. Email alone is not enough.
Nowadays, top performing sales reps need to master both one-to-one and one-to-many communication styles, which means taking some lessons from marketing on list management, campaign management, progressive content creation and integrated communications. Top performing reps know how to talk to a single person, now it’s time to learn something new.
Smart sales campaigns will cover more ground in the same amount of time as individual outreach and that boost in productivity seems to be necessary, now.