Every marketer and business executive understands the concept of positioning. They position and reposition product lines, service offerings and corporate identities all the time. And now it’s time for businesses to take a long hard look at how to reposition their sales teams within a business environment filled with buyers who avoid sales like the plague. And dare I add that it’s also time for Sales Teams to at least support, if not demand, that their role be adjusted? Why? Because a sales team that no one wants to talk to is no good to their buyers and no good to their employers.
But, you might say- and I would agree- that no one has EVER wanted to talk to sales people. That’s why businesses have historically employed the tactic of only allowing access to important product, pricing and market information through the sales team. You want the information – you get the questions and the sales follow up. Sometimes its thought of as sales harassment.
But that isn’t working anymore thanks to the Internet. Information like product pricing, specs and user experience is almost impossible to hide and it’s counterproductive to try. But prospective buyers can sidestep the sales team until they’re already made their decisions and THAT spells disaster for sales – both sales revenue and sales people.
I find it impossible to imagine that a well prepared sales professional cannot add tremendous value to the conversation among prospects, customers, marketing and technical resources. Understanding needs, offerings, influences and points of resistance a true sales pro can bring MORE value to the table for buyers looking to solve a problem, but only if they can get into the conversation.
Letting sales back into buying conversation, before the decision has been made is the objective of the repositioning exercise.
There’s an irony here. One of the banes of sales has historically been the interference of the traditional gatekeeper. Every sales situation has them. They are the people and obstacles that prevent sales reps from making contact with the people who will influence the purchase of their product. The irony of course is that the sales people are now paying for the backlash that came about because they themselves were gatekeepers and the influencers found a way around them.
There’s another level of irony at play here as well. Social media, which has displaced sales as an early information source can be instrumental in helping to reintegrate the sales team back into the conversation. An earlier post about the role of the human voice in social media talks about the positive impact that putting a real human voice into your social media can have in helping contacts better interact with your communications.
The first question is, “Are you willing to evolve your sales team beyond the current “closer only” function and bring a human voice in your social marketing/communications or would you rather simply let the role die?”
The second question is “How will you bring that human voice to your social communications?”