A couple of years ago I undertook a major re-focus in my business. After many years of working direct with client companies, fixing broken teams and building new ones, I felt it was time to fully embrace the power of the internet and reach out to a wider audience.
I must confess, at the beginning of the change process, I began to feel I was going to need some kind of lobotomy to remove the old fashioned and outmoded principles and processes that I have practiced for the past 40 odd years that, according to the information I was collecting, clearly had no place in the modern world of internet sales!
Of course, I quickly realized that what I learned all those years ago, and have gone on to practice and perfect, is no different today, internet or no, than it has always been.
Sure, the internet makes a difference – but it does not change the rules of engagement, the requirements of people and the emotions of decision making. The internet after all, is simply a vehicle – a vehicle for reaching potential prospects and giving them information that helps them find what they want. Whether or not we believe that the personal element is unnecessary somewhere in the process of creating the sale, largely depends on what we believe the process and purpose is all about in the first place.
Ask any gathering of salespeople, as I have 1000’s of times, to describe the purpose of selling, the answers will be varied but mostly involve, “making money”, “selling products or services” and “finding prospect’s problems and providing the right solutions”.
Can there be any doubt that the last answer is the correct one?
Do it Yourself Buying.
If we care at all about our prospect’s satisfaction, both throughout the sales process and after (i.e. will they be absolutely delighted with the process and the final solution), we simply cannot leave prospects to search out the right answers alone, particularly when purchasing significant products or services. They need help to properly identify their wants, education to convert their wants to needs and guidance to find the best solution. Of course, the more complex the solution, the more complicated will be the process required for the prospect to be able make the correct decisions.
One thing that certainly hasn’t changed over the years is the general attitude towards selling as a function. Most people unfortunately view the process and the people involved with suspicion and mis-trust. For as long as I can remember, the trend has been to try and sidestep salespeople and use a ‘do-it-yourself’ process. Buying a household product such as a washing machine for example, now requires us to read the label and make up our mind on our choice by reading technical details, before then finding a counter to place the order. There are certainly very few stores that have the required knowledge available to give anything like guidance on the correct solution for the individual customer. Most purchasers in this situation will use price as their major deciding factor, missing completely the need for understanding that the correct price is the one for the product that fulfils their needs efficiently. The internet unfortunately panders to this trend and perpetuates this “DIY” notion.
The internet does not mean the death of the salesperson, far from it. For sure It produces more challenges, but those challenges are exactly the same as before the internet came into existence, simply extra competition for prospects.
Loyal Ambassadors – Higher Profits.
I have believed in, and focused on, the power of client centricity for more than four decades. The power to influence a prospect to comfortably make the correct decision, requires total interaction and full engagement. Not only does this produce highly effective sales, it also produces contented clients who become loyal ambassadors for our businesses – reducing our cost of marketing, increasing the quality and quantity of our clients and positively impacting our profits – and no internet sales process can, or will do a better job for our clients or our businesses!
However, whatever the vehicle that we use to reach clients and complete the sales process, the sales industry must accept responsibility for total client satisfaction. We cannot be happy just making sales – we must make highly effective, client centric sales, ensuring that prospective purchasers understand the true value of the sales role and seek out our services.
As sales businesses, we must ensure that our client facing staff are fully trained and continually developed to be a vital component part of our client acquisition process. We must become a go to solution and an indispensable part of any prospect’s buying process and by doing so, we will be alive and kicking for centuries to come!
I’ll finish with a story:
CFO. “We are spending far too much on staff training”.
CEO. “It’s worthwhile, we need to do it”.
CFO. “But what if we train them and they leave”?
CEO. “And what if we don’t, and they stay”?
and a quote:
“Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. “
Will Offen is a writer and international speaker. He is the creator of “Clients for Life’, which is available as a book, an on-line course and an in-company workshop. His free, Face Book training and support group, ‘Master of Communication’, designed to help everyone; ‘Harness the Powers of Communication’, is open by application.
This article was featured on the ISM website.