Stop a random individual in the street and ask them what they think of salespeople. I doubt you would receive a glowing response full of gushing superlatives.
The fact is we don’t like salespeople. We feel they have an agenda (to make a sale) which won’t necessarily be aligned with ours. We often have a sense of losing some control of the buying process, even though in reality this is not the case. Many individuals find it hard to say ‘no’, and that in itself can make the situation uncomfortable.
Years ago people had no choice. We lived in a world where information was scarce and, therefore, engaging a salesperson, or a few sales reps, was the easiest and most effective way of finding out what was available in any particular sector. The digital age has meant this is no longer the case.
In fact, all the data suggests, that today, people do as much research as possible before they interact with any sales representatives. Almost 70% of the buying journey is complete before your organisation receives an enquiry.
This being the case, it is no surprise that when a prospect does invite a company representative into their world, they don’t want a salesperson. It is very likely that the generic information they require has already been acquired and digested by the buyer. Rather, at the stage a prospect is likely to be in the buying cycle, they want an expert, an advisor, an individual who really understands the application of the product or service and can provide proper insight and understanding.
Let’s assume this is the case (it often isn’t) and the salesperson has these qualities. It then behooves them to demonstrate this credibility in the meeting. However, in today’s digital world, where many prospects will check an individual out online before they arrive at their office, salespeople can enhance their credibility before they walk through the door.
So what should a salesperson be doing to demonstrate their credibility and industry expertise? Below are three suggestions:
1. Connect with everyone online - For most people, LinkedIn will probably be the best platform for this. Salespeople, by definition, meet a lot of individuals in their industry. By connecting with them, after seeing them, salespeople are demonstrating that they are well networked. In this way, they are more likely to be perceived as an industry insider than a mere seller of goods or services.
2. Ask for testimonials - Receiving an email saying what a good job you did for someone is useless. Gone are the days where sales reps walk around with letters written by satisfied customers. Rather, on doing a good job for a customer, salespeople should be asking for testimonials on public platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Of course, some customers will prefer not to do this. However, it doesn’t take long to build up quite a number of great testimonials as some customers will willingly agree. Social proof is the biggest influencer on human behaviour. Salespeople need to make sure it is being utilised effectively.
3. Blog - By having a blog, a salesperson starts to demonstrate that they have industry knowledge. The power of saying to a prospect in a meeting, ‘I wrote a blog about that challenge I’ll send you a link’ is demonstrable. Ideas should come from all the questions a salesperson is asked every day by prospects and customers. From where does the content come? Obviously, it would be great if a salesperson can write some themselves, however, there may be some resource in the company to help produce some content. Salespeople can also ask others in their networks for contributions. As the blog starts to attract readers, this adds even more to an individual’s credibility. Finally, content can be curated. This is an effective way of building up content without being too time consuming.
Today’s digital environment has made some aspects of selling more of a challenge. It is, therefore, vital that salespeople embrace the digital tools that can also make the job a little easier. The salespeople who fail to do so, will find themselves left behind by those who do leverage these fantastic opportunities.