In part 1, I discussed the challenge sales professionals face when it comes to relinquishing control during a sales cycle. The fact of the matter is, customers do a significant amount of research before engaging a sales person; and we need to be adequately prepared.
What I left out for part 2 was how we can start “getting in front” of our customers.
One avenue the sales professional needs to address is their online presence (or lack thereof). If a customer receives a stimulus and their first reaction is to immediately go online, it would stand to reason that a sales person should “hang out” there.
Search Engine Optimization is an entire industry built on the need to “be Google-able” and to show up when your target customer is looking for a solution that you can offer. From a company’s stand point, addressing SEO is critical, but we cannot expect a sales professional to be buying ad-words from search engines. Instead, a sales person needs to identify them self as unique individuals.
Social selling is generating significant buzz within the sales community and there are varying levels of connected-ness. In my estimation, you don’t have to be a computer genius to have some basic online interaction within your network. Start by building a presence in areas or circles that make sense to your customers and your business. Use social tools to listen for opportunities and make connections. More importantly however, we need to offer thoughts and insights but DO NOT SELL! Be a human being who has a desire to interact with other human beings. Be genuine and sell yourself as a resourceful and connected person.
Being social can certainly help a professional “get in front” of some of their customers, but you are not going to hit your targets strictly through social selling. In my opinion, social selling needs to be viewed as one component of a strong proactive selling system.
The best way to “get in front” of your customers is to not wait until they pick up the phone.
Studies show that once a customer experiences a stimulus they turn to the web for a potential solution. I accept that as an inevitability. But what if I could meet and discuss business objectives with a customer before they encounter the stimulus?
The most successful sales professionals never stop prospecting. They never stop looking for new opportunities. They relentlessly meet with businesses in hopes that they can engage a buyer in achieving a new result with their solution.
There are an infinite number of services, lists, web tools and vertical market materials at a sales person’s disposal to develop a list of qualified prospects. A sales professional’s job is to thoughtfully create those list; build a strong arsenal of case studies, white papers, recommendations (you get my point); and then strategically attack!
It’s simple, but too many sales people wait for the phone to ring.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there!