Prospecting: The Old and The New
Consider the books you have read while learning your new position as Account Executive, Account Manager, or Sales Development Representative, and so on. We learned from the minds of Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, Tony Robbins, Brian Tracy, and Jeffrey Gitomer.
They were compelling, they were informative, and have great strategies.
The one challenge with those individuals, they conducted business in the 80s and 90s, when technology wasn’t in full bloom, when platforms weren’t available, and social wasn’t in existence.
PITCH and PERSUADE
These fine folks all focused on ways to pitch and persuade. Let’s use this example quickly to illustrate what I mean by this. Consider the used car salesman. You walk onto the lot looking for a vehicle, the immediate rush comes from a used car salesman. They tell you how great the vehicle is, the fact that it was owned by an old lady who never drove it, serviced it frequently and on schedule and is an absolute steal.
They tell you how great of a person you are for making such a fine decision and continue to persuade. Meanwhile, as a consumer we have no idea how to fact-check any of the information relayed to you. You have no reviews, other than those in the town or at the local watering hole. You can’t possibly look through hundreds of vehicles to check pricing based on mileage, vehicle usage, damage, previous accidents, and so on. You simply have to trust the used car salesman and use your best judgement.
ENGAGE and EDUCATE
Today, we have so many tools at our disposal as consumers we can check everything told to us, in real-time. We can look at other vehicles on the lot prior to even stepping foot onto the lot. We can cross-reference pricing based on year, mileage, usage, damage, previous accidents, recalls, and so on within a 10 minute window. We don’t need to simply trust the used car salesman — we can educate ourselves prior to walking onto the lot, fully loaded with facts, information, resources, and web sources to evidence our stance.
As entrepreneurs and sales people, we need to focus on how to leverage those platforms to get more information in front of our prospective customers through engagement. Engage first, then aim to educate them on the product, service or solution. Engage on social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook, web-based platforms, and our very own resources, capture their information so you can send them information to nudge them down the processes of our sales cycle.
SALES CYCLE vs BUYING CYCLE
Now, just to be very clear, here. The Sales Cycle is referring to our process as an entrepreneur or sales department. This is what we have designed, developed and deployed so we can ensure we have the most qualified, interested and ready-to-buy prospects in our sales funnel as possible.
On the other hand, the Buying Cycle is the process the buyer goes through prior to making a buying decision. This is often a neglected aspect of sales. When we catch an interested prospect in our web (no pun intended), we tend to begin pitching to close the deal. This is by in large, the worst way to conduct a sales transaction. We should be asking them questions to best gauge where they are in their Buying Cycle. Are they at the beginning and, “…just looking…”, or are they near the end and, “…need to think about it…”? — better yet, are they at the end, and “…need to look at other options…” These are all buying signals, but at which end of the Buying Cycle spectrum? Only questions will determine which position on the spectrum they stand.
It has been reported by multiple sales research organizations (Circle Research, Sellinger Group, RAIN Group, and Miller Heiman Group) that today’s consumer or “Buyer 2.0” is a different type of buyer. They are well-informed, self-educated, and highly-researched prior to contacting you, the sales person. They are so well-researched, they walk in with a 78% buying confidence rating — which essentially means, they have completed 78% of their buying cycle through research and are leaning on you, the subject matter expert, professional, and consultant, to help walk them the final 22%. As Victor Antonio states, “the consumer is looking to you for Insight, which is information beyond the obvious.” That “obvious” is in the form of web data, forums, information commonly known, shared, and consumed. However, as industry professionals, we know that information is either incorrect or invalid to some extent. It is our job to fill the knowledge gap and use that to educate, engage, build trust and establish credibility in the sales process.
Once those four (4) elements are addressed and tied down, now we can move onto building value around a product, service or solution. Once value is built and exceeds the price point — we can work to close the deal.
I’m not knocking the old school sales gurus, I am simply stating they are advocating for strategies and tactics which are outdated and tools that are rarely used. The average person in the U.S. spends 43 hours of their week on their mobile device looking through social platforms, email, blogs, YouTube, forums, and groups.
As you go out and prospect, the best piece of advice I can leave you with is this — go to where your audience hangs out. Go there, engage and educate — leave the pitching and persuading to the MLM folks and Cryptocurrency folks (shots fired…lol).
Lastly, deploy a potent attack in the form of multi-medium outreach; calls, voicemails, emails, text messages, Google Maps, sales letters, direct mail, social media, webinars, blogs, ebooks, channel partners and referrals. Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.
Curtis DeCora specializes in Business Development and Tribal Economic Development roles. Equipped with 10 years of experience in corporate sales, door-to-door sales, and outsourced sales - helping small businesses increase their sales and increase productivity.