Five Ways Sales Has Changed In Recent Years (And How To Adapt) by Forbes – Entrepreneurs

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Sales has changed a lot in recent years, thanks to new technological developments and a general shift in attitudes regarding how customers make decisions. Here’s how to adapt.Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Hate it or love it, sales is essential for growing your business. This is especially true for budding entrepreneurs. Without sales savvy, you’ll struggle to gain the clients or investors you need to survive in today’s competitive marketplace.

The benefits of perfecting your sales process cannot be denied, but becoming a true sales master can be a serious challenge. After all, sales has changed quite a bit in recent years, thanks to new technological developments and a general shift in attitudes regarding how customers make purchasing decisions.

Don’t fall behind by using outdated selling tactics—here’s what you need to know in order to better sell to customers in the modern age.

1. Selling As Helping

During a recent interview I conducted with Kendrick Shope, CEO and creator of Authentic Selling, she noted how selling often struggles with negative stereotypes. “Selling is the exchange of money for a product or service. So think about that. There’s nothing icky, sleazy, slimy, gross, pushy-used-car-salesman about that. It’s just a business transaction. So it’s our preconceived notions about selling that gives it that negative feeling.”

To counteract this perception, modern selling has had to change. For Shope, this idea is best explained through what she calls “authentic selling,” a process that requires getting to the core of what selling really is—providing solutions to people’s problems.

“At its core, selling is helping. The people who want to buy your product or service are out there waiting on you, and that’s what authentic selling focuses on. Your customers exist, but it’s your job to go out there and tell them how your product or service can help them,” Shope explains.

2. Sell To Yourself First

Sales has long been stereotyped with the idea that salespeople often pitch products they don’t really believe in, themselves.

But this approach no longer works for entrepreneurs in today’s market.

As a business owner or sales leader, you need to have a firm conviction that your product or service solves a meaningful problem for your customers. This gives you the passion and insight necessary to successfully sell to others. You need to fully understand how your product or service makes a difference so you can have confidence when you promise results.

Just how important is this? Studies have found that while financial motivations can impact our sales results, we are generally most persuasive when we believe in the product or service we’re selling.

3. New Touch Points

The average sale requires seven to 10 touches with the brand before a potential buyer converts into a customer. The thing is, customers aren’t just giving you their money—they’re also giving you time. Because of this, modern sales professionals need to respect their prospective customers’ time in order to create positive touch point interactions.

Tech advances have allowed for new touch points that better value the customer’s time. For more insight on this, I spoke with Agnes Jozwiak, marketing director at ClickMeeting.

“Tech has made it easier than ever for touch points to show respect for a prospect’s time,” she explains. “For example, a webinar could allow individuals to watch your presentation from their home, rather than requiring them to visit your office. When you use digital touch points that make these interactions more convenient, you’ll make a better overall impression.”

4. The Rise Of Content Marketing

Content marketing is perhaps one of the best examples of a digital touch point that honors your prospect’s time while still providing value to the sales process.

Today’s consumers want to research a product before they buy, and with quality content marketing materials, you can provide informative, helpful information that eases the purchasing decision. The more high-value content you provide, the more trustworthy your brand will appear, and the more likely you are to make the sale.

Content marketing isn’t focused on trying to make a direct sale. Instead, it seeks to position the brand as a helpful resource during the problem-solving process. Case studies, infographics and blog posts can all go a long way in strengthening your position with your prospects.

5. The Need For Individualization

A one-size-fits-all sales approach isn’t going to work in today’s interconnected world. Email funnels and other sales followups often fall short because they treat all customers as a single, generalized group. This isn’t what your sales prospects want.

As Alexandra Jaritz writes, “We live in an era of unprecedented personalization. People want as much choice and control as possible in all aspects of their lives. In a sales or service environment, different customers want to engage in different ways, to different degrees, at different times. This is where it’s critical to master the intersection of service and technology, providing customers with multiple paths to match their needs and preferences.”

There are many different messaging techniques you can use. Whether you opt for something conversational and story-driven, short and direct, or based on statistics and testimonials, it’s essential that you understand that each type of messaging will appeal to a different group. However, they can also appeal to the same person at different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Using market research collected through Google and social media interactions will prove key to understanding the unique demographics of your target customers. The better you understand your customers, the easier it’ll be to craft individualized messages.

Selling doesn’t need to be an insurmountable challenge. Rather, it’s a process that requires frequent experimentation and fine-tuning.

You’ll face rejection no matter what. But as you stay ahead of the curve by understanding and adapting to changes in how people make buying decisions, you’ll be better positioned to get your message across to both customers and investors alike.

March 13, 2019 at 01:47PM
https://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanrobinson/2019/03/13/how-sales-has-changed/
Forbes – Entrepreneurs
http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/
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