The Art of Selling: 5?new rules of engagement?for sales??

The digital era has transformed?the way that companies in both the B2B and B2C spheres?approach?the business of?selling.??

The days when prospects?turned to?sales reps?as their main source of?information?are long gone.?Now?it?s the prospects who are?firmly in control, taking?matters into their own hands when it comes to researching?potential?suppliers?? and relying on online sources such as?peer review sites,?blogs?and social media?networks.??

To be successful today, it?s vital that?sales professionals?demonstrate understanding of?their audience?s new?behaviours?and habits.???

Here are 5 ways that you can ensure?your?sales?techniques?meet?the?standards required for?today?s?digitally-minded audience.???

Softly-softly??

Pushy sales people are so last decade?(if not last century).?There?s?a growing distaste for the hard sell, which means that?traditional, outbound?methods such as cold calling are not only less effective but potentially alienating your target audience.?

The name of the game today is dealing with prospects on their terms, gently encouraging them along their?journey to purchase.?Inbound sales techniques that foster?engagement?rather than overt promotion are more aligned with customer expectations. What does this mean in practice? You need to be?viewed?as more of an adviser or trusted consultant than a sales rep, for instance by pointing your prospects to?information,?content?or third-party endorsements?that?are of?real?use in their decision-making.?Starting relationships on this basis should make it easier to convert leads into?long-term?customers.????

Data matters?

We are all?aware that?the?General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)?has recently come into force.?You now have a legal responsibility to justify?why?contacts are in your database. It may be that you can cite?one of?five?lawful bases?including??legitimate interests? or ?contract? as your grounds for processing data, but if not,?you will need to rely on the sixth lawful basis ??consent?-?which?must be freely and?explicitly?given.?Whichever?legal basis you are using, your decision-making?must be clearly?documented.???

In short, this means that my first point ? about?getting?smart?with?engagement?? rises further up the agenda.?You?can no longer?fall back?on pre-ticked opt-in boxes to keep?people?on your email lists?(which, let?s face it, was neither ethical nor effective anyway). The most GDPR-friendly?way of capturing data is to attract prospects?to you?so that?they willingly divulge their personal data in exchange for content that they perceive?as genuinely valuable.??

The personal touch?

It?s hard to?engage properly with customers and prospects if you don?t have adequate knowledge of their preferences and interests. The old adage ?know your customer? has never been more apt, and?today?it requires a detailed level of insight so that you can make your interactions?personalised, relevant and timely.??

Customer profiling is an essential strand of this. For instance, sales teams can work to create fictional profiles of the company?s most desirable (profitable) customers, based on age, gender, location, interests and even values. A second layer of insight should be added to this based on their typical journey to purchase ? mapping the ?route? they take, which communication channels they prefer, how long it takes and what triggers their final decision.?All this information?helps you to?deliver the?right interaction, on the right topic and at the right time?to optimise your chances of?conversion.????

The team mentality?

It?s?well-recognised that sales professionals tend to be somewhat territorial ? it?s an inherent part of the way we are wired, and frequently what drives us to be successful. But individual success means nothing if the whole team (and company) isn?t performing.?If someone is operating as a ?lone wolf? they?are?also?likely to be neglecting their admin and avoiding knowledge-sharing,?and this?sabotages wider sales and marketing initiatives that rely on?that?data?-?such as customer?profling?and insight.?In essence, if you don?t share data on what?s led to your success, then the company can?t learn from it and that is not in anybody?s interests.????

Playing your cards too close to your chest could also see customer and prospect data slipping through the net, which is bad news from a GDPR perspective. It?s imperative that sales data is logged centrally so that it can be indexed, tracked and continually analysed against compliance?critieria.???

Ramp up tech?

The?best way to?successfully implement the four points above?is to?adopt?a?latest-generation?technology?solution?that?can be used by all members of the team (and ideally by all customer-facing?company?functions) to standardise processes, deliver visibility into your sales cycle and customer journey, and enforce rigorous data?governance.???

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)?is?one such option.?The right solution should be intuitive and?user-friendly?so that the sales team?can rely?on it?throughout the day.?It will enable you to manage contact records, keeping all information in one place so that you can index, search, organise and analyse data with ease. Ultimately this provides a?more structured?and?data-driven?approach?to sales?? particularly when it comes to?pipeline management?? that delivers results quickly.???

These are just some tips to help you keep your sales talent in line with the?demands of modern?prospects?and?pave the way for stronger,?more personalised?and longer-term?customer relationships.???

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