There is a certain science behind being an effective salesperson and the approach to sales is ever changing. Faced with this, it is important for sales professionals to keep honing their skills and techniques in order to stay ahead of the game and remain relevant in today’s market.
Currently organisations use a number of different techniques to try and win new business. Some rely on marketing teams, others rely on sales teams. In reality however, given the way that information flows through organisations nowadays, it needs to be a combination of the two. This means that salespeople need to be good at leveraging their marketing assets and sharing those assets with relevant prospects.
A common mistake sales directors make is relying on their salespeople to do all the work. And in order to succeed, salespeople are relying solely on their phone manner and ability to charm a prospect. But without much information on who they’re talking to will often fall back on talking about their own business; “We do this, we do that.” The problem is that the prospect wants to hear something that is applicable to their business needs.
In today’s business environment we’re often led to believe that it’s a buyers world; they know what they want and they know where to get information. With the digital age bringing more data than ever before directly to our fingertips though, salespeople have access to just as much information as the buyers. A knowledgeable salesperson who utilises the information available in the public domain can successfully remain relevant, as well as cater to the needs of every prospect.
Below we’ve outlined four areas where better use of available information can help you remain relevant and improve your firm’s prospecting.
Conducting comprehensive account research – Know the account you are selling into. Most companies share a great deal of information via marketing efforts. Follow prospect companies’ social media channels and set up Google Alerts. Use the firm’s websites in your research and if a company is publicly listed then there will also be financial information available. Being account relevant is absolutely key to your ability to sell and the way to achieve this is to know the company inside out.
Building robust industry knowledge – It is just as paramount for you to remain relevant in terms of industry. Take time to understand the industry in which your prospect operates. Whether it is manufacturing, legal or IT services you need to be able to demonstrate that you understand the industry. If you can converse about current industry trends you become more credible and more relevant to the client. Once again there are news services, websites and portals set up and dedicated to serving most industries with news and information.
Understanding the role being sold to – If you are to engage with someone on a professional level and convince them that your solution is best then you need to know about their role and the challenges it poses. Again there is a wealth of information available if you know where to look; for example if you are selling into a CIO or HRD there are portals set up specifically to service those communities with news and information. LinkedIn has groups doing the same thing for the majority of job types. By following these services a salesperson will become a lot more knowledgeable about trends and challenges faced by the individual they are selling into.
Developing strong relationships – Understand what makes your prospects tick and what they are about. Some 95 per cent of IT professionals are on LinkedIn and are freely sharing a wealth of information about themselves. If you take the time to research a person you may find that they have written a blog recently which you can reference to resonate with them. Even if they are not blogging themselves they are likely sharing information from others or following certain groups. It all paints a picture of the person you are selling to and is information you can use to develop an affinity with them.
At the end of the day, every potential client is looking for two things; relevance and credibility. By demonstrating to a client that you ca remain relevant in these four areas you are also showing that you are credible – that’s a powerful thing!
Stay tuned for the next part of our “Science of Sales” series!
Sam Thomason is operating director of Michael Page Sales.
Share this story