They say sales has changed. But has it? Have COVID and lockdowns, quarantines and work-from home changed everything?
It may be true that many of us are learning to do things in news ways. Remote ways. “Distanced” ways. Ways that do not make the people we are interacting with afraid, or concerned that we might be a health threat to them.
But has sales itself changed?
Perhaps the way we do sales has changed some — more telephoning, more emailing, far fewer “networking events.” Now we are often making our pitch in a Zoom meeting we host from our desk in the home office, convincing people to allow us to peer into THEIR living room (or letting them know the video will not be turned on). Yes, many of those things have changed.
The tactics are changing quickly, but they have been changing for some time. For instance, it has been widely reported in recent years that customers are increasingly coming to us already far down the sales funnel. And they are often well-studied on our products and services. Report after report has shown that most buyers now research both the product and even our particular company online long before they actually approach us to talk.
In addition, even those potential prospects we can reach through old-fashioned outbound sales methods are likely more aware of our competition, the prices that are out there, the reviews out there, and the social media chatter about us and our niche, even before we come across them in our campaigns.
Most people are more market-savvy and certainly more digital-savvy than ever before.
On top of that, after almost a year of being locked down, working remote, virtualized and distanced, people have turned increasingly to all sorts of online communications. This has led to unprecedented pre-purchase study, online shopping and buying, and better digital due-diligence awareness.
But has sales itself changed? Ask yourself, what IS sales? What does it take to “close” a sale? What makes a person “buy?”
So, those things were changing anyway, but in 2020 they went into overdrive.
But have the fundamentals of sales really changed?
Ask yourself, what IS sales? What does it take to “close” a sale? What makes a person “buy?” Why would someone exchange their money, time and treasure for some value you can give them for it? Is sales not the ability to meet them where they are, ascertain their need and desires, and present what you represent in a manner that they can understand and have confidence in?
And is “closing a sale” not all about making those personal connections (however you connect), listening to them explain their needs and wants, and guiding them to resources that will aid them in their search for solutions to those needs? And finally, is sales not about ultimately gaining enough of their trust that they allow you to help them make a decision and understand it as the best decision they can make at that time?
None of those things have changed.
Does that automatically mean that those who excelled at the above will excel in the present new era of communications?
Not necessarily. They may need to shift gears (quicker than before). They probably need to learn new communication tools faster or at least improve their knowledge immediately. They may need to learn new virtual meeting protocols and “virtual manners.” All of this knowledge is out there to be found and can be picked up with some effort.
But the time-worn need for solid personality and character traits, listening ability, energy to prospect, and innovative presentation skills has not changed. These are as necessary as ever. If anything, people can now spot a salesperson with great character and skills even quicker because many gimmicks and marketing tricks don’t work so well any more. Things are more person-to-person now, even if through remote connections.
In some ways, the “new normal” offers salespeople a chance to recalibrate and hone their basic skills and communication habits. Those who can do that will succeed and their company will also prosper.
How do you hire sales people who can do that? As always, you hire for character first, sales skills and personality next and also factor in intelligence. Many international CEOs have stated that intelligent innovation is a top quality now in hiring salespeople for the new era.
It will take all these things to succeed in sales going forward.
Here at SalesManage Solutions, we help many clients find, hire and coach the best people. We have specialized in that for over thirty years. We would love to talk with you.