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Selling – The New Normal By Drew Stevens

Undoubtedly the end of the recession and the beginning of the New Year create times of change. Many fear change because of the fear of the unknown and an alteration from their comfort zone. Change needs to be embraced.

Selling will be one of those areas of change and deservedly so. Selling has been slow to alter for several reasons:

Personnel – the good times prior to the recession focused less on people and more on process.
Leadership – there are so many theories on selling, many do not know whom to follow or trust.
Training – many believe that training is the best method to alter selling patterns but have found little return on investment.
Customers – many selling professionals and managers believe that customers buying patterns have not changed.

With over 28 years in my field I find there are tremendous alterations in buying patterns, customer behaviors and selling processes. When I began selling we attempted sales with visual words or on site demonstrations. Today some customer conversations are conducted over the Internet and demonstrations are arranged with apps and cloud computing.

Customers do not want or need to be sold. In fact they know more about your business, your industry and your company then ever before. If they want it they will connect with you. Customers are smarter and more connected than ever. That said, the key differentiator is the service, support and systems you provided to engage clients.

Here are some things to consider:

Cold Calling – Dump it. It is very discouraging to see how many people believe this rote methodology still works. In the age of caller ID, the number of gatekeepers and simply busyness- people are too busy. Cold calling is a disruption. It wastes time. Name one millionaire representative that did so cold calling?

Customer Response – I wish I had a dollar for every selling professional that kept promises to contact me on specific dates and times. I have a return call policy of 90 minutes, yet I am amazed when it takes days or weeks for sales representatives to return my call. Return calls when promised.

Customer Service – There is research that illustrates that over fifty percent of customer interaction is service related. Treat your customers correctly by becoming engaged. I am reminded of Aaron who was attempting to sell copiers and got the prospect’s name incorrect four times in the same conversation. Be in the moment.

Selling versus building relationships – Social networking groups are besieged with conversation about “selling to the c suite”. Not only is it interesting to discover so many self proclaimed experts but more ironic to view the opinions on how to sell to senior executives. Herein is the best advice. Senior Executives do not want to be sold anything. They desire healthy conversations that build relationships with trusted peers. Senior officers know what they need and when they need it. Stop listening to unhealthy advice.

C2C – With the high levels of connectivity customers are more interested today in hearing from other customers. People buy from those they know and trust. Individuals desire customer-centered relationships. Build your community with case studies, testimonials and audio/video snippets that illustrates results from other customers.

Customer Communication – Technology is not the answer to everything. You must be constantly top of mind so avoid activities that diminish relationships. Rather pick up a telephone or send a simple handwritten gratuity card. Illustrate your value not the need to make commission.

Customer Discretion – Customers are no longer in a hurry. Credit concerns, economic volatility and shareholder return are more important than ever. In addition, the use of the Internet enables customers the necessary time to conduct the proper research before making decisions.

A recent client researched John’s firm for over six months. They conducted research and sought council from former clients then signed a six-figure order. If you’re patient they will come.
Drew Stevens works with senior officers (CEO’s, Presidents) and Sales Directors who struggle with their sales teams to meet organizational goals and acquire new clients. Drew helps them to create relationships with economic buyers so that sales people close sales quickly and gain more revenue. To discover how Dr. Drew can assist your organization by visiting his website at StevensConsultingGroup.com

What buying patterns and “new norms” do you see in the selling process? Others would like to know. Place your comments in the space below.

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