Why do teams sell the way they do? Modern sales techniques, especially those that your company uses, have been crafted and refined over centuries through trial and error. Most modern sales teams, though, use one of two methods: methods based around gaining consumer trust, and another based around data and research to make sales techniques more effective.
One aspect of sales that has remained true over centuries: human touch is crucial to a sales team’s success. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it over and over again -- people don’t buy from businesses, they buy from people.
Technology and automation has had a far-reaching impact on just about every industry and every business’s processes -- but especially when it comes to sales. New sales technologies and automation tools have greatly improved sales teams’ efficiency and are now integral to our sales processes, however, these technologies have also caused many teams to lose the human touch with their customers.
What are the key aspects of a modern sales process? And how do these affect our ability to relate to our customers as humans? Here’s some advice for refining your sales process by going back to basics -- without losing the advantages of the modern sales process.
1. Sales tools and automations.
Most modern sales teams work with tools to help them get through parts of the sales process faster -- and convert leads to sales. These tools are intended to help modern sales teams work smart, faster, and more efficiently. As a result, most B2B customers are more than halfway through the buying process before they even meet or talk with a company representative, an Accenture report found.
Over the past few years, as we’ve adopted these new technologies, many sales teams have evolved to heavily rely on sales tools to do the job for us… and we’re no longer using our “people skills” to communicate with customers and sell our product. As a result, we’re missing out on developing the skills essential to a truly successful salesperson: emotional intelligence, creative thinking, and interpersonal skills.
2. Sales teams and customers alike have adopted a digital-first approach.
The pandemic has increasingly led people to go online to buy products and services. And as a result, sales teams have been further propelled into a digital-first mindset. Teams have been forced to swap their in-person interactions for virtual meetings. Further, their customers are more resourceful and tech savvy than ever, meaning the majority will conduct extensive research online prior to purchasing - often voluntarily opting out of talking to a salesperson until much later in the buying process.
According to a McKinsey study, “more than three quarters of buyers and sellers say they now prefer digital self-serve and remote human engagement over face-to-face interactions,” and research from Gartner shows that today’s B2B buyers spend only 17% of their time talking directly to sales. That begs the question: do buyers even need a sales representative? Are sales tools and automations actually the key to higher churn rates and growing sales?
Although buyers are going through a large part of the buying process without guidance from a sales person they may reach out to a sales rep at some point -- but their expectations of what the sales rep should be providing them are vastly different in comparison to even five years ago. Buyers expect sales to anticipate and know their exact needs and their competition at the first point of contact, meaning your sales reps need to be following the client’s non-human, digital interactions up until this point.
Customers are also looking to feel special, rather than being treated like “just another number”. At this point on the sales journey, your sales tools and automations have likely qualified the lead for you -- but what sales tools can’t do is form connections, provide value, be empathetic, or listen actively.
It’s time for sales teams to get back to basics. While research shows that most people would prefer not to speak with a company representative, it’s important to note that salespeople start having the right conversations.
1. First, be an SME of your own company
It’s critical to do your homework and be 100% current of your own product, data or service. Sounds basic but it's more than selling from your pricing and rate card. What are some use cases that you can use to demonstrate a solution that is close to addressing a similar issue a prospect might be facing.
In this survival of the fittest sales environment, where sales teams are reinventing themselves to thrive, it’s more important than ever to adapt and evolve to come out on top.
2. Second, be an SME of your customer and prospects
One way to do that? Use the data from your programs to learn more about your customers. A deep understanding of your client base and potential client base makes for a more educated sales team. It allows you to understand their needs, why they turn to you, and what you competitors do (and do not) do well. How do your customers buy? Where do they spend time online? All this information, carefully mined from your sources, can help build a more complete understanding of your customers - and where your sales team can find them.
3. Develop your sales team’s interpersonal skills.
If you want to take your sales teams to the next level, there’s one way to do it: add back in the human touch. Why is it important to add back that human element?
People want to buy from other people, not automations. Building a relationship with your clients and potential clients can change the game for your team. If you hit your clients with the sales pitch right away, your team won’t see much success. It comes off far too “salesy,” and buyers grow weary of that type of approach.
Instead, focus on relationships. People want to purchase products and services from people they know, like, and trust. Buyers want that emotional connection. Conversations are key to just about every transaction.
Having a human-first connection makes potential clients more likely to return to your business, and it can be a great foundation for brand-based connections. You want clients to see you as a person, and not a number or a random company.
At Fador Global, we work with small- to medium-sized companies to help them revamp their sales organizations and provide the “rocket fuel” to help get them moving past their competition. Our team touts a firm grasp on the issues companies and managers face when wrestling with growth and expansion strategies.
The FGCG mission remains the same, whether you’re the leader or founder of a start-up, mid-sized company, or large global firm. We offer actionable guidance for monetizing data, implementing new product launches, and capitalizing on existing ones.