The world of selling has changed dramatically. Sales reps are accustomed to and want to be able to drive the action on their own, but that is not possible in today’s 2.0 world. Last month, Cyber Monday sales reached over $6 billion. The Internet has changed the way buyers, even B2B buyers, shop. B2B organizations can learn a lot from how some B2C companies have harnessed today’s tools to build relationships with potential buyers and drive a steady volume of traffic to their websites. I have been in B2B sales for nearly 30 years and the way we started, the way we were measured was: first – on sales success, second – on the number of dials, and third – on face-to-face appointments.
Today, 85 percent of outbound sales calls go to voice mail, never to be returned. 80 percent of buyers are finding the seller on their own, which is completely counterintuitive to the sales professional’s persona. As a result of failing to adapt to this shift in buyer behavior, half of sales reps are not meeting their sales quotas.
How can a B2B sales leader adapt his game to meet the challenges of the new world of sales? Take a page from the integrated marketing playbooks of all the B2C merchants who have leveraged it so successfully.
First, FIND your audience. To do this, you must build a database of ideal prospects so that you can reach out to them, but you also need to make yourself findable to them through search engine optimization and other initiatives that ensure your website is loaded with the right content to attract buyers.
Second, CONNECT with your audience. Making a connection was easy when all that it required was a warm handshake from a good sales rep. Today, to connect you have to have a strong array of different digital content to tell your story. You have to remember that the connection requires this level of human contact when telling your story. If you can’t get face-to-face as early as you once could, digital messaging is powerful to build that connection. Buyers are consuming information digitally and filing it away as they make their preliminary and final buying decisions. Integrated marketing connects your outbound delivery strategy with your audience of suspects and ensures that you have the right process in place to deliver the right piece of content to the right buyer persona.
Third, ENGAGE all your prospects. Many of them are not ready to buy just because you are ready to sell. You need an integrated marketing plan to stay continuously in touch with them in different manners and different styles. Keep touching them until they are ready. Until a trigger event happens that indicates they have decided to enter the market, it is fine to just keep touching them.
Once a trigger event indicates that they are ready to move on to the next step, make sure you have practices in place to keep sales follow-up in alignment with the marketing message.
FIND, CONNECT and ENGAGE is the new normal. Many, many companies are reaping great success by adjusting their models this way. Companies that are not are at a competitive disadvantage. Unfortunately, the old ways are not coming back. It’s important to change your sales methodology if you want to thrive in the new world.