Sales people are known for their ‘gift of the gab’; talking is part of their job description. But that’s changing – thanks to technology.
The internet means there is a vast amount of information available online, which has led to a power shift in the sales process.
If people want an answer to a question, then most people will go online to find it. The information is out there, and it is now easily attainable. The internet has empowered people and the sales person is no longer the fountain of knowledge they once were.
As a result, pushy sales tactics no longer work; the best way to achieve sales is through a policy of helping, not selling. This may sound counter intuitive, but by developing a structured process around helping sales targets you can achieve improved sales results. This process is referred to as inbound sales.
Bringing sales to you – by offering help
Helping someone has the ability to shift the power of the sales process back into the hands of the seller. The important thing is to help the right people and offer the right advice. To do this you have to use marketing intelligence.
This information is gathered by tracking a person’s visits to your website and seeing which pages they visited, what blog posts they read, which whitepapers they downloaded, and beginning to build a real understanding of their interests, goals and concerns.
Engaging in this process means that before you even pick up the phone you know a lot about the person you are about to ring. Use other digital platforms, such as LinkedIn, to research the person you are about to call in more detail and find out about their business. Before you pick up the phone there is one more thing you need to know the answer to; how are you going to help them?
Do not start the call offering a product or service that they can buy to help with x. This is not the inbound sales approach. Remember you are helping at this stage, not selling.
Instead of selling your product and/or service you should be saying something like, ‘I saw you downloaded this whitepaper, so here is a case study about a client of ours who faced a similar challenge’.
Content is key
Your company should have invested time in creating content and should have the necessary resources to provide relevant help whether this be a webinar, a whitepaper, an industry top tip, a guide or even a quick solution. If your company is not producing content relevant to the industry on a regular basis then this needs to change, fast.
One of the best ways to guarantee your company is producing regular content is to create a blog section on your website. Write blogs on a regular basis that focus on key industry topics and challenges. Providing the answers to issues people may be facing can lead to them visiting your website where they can find out what solutions you offer to the problem they have. This help could ultimately lead to an enquiry, followed by a sale.
No more cold calls
The ‘help’ approach to sales is not only refreshing for the consumer but approaching the sales call in this way means you are no longer a sales person cold calling someone entirely for your own benefit. Instead you are helping someone, and the call benefits the receiver. Have you ever received a call from someone looking to help you? Probably not, but think how would that make you feel? Would you be more inclined to listen to that person at a later date about their company’s solution? The answer is probably yes.
You can break the inbound sales process down into some simple steps:
- Inbound marketing – the first step is to employ an inbound marketing methodology, which is focused on providing helpful content, which draws people to your site.
- Marketing intelligence – it is important to make sure you are tracking visits to your website, so you know who is visiting your website and what they are looking at.
- Provide helpful advice – before you contact your sales prospect you should now be armed with the information that allows you to provide helpful information that is specific to that person needs. You should know exactly how you are going to help them before you pick up the phone.
- Open the door to further conversation – after phoning and helping your sales prospect, you have provided yourself with an opportunity to speak in the future. If someone is willing to talk to you, then they are more likely to buy from you in the future.
- Help, don’t sell – the most important thing is to remember you’re helping, not selling. Turning to a full-on sales pitch too soon can deter the potential customer.
This sales approach suits human psychology. We are programmed to help each other, and this means if you help someone then they feel obliged to help you back. This could be them deciding that the product or service your company provides is the solution to overcoming the challenges their business is facing. That first call to help them could lead to a sale further down the line. The most important thing is to be patient and build a relationship first by helping.
Tracking is incredibly important to gain marketing intelligence. There are a number of different automation tools that can assist will tracking, sales and contact management. Implementing one of these tools provides companies with the ability to track visits to their website and gather information about that person’s visit. This then allows you to follow an inbound sales process.
Time to change
The knowledge available to people now is vast. You can either continue to push generic information that your sales prospects can find themselves online or you can change your approach and help them. The future is about helping, not selling, so make sure you adapt your sales strategy to stay ahead of your business competition.
By Tim Butler, Innovation Visual