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Tennessean Column- Sunday, July 26

Posted on: July 30

Author: Tom Black
Tennessean Column- Sunday, July 26

The Future of Selling

People keep asking me about the future of sales and selling.  With an ever expanding base of knowledge through the internet prospects know more.  They are better informed and have access to more information than ever. 

You can find out the price of any article you want with a few clicks.  As more and more products become commoditized, where does that leave the salesperson and what is his or her future?

It may surprise you but all the research states that the salesperson will become more important not less.  The ten year projection for large companies is that they will be hiring more salespeople not less.  In face over 20% more.  So why don’t these two facts connect?  There is more information available for the prospect and yet a need for more salespeople.

The research says that when a salesperson’s products are basically the same as their competitors the key differentiator becomes the salesperson themselves.  Current studies of prospects indicate that 57% of the buying decision occurs prior to a prospect talking to a salesperson.  The impact of this is an ever increasing importance about how the salesperson interacts with the prospect.  Yes, salespeople will become more important not less important.

How does a salesperson interact better and build a better relationship with the prospect?  Here are some ideas:

  • About the relationship- We all like doing business with someone we feel a connection to and like.  How do you, as a salesperson, become that kind of person?  One way is to be a good listener.  Take notes while you are listening.  Taking notes gives importance to what the prospect is saying.  Nod your head.  Studies say that people speak 66% more when the listener nods their head.  The more the prospect talks the better your relationship.  Rephrase and repeat back what the prospect says.  This adds value to their thoughts and opinions.  We all want to be around people that listen to us and think what we say is important.
  • Make your prospect your friend.  You share good news with your friends.  You stay in contact with your friends.  You do little things for your friends.  You take an interest in the things they are interested in.  You remember things your friends tell you.  It always surprises me when salespeople don’t like their prospects.  Find the good and value in your prospects and they will find the good and value in you.  It’s called psychological reciprocity and it works!

Think about your best-selling relationship.  I’ll bet that you know a lot about that person and that you have spent an above average amount of time with them.  I’ll bet the exact opposite is true for your worst relationship.  You can fix a lot of that with focus and practice.

Most salespeople focus on the sale’s process, the questions we need to ask and the facts we need to present.  The process is important but the process will work better the better your relationships.  In addition, your prospect will listen better and be more persuaded by someone with whom they have a trusting relationship.  Instead of worrying so much about what you are going to say next, focus completely on the person in front of you.  Try thinking of them as the most “Interesting man in the world”.

  • Finally, make sure everything you say and do sends the right signals.  Make sure you are viewed by the prospect as someone with whom they would want to do business.  Speak professionally, work on your grammar and vocabulary, smile often and look your prospect in the eye.  Its old school but it works.

Remember 57% of the decision has already been made before you arrived.  Now it’s your turn to make the difference.

People may doubt what you say but they will believe what you do.

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