Technology has been a big topic lately, but all the top-end tech in the world means nothing if you don’t have customers. This week, I’m happy to welcome The Sales Energizer, Dan Jourdan. We talk about sales – new trends that are changing the world of sales, and core elements that won’t ever change. Here’s the breakdown.
The Environment Changes Quickly, and You Need to Keep Up
Change is a way of life these days, and sales is no different. As the reliance on technology and big data increases, salespeople need to keep up to stand out. Here are some things to keep your eye on.
You need to know your tech. No surprise here. The core of sales is still about knowing and meeting customer needs. There is increasingly impressive technology available to help you look more deeply and specifically into customer needs, and to help you keep track of all of that information. If anything, salespeople today are expected to know and manage more info than ever before. Finding the right system can keep you from letting customers slip through the cracks.
Deliver your message in the right way. Your message may stay the same, but the best way to deliver it is changing rapidly. In the early days of sales, the message was delivered primarily by mouth as sales people walked door to door. Now, we are flooded with an overabundance of ways to deliver the message. Marshall McLuhan famously wrote, “The medium is the message.” The way you choose to deliver your message becomes a part of the way people receive that message, so taking care to choose the most effective way is key.
Face time is still important, but so is supporting that with accessible information and messaging on the internet that support the same story about the product you are telling in your face to face meetings.
Some delivery trends are less reliable than they used to be, but knowing your market means knowing where that delivery system might still fit. Direct mail is, overall, less reliable as a marketing method than it used to be, but in some cases, still works. Jourdan uses the example of a trash company in his neighborhood that powerfully utilized story telling in their mailer. By creating something unique that was of interest to their customer (the story of one of their employees) and targeting a specific geographic area, they were able to greatly increase their market share in the neighborhood.
You need to be good at everything. In today’s world, you need to be hitting on all fronts. When that box of cookies you dropped off makes it to the person with buying power, you can bet they’ll be pulling up your website while they munch on their cookies. Then, they may check your reviews on Google. Make sure your message is consistent across your mediums, or you’ll lose the sale.
Explains Jourdan, “Everybody needs to be a little machine. You need to be blogging, you need to have your social media presence; that’s your advertising, you need to create some sort of product to get people interested enough to get your newsletter so that they like you, then you’re building your target market there. You’re building your list, then you need to create a message.”
But, the More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
Top producers find a way, not an excuse. Says Jourdan, “A top producer will realize that the only difference between a reason and an excuse is the spelling.” Top producers take full responsibility for what goes on in their world. If they are late, they own it. Explains Jourdan, “It wasn’t the traffic, it wasn’t a hurricane, it wasn’t a zombie apocalypse. It was nothing like that. It was that I didn’t leave early enough.”
Sales is about having customers. Whatever your vision for your company, it’s not going anywhere if nobody is on the receiving end. In sales, keeping the end in mind is key – and a successful sale ends with a new customer (or an even happier old customer). Jourdan says, “You can have the dream, you can have the vision and you can have all that, if you don’t have the customer it’s all a game. And, so we just try to focus people on that, and that has always been the same, to keep people along those lines.”
Great salespeople run their own show. Says Jourdan, “Each individual salesperson needs to be their own machine, their own advertising, their own motivating, their own presenting, their own branding and their own prospecting machine, self-contained. If you’ve got a bunch of those people altogether, you can create a business and an enterprise that will last through the ages.”
Door to door still works. It’s tempting these days to get all caught up in tech. Great technology can definitely support the sales process, but it’s no substitute for face time. Dan teaches a method he calls “the card and the cookie close”. Whenever your salespeople are out in the field visiting a customer, have them take a few minutes to stop at four surrounding businesses and ask for the person they’d need to speak to about your product or service. They usually won’t get them, but have them drop off a card, and get one of theirs. Then they do their research, and if it’s someone worth pursuing, follow up every few weeks by dropping your card off clipped to a pack of cookies. When the time comes that they need your service, you’ll be the person they come to, just because of the face time you put in.
Homework matters. The key to the success of the “the card and the cookie close”, along with any other successful method of selling, is doing your homework. When you have that card or that contact, take the time not only to make sure that customer is qualified, but get to know their company and their specific needs. Any follow up will be more effective if you know their world.
Top producers are students of sales. They are always learning, and they love to go out and test new methods of closing sales. They talk to other salespeople, read books, and get out on the field whenever they can. Says Jourdan, “Their desire is to become a master, so they’re always working.”
Great salespeople take action. Jourdan explains, “They don’t wait for 100%. If they’re 80% sure, sometimes even if they’re 50% sure, they’re going to go after it. They’re going to make some mistakes, they’re going to fall on their face, they’re going to have to apologize, and they’re going to do all that stuff because they’re taking action ahead.” Top salespeople embrace failure and seek our rejection, treating them as learning experiences.
Jourdan emphasizes the importance of supporting your sales people. Managing a team of people in sales is different than other areas of business. Salespeople may be less collaborative, and more competitive. Being able to create a team environment in this atmosphere can be a challenge. The trick, says Jourdan, is to make sure everybody wins. “When you win a lot, generally there’s a lot more smiles when there’s a lot more wins. And so let’s get it together and when you have the sales meetings and people are all excited and helping each other win because the more they win, the more everybody does.”
Successful sales, like so many things in business, comes down to finding creative new ways to reach and serve the customer. Keep your eye on the final goal, get your people out in the field, and the sales will follow.