By Chuck Sink
Sales is tougher than it used to be, and for some, much tougher. Salespeople who keep selling the 20th century way are running into walls. These walls have been erected at many of the same prospect companies that used to have doors swing wide open. Quite literally, doors to lobbies with friendly receptionists were open to salespeople to come in and inquire about how they could help the company with their products & services. Telephones rang off the hook. Half the calls were from customers & vendors and the other half from salespeople. Selling was a lot of fun back then!
Formerly and still potentially excellent salespeople will tell you how they used to kill it in the 1990s (20th century) and maybe up to the post 9/11 boomlet. Something began to change around 2003 and then very rapidly in the years following. That change is now complete.
The number one sales problem that many CEOs will tell you is they can’t find any good salespeople and many complain about the ones they have. They aren’t delivering results. There are fewer good salespeople in the market because sales is less sought as a career and 20th century strategies are still in place along with the corresponding tactics that fail.
Unless you have an inside contact name and a referral, you’re shunned. Just try cold calling your way into an enterprise class or big business today. It’s sometimes possible but extremely difficult. If a live operator actually answers, it’s likely they are prohibited from putting a call through without a verifiable appointment or relationship. Cold calling can still work at small businesses, but if you’re going after the real money B2B client, you need a pre-established relationship or good luck Charlie!
My point here is to encourage salespeople and executives to sell successfully. The successful career salesperson today is a branding, marketing and networking expert. Their name is already familiar to their prospects. Their company is known for being in the top tier of providers in their category. When prospects are ready to buy, they get called in.
Every salesperson has the opportunity to brand himself or herself in a way congruent with their company branding. They can be their company’s Marketing Mini-Me and deliver hot leads. Ready to learn how?
- They can attend copious networking events, establish relationships and build an organic database.
- They can join trade organizations, Chambers and other B2B organizations, contributing knowledge and skills.
- They can send branded email newsletters free or super cheap.
- They can have personal websites with great blog content, also super cheap.
- They can have searchable LinkedIn profiles and network online 24/7 free.
- They can tweet pithy, relevant messages and reach thousands or more daily.
- They can print their own unique and memorable business cards and flyers cheaper than ever.
- They can support their marketing teams with field intelligence for more targeted messaging, driving more inbound leads.
- Their wise CEO or division VP can accompany them on sales calls and show prospects how serious their company is about delivering the best value in the market.
If a salesperson is still behind in catching up with 21st century sales opportunities, they can work extra hours at home. It might take a year or two to catch up, but the new way of selling is a lot of fun too!