1st KEY] Embrace and Use Technology
In today’s selling world technology plays a huge role in the success of someone new to sales, so if you haven’t already, embrace it! If you’re just not that into things like Facebook, LinkedIn, Texting, Making Videos, utilizing a CRM properly, then just know that you will be at a severe disadvantage to those who are using them. It doesn’t require you to be a “computer genius” or anything like that in order to take advantage of these mostly FREE resources, and usually, they are all free to a salesperson because most of us work for a company that pays for the CRM we use.
What are some of the technologies out there for salespeople to utilize? Let’s talk about my 3 favorite and some quick tips on how to get started using them today!
I like using Facebook because it’s easy and it’s an effective way to market yourself and promote your personal brand. Facebook allows you to create a “fan page” or “business page” that you can build content around and run marketing campaigns from as well. Unless you have been living under a rock you have heard of Facebook and most people you know including your customers are on there.
More and more people are using some form of social media for their source of information, with mainstream media being labeled “fake news” many people turn to their Facebook feed. I know for me I get most of my breaking news that way, I try to keep my environment as positive as I can so I don’t watch much TV.
So what’s the point for you and I as salespeople?
The point is we need to be where our customer’s attention is every day. If we aren’t then are we are simply hoping that by chance we get lucky enough to engage them and sell them someday? Not such a great plan, but getting on social is, consider this, research by Forbes shows 78% of salespeople who use social outsell their peers, that’s huge!
Go to Facebook and sign up for an account if you haven’t done so already, and then once you have an account you can click on the little drop down arrow next to the question mark that’s top/right of the page which will show you a menu of options, just click “Create Page” and follow the steps. Unless you have no experience with a computer or smartphone you should be able to walk thru the steps from there and be on your way to creating a page where you can begin building content and promoting your brand! If you get stuck or have questions on this feel free to contact me I would be happy to help!
If you are working for a company of any size you most likely use a CRM system or “Customer Relationship Management” System. I cannot express to you enough how important it is for you to learn the capabilities of the system you use and take advantage of them whenever you can. A good CRM system makes it so much easier for you to follow up with your unsold customers, but even more importantly it keeps you on a regular schedule of staying in contact with your customer base. You lose a percentage of your customer base every year no matter what you do, people die, move away, stop using a product or service like the one you sell, etc. The goal with a CRM system is to make sure you don’t lose anyone because you didn’t stay in contact with them.
Don’t underestimate the power of follow up in your sales career because it’s huge. Did you know that 80% of sales made required 5 or more follow up attempts? Most salespeople follow up 1 time, actually 44% according to some studies. [source] A CRM system will give you reminders and prompts to make calls, send emails, or make some type of follow up attempt/contact. Follow up itself is an entire subject that I could give you tons of information on, but the point of this article is to make sure you understand how technology helps you, and with follow up technology is huge!
Some suggestions on learning your CRM, explore it for yourself and learn by doing. I would also ask for help from management or whoever is designated at your company for CRM training. Depending on the sales environment you work in, you could seek the help of a co-worker who uses the system successfully and is willing to help you learn more. Regardless it’s your responsibility to use the system how it’s meant to be used, and remember that no input and interest from you mean the system won’t work the way it’s designed to.
Here’s another social platform that if you’re not already a part of you should be, however, this one is a business networking social platform not one like Facebook where you’ll find a lot of personal posts. LinkedIn is a community of professionals looking to network with each other for mutual learning, and benefit. It’s a great platform for many reasons if you’re in sales, and actually, studies show that the top salespeople in companies use LinkedIn at least 6 hours per week! [source]
I have found LinkedIn as a great resource for helping me connect with other like minded professionals who can help me advance my message. Sales is all about relationships and many of these professionals on LinkedIn are just like you selling a product or service that can benefit the lives of the customers they seek. Building a network where you can refer customers to others, and where you receive referrals from others is how you build a lasting career in sales.
LinkedIn has other great tools that you can use like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and a section for articles where you can give yourself a voice in your industry and become more of an authority on what you sell. Some features you will have to pay for, but you can take advantage of all the free services LinkedIn offers and have a significant impact. It’s very important to establish your brand within a professional network like what you’ll encounter on LinkedIn. Also as a side benefit, when your customers search for you online they will get the impression they’re dealing with a professional, not the opposite.
2nd KEY] Focus on the Customer Experience
This is one that sounds so obvious but is so often missed by salespeople and companies every single day. In 2017 the customer is more and more focused on taking care of things themselves, this is why you see self-checkouts at every major store now. I always prefer to use them, and I’m sure you do too. But when a customer does need help somewhere along the sales process from a company or salesperson, they want to receive fast, efficient, honest service.
But is that what they always get? No, and often times they get the exact opposite!
We know customers want to spend less time in the store making transactions, this is why so many people spend hours shopping online, doing research ahead of time and gathering information from social media as I mentioned earlier, as well as getting recommendations from friends. But even though we know this many companies and salespeople will still do things or practice processes that go against what the consumers are telling us. Don’t do that!
Instead, find ways to streamline your process and make it as efficient and transparent as possible while maintaining a Win/Win mindset as Dr. Stephen R. Covey called it when he wrote about this in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Dr. Covey said, “Win/Win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions.” He also went on to say that “agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial, mutually satisfying,” “all parties feel good about the decision and feel committed to the action plan.”
Focus your process and actions on Customer Experience, and throughout the road to the sale keep a win/win mindset. By doing this you become mindful of the little things a customer would pick up on and you can make sure you address these things accordingly. For instance, knowing that people dread the car buying process if you’re in car sales you may choose to use a process that saves time and offers information to the customer making it easy to buy from you. It’s no longer about wearing customers down or being the high-pressure closer, it’s now about how do you make your customer feel during the road to the sale?
Part of the ROI from focusing on the customer experience is the word of mouth and referral business you receive from it which is more important today than ever before. Do you want to hear something crazy? Consumers today, our customers, trust what they read in online reviews almost as much as they do the recommendation from someone they know! That’s huge, but in taking a closer look at those stats you also find that reviews older than 90 days don’t seem as relevant to those same consumers.
So what does this mean to you?
When you deliver on the customer experience and really win over your customer, you also have the opportunity to leverage the experience by getting positive Online Reviews, Testimonials, and Customer Service Survey’s from them. If you did a great job with your customer, part of your follow up process should include getting your customer to tell their story in the form of a review. Now it’s believed 70% or more of our customers are happy to leave a review when asked to do so. But the statistic I want to make clear is this, 100% of the customers you DON’T ask for a review won’t give you one, so be sure to ask!
In the end, your personal brand is going to benefit tremendously from focusing on the customer experience, as technology makes it easier and easier for consumers to get information on their own our role as salespeople will evolve as well. What we do will be less about “selling” and more about the experience. Yes, selling skills and the abilities of a well-trained salesperson will be necessary, but they will be useless if they aren’t part of a bigger package.
3rd KEY] Create your own Content
This is something that ties into both using technology and the customer experience we just talked about so I thought it would be a good way to wrap everything up in a nice little bundle. One of the things you will find successful people have in common is they are known for bringing a tremendous amount of value to what they do. It’s what makes them stand out in the marketplace and grab their piece of the pie. Salespeople who bring a lot of added value usually create their own content and are seen as thought leaders and standouts in their field.
What are some ways to create content?
Well, you can write a Blog, make informational or instructional videos, as mentioned before getting on social media and using those platforms to build out content relevant to what you do is ideal. When you can become a resource for your customers you become more valuable than just a salesperson.
Here’s an example of how creating your own content can impact your sales career in a positive way. Let’s say I am a salesperson who sells furniture in an Ashley Home Store somewhere in the USA. I decide to start a blog that I commit to writing one informational or educational post each week. These blog post range from topics like “Best Family Sectionals of 2017” to “Microfiber Cleaning Tips.” Someone comes across my Blog about cleaning tips and it helps them remove a stain from their couch. They leave a positive comment and also share my blog post on Facebook. Then, someone who follows them on Facebook sees my blog and decides to contact me because they need furniture and I seem to be the right person to contact!
You can also use your own content as a form of follow up with customers that don’t buy from you the first visit. As you now know, it takes 5 or more follow up attempts on average to close a deal after the initial meeting. You can’t just keep calling or emailing your customers asking them “are you ready to buy now?” I mean you could, but I think you will find it more effective to drop some valuable content in there along the way as a form of follow up instead.
An example of this would be let’s say I write a blog about why the 2017 Honda CR-V is the best vehicle a family looking for a Crossover SUV. Maybe in the blog post, I compare the CR-V to its main competitors and draw a solid conclusion to why it’s the best choice. This could be an excellent form of follow-up, just by simply sending this blog to my customer in an email with a note that says something like, “as you consider your options I wanted you to check this blog post out.” They read it and find it really helpful, this then gives me a ton of credibility and it’s proven to be an effective form of follow up as well.
One last point about making your own content is that once you make it and post it online or have it saved you can always go back to it and use it again and again. Your content also keeps working for you long after you post it online. When you create a blog or any content online it stays there forever and continues to show up in searches your potential customers will be doing. That’s also why it’s important for you to put some thought behind the content you create because the better it is and the more helpful, original, and well planned the more residual value it will have.