The fact is the internet has fundamentally changed the way people are buying things which, if you follow the logic, fundamentally changes the way we sell.
1. Do Your Research
The thesis behind HubSpot's success is that people are becoming incredibly good at doing research on the internet. If people have a problem they are looking to solve, most of the time they'll have a good idea of how to search out a solution. Because of this, when a prospect lands on your website and contacts you via email, phone, or by filling out your lead form the chances are pretty high that they are a good fit for you.
The ease with which one can research is not just limited to customers. As sales people, we have the ability to research our prospects just as easily as they can do research on what we have to offer. In order to be successful you're going to need to truly understand what your customer needs and how you can provide them with the right solution. It's no longer about what a great guy you are and whether or not you are going to take them to a nice lunch. Instead, it's about whether you can actually offer them the best solution possible.
Use the tools available like LinkedIn and Facebook to find out as much as you can about your prospects. If you’re selling to another business, go to their website and check out what they do. Don't just give it a quick glance over. Dive deep into their business, so that you can fully understand all of the ins and outs.
2. Always Be Listening
Glengarry Glen Ross is one of my favorite movies, but long gone are the days when you can succeed with the unobstructed focus on “A.B.C” (Always Be Closing). The key to selling in 2011 is not the clever positioning statement about your product but what questions you ask to understand clearly what your prospect needs to be successful. Instead of following "ABC" I coach my team to “A.B.L” (Always Be Listening). Ask the right questions, listen closely and the close will become clear for you and your prospect without fancy closing techniques.
You should be asking at least as many questions as the prospect. Think about what value are you adding to the transaction? What are they looking to achieve? How can you help them get there? And if you can't help, then tell them that. Here’s why.
3. Manage Your Reputation
Ten years ago it was hard for your reputation to travel. Now with LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc… if you have a less than positive interaction with a prospect word is going to spread…fast. As I said in the previous paragraph, a sale is no longer solely about the close. The sale continues well beyond when the prospect signs on the line that is dotted. In fact the sale keeps getting made for the majority of the relationship. Making sure your customers remain happy will not only keep them coming back, but it will also help you attract new customers. While building and maintaining a phenomenal reputation is no easy task, the benefits make it well worth the trouble.
There will continue to be many changes in technology that will affect the way people buy which impacts the way we need to sell. The important thing to remember is that selling is both an art and a science and if you don't balance the two correctly then you aren't going to be successful. How have changes in technology affected your selling strategy? Please answer in the comments below.
If you want to learn more about how to build a social selling machine with HubSpot . Please Join us at MIT on April 13th from 6:30PM to 8:30PM.
Originally published Mar 22, 2011 12:01:00 PM, updated October 20 2016