Thanks to social media and professional networks, today’s more informed, savvy, and frankly empowered buyer has forever altered the buyer-seller relationship. The balance of power has titled in the buyer’s favor at the expense of many of us in sales.
But as with any evolution or indeed revolution, there are those that adapt and prosper. We’re witnessing the emergence of a new type of salesperson. Let’s unimaginatively call them “Salesperson 2.0.”
Salesperson 2.0 has met the challenge of the more sophisticated, informed buyer by becoming a more sophisticated and informed seller. They’ve realized that the skills needed to be successful are more expansive than ever before, and that mastery of each is critical to success. These skills can be categorized as follows:
- Research Skills
- Business Acumen
- Fundamental Selling Skills
Let's explore each one further.
Salesperson 2.0 realizes that while the buyer has access to a wealth of information about their products/services as well as access through professional network with current customers and competitors, it also works in reverse.
Salesperson 2.0 has developed keen research skills and has established a regimen of dedicated time to skillfully leverage social media and personal online networks to learn more about their target buyer, business issues and opportunities, and what’s happening in their organization/market segment.
The days of a salesperson using superficial knowledge of the mechanics of business are gone. Sales reps cannot fruitfully research their target buyer if they don’t understand how their business or market segment operates. They can’t add value to their interactions with the buyer if they don’t understand how to parlay the business impact their organization has brought to other businesses in their sector.
Salesperson 2.0, on the other hand, not only understands the topline but also the bottom line -- and everything in-between.
In order to leverage the wonderful interconnectedness that social media and professional networks provide, sales people need to get heard above the noise. Salesperson 2.0 has added marketing skills to their arsenal to communicate in a concise fashion, distilling down to only those pieces of information that add value, provide insight, and attract the attention of their buyer.
This gives Salesperson 2.0 a competitive advantage in a socially powered buying environment.
Fundamental Selling Skills
Some time back I coined the phrase, “If you can’t sell offline, you can’t sell online.” And nothing has so far proven me wrong.
Although social media, professional networks, and an array of software applications have made it easier and more convenient to find target buyers, salespeople still have to know what to do once they find them. Their interactions may be more virtual than before, but they still need to apply fundamental selling skills to the equation. They have to adapt them and learn to apply them differently, but they still need them. Technology in any form will not sell for them, nor will it compensate for any shortcomings as a sales rep.
Salesperson 2.0 understands this and devotes as much time to perfecting their selling craft as they do to integrating the other skills mentioned above.
So the choice is pretty stark for salespeople: Either evolve to become the multi-dimensional Salesperson 2.0 or risk being left behind by a buyer that has moved on.
What skills do you see necessary for today's buyer-driven sales environment?