The internet has revolutionized the way customers buy today. Aggressive sales tactics won’t work anymore. Outbound sales techniques, like cold calling, won’t work either. The fact is you’re no longer in charge of the sales process: the customer is. And you need to adapt your selling to match how your customers are now buying if you want to keep existing business and gain new customers. If you don’t, you won’t stay profitable or competitive for much longer. You need to cater to your customers’ needs.
Here’s how to change your selling to the new sales process.
Guide Buyers on Their Journey
Your sales team’s job is no longer to convince customers to buy. It’s now time to guide their journey through the sales process. Buyers will now go through more than half of the sales process alone. They’ll identify their own needs and go online to research different options for solutions. They’ll check out company websites. They’ll read reviews. They’ll compare features and prices. They’ll do all of this work before they even consider talking to a salesperson.
If you try to aggressively get them to buy before they’re ready, they’ll shut down. It won’t work. They strive for independence and control and you must let them have it. The most you can do for the first half to three quarters of the journey is to guide them in the hopes that they purchase from you.
Now you might be thinking about just how you’re supposed to guide customers if you can’t sell to them. You do it with content. You need to be there, online, where and when your customers are looking for information. If you can be a part of their research process, by providing them the valuable, interesting, and original content that they seek before making a decision, you will be at the forefront of their minds when they do decide to buy, because your content will make you a thought leader—an expert. You’ll gain credibility and you’ll gain the trust of buyers, so they’ll want to buy from you.
Use Inbound Marketing
So you know you have to use content to get into the minds of your buyers early in their journey. How do you get your content to them? With inbound marketing. Inbound marketing is an absolute must in today’s business world. Create an awesome website that’s optimized for SEO. Create a web presence on social media. Use PPC advertisement. Start a blog. Perform these online activities so you can make it as easy as possible for buyers to find and read your content, whether they’re looking for solutions on search engines, on Facebook, or anywhere else.
For your content to be relevant to your customers, for increased effectiveness, you need to get personal. Generic email blasts and blog entries and social media posts that are targeted to no one in particular won’t resonate with your target audience. You need to know your customer base now. You can’t treat all of your customers in the same way. They’re all different, and if you want to hit the right note with all of them, you need to know more about them. You need to identify their needs, pain points, and desires and speak to them in terms of solutions. Gather customer data, build buyer personas, segment your customer lists, and use targeted, buyer-focused content.
Because your selling now has to be on the customers’ terms, you have to be patient. You can’t force purchasing decisions on them. All inbound marketing and selling strategies need to be built for the long term. You won’t get results overnight, so you’ll need to be patient. But once you start to see results, you’ll be more profitable than ever before.
Your future success depends on adapting your selling to the new way customers buy today.