The New Rules for Selling

 ‘The Buyers Evolution’

‘The New Rules for Selling’

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In order to show you how buying has evolved, let me take you back 16 years to when I was selling advertising space at Yellow Pages. I was a new business telesales executive and my job was to source new prospects and then sell advertising space to them. On a day to day basis I would go through the local newspapers to look for business owners who were advertising in the local newspapers but weren’t yet advertising in Yellow Pages. I did this religiously, everyday and this became my main source of lead generation. Although it was laborious and time consuming it was also a fantastic source of sales leads. If a business was advertising in a local newspaper it showed me that they were currently looking for new customers and that they were willing to invest in advertising. Once I had my new prospects all I had to do was pick up the phone and convince them that Yellow Pages was a better vehicle to reach their target market and that it was a proven method of generating qualified sales leads. 

Back then Yellow Pages was a fantastic tool to promote your business and generate quality sales leads as it was the main directory which buyers chose to source new suppliers, products or services. However, you only need to look at a Yellow Pages directory today to see that the modern day buyer very rarely uses the traditional methods of buying . The growth of the internet and online platforms has changed the way the modern day buyer researchs suppliers and selects which supplier they spend their money with. 

The New Rules for Selling 

The traditional method of selling in Yellow Pages was telesales and field sales. We were a very well established company and had great credibility in the market place so getting through to decision makers or booking a sales visit was generally quite easy as business owners actually wanted to speak to us to see how we could help them grow their business. However in today’s selling environment this is no longer the case. 

In fact it is harder now to get through to customers on the phone or book a face to face appointment than it has ever been before as customers are too busy to take sales calls and prefer to research suppliers online first. Customers want to see that you can add value and bring results before speaking to you , they want to obtain customer feedback on your products and services and see social proof that you do differentiate and that you offer the best value and deal in the marketplace. In today’s selling environment customers speak to sales people WHEN THEY WANT TO SPEAK TO YOU and after they have done their research – not when you want to speak to them. 

What this means for the modern day sales professional and business owner? 

Firstly, you must understand and accept that the buying process has evolved and that you need to evolve your sales process with it FAST. Once you have accepted that you need to change your sales process you need to identify: 

  • How your modern day buyer makes a decision to buy
  • What are the key steps in your customers buying process?
  • What key factors determine which supplier your customers select?
  • Where do they go to look and research for a suitable supplier?
  • What information do they need to see?
  • At what point your modern day buyer will take sales calls from you
  • What essentials do they need to see in sales proposals?

Once you understand your modern day buyers buying process and the steps involved, you then need to align your sales process and implement the new rules of selling – meaning you need to: 

  • Review your online and offline lead generation strategy
  • Ensure that you have a clear sales message, demonstrating the value and results that your customers get when selecting you
  • Understand how your customers want to be sold to and create a sales process that takes them through the new buyers transition
  • Understand your buyers preferred route to buying – is it online? Is it over email? Is it over the phone or face to face?
  • Use multiple online and offline platforms to get your message across to the right audience
  • Build your online credibility so that you tick all of the boxes when your modern day buyer is researching you
  • Provide social proof that you are the best provider
  • Differentiate, Differentiate, Differentiate!
  • Ensure that you position yourself as the high value and low risk provider
  • Review how you package your products and services
  • Identify the best routes to promote your products and services to a wider target audience
  • Have a strong call to action online to encourage your customers to come offline and speak with you
  • Identify when to take your prospects off line and use the traditional methods of selling such as telesales or field sales 

To adapt to the new rules of selling you need to use a blended selling approach, which includes the new methods of selling and the more traditional selling methods that are working well for you. The blended selling strategy you create will be different for every business or sales organisation and the approach you take will very much depend on your target audience and how they prefer to buy. 

To give you an example of this I would like to share a little with you about the type of blended selling approach, which I use in my own business. 

My Blended Selling Approach 

When I first started my business I really only needed two main routes to getting new customers – I either picked up the phone or I booked a face a face appointment and met with the decision makers. These days I can barely get through to any decisions makers by phone and getting face to face appointments is incredibly hard. On top of that, cold calling is incredibly time consuming and you get very little in return. Therefore, I adapted my sales strategy 3 years ago to reflect the new rules of selling and I now have a blended selling strategy, which incorporates multiple routes to get in front of new customers. A lot of the new sales strategies I implemented were in the pre sales stage. I wrote a book and provided a free copy to all prospects who provided me with their contact details. This enabled me to build a database of over 10, 000 qualified prospects. I then created a series of auto responders and email marketing campaigns that delivered great content and incredible value and when the time was right I offered prospects on my database to come offline and meet me. Some will take the opportunity straight away depending where they are in the buying process and some will need to do more research before coming offline. However, I stay in touch so that when they are ready to come offline they remember who I am. 

I also ran a series of free sales seminars to showcase what I did and to demonstrate the value and results business owners and sales professionals could get from working with me. Following each seminar I obtained testimonials in order to get bookings for future seminars. As business owners and sales professionals starting talking about the huge benefits they gained from attending, I started to get more and more invitations to speak at other peoples seminars – ‘word of mouth’ had spread my message and raised my credibility again. I was asked to speak at numerous business events and to write for leading business publications such as NABO (National Alliance of Business Owners), ISMM (Institute of Sales and Marketing Management, The Coaching Academy, The Association of Professional Coaches and Modern Selling – all of which raised my credibility, got me in front of  prospective customers and got more prospects into my database so that I could build a relationship with them until they were ready to buy. On top of that, I am a huge fan of email marketing, using tele- seminars, networking, and using Linked in and Facebook . I also use joint ventures and partnerships to help promote my products and services to a wider audience.

I have stopped counting how many routes to market I have in my business as I am always adding to them in any way I can. I can assure you of this ….you definitely need more than the traditional selling methods as your customers buying habits are constantly evolving. Your sales process and sales strategies need to evolve with it and you will need to put a lot more time and attention into your pre sales strategies. This can be time consuming, but if that is what your modern day buyer responds to, then it is certainly worth the time and it could double or triple your sales conversion rates.  

Here’s the best bit… when you know and understand your modern day buyers preferred route to buying and you take the time and effort to provide them with the content and information they need in the pre buying stage, they will call you when they want to buy,  rather than you calling them!

However, this will only happen when you adapt ‘The New Rules of Selling’

Wow…I am out of breath now and could continue to talk about The New Rules of Selling all day as the modern day buyer is truly fascinating to me. However, rather than waffle on, I would rather meet you in person to take you through this truly evolutionary process – one that all of our customers are going through! I can show you how to create the new rules of selling for YOUR business. In the next 4 weeks I will be putting on a very special 1 day training event during which I am going to reveal exactly what the modern day buyer looks like, what it means to today’s sales professionals and business owners and of course to help you create The  New Rules for Selling for your business! 

Coming soon – ‘The New Rules for Selling’ 1 day open programme

This will be an open day programme in late February and will be limited to 20 business owners and sales professionals. I will be hosting one in the north of England and one in the south. 

I am currently finalising dates and venues, however I expect to have confirmation and the full programme details ready by early next week. As a valued subscriber I will let you have the full details first and will also be offering an early bird booking discount for those who want to grab their place first. 

If you would like me to send you the full details, simply complete the short form below and I will add you to my special announcement list – meaning I will send your invitation as a priority.

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As a final note, If you have made to the end of this article you are in an elite group of business owners and sales professionals that actually understands that there has been a huge shift in the buying and selling process and that adapting to the new rules of selling is probably the most important change you need to make this year to ensure that you stay ahead of your competitors and to maximise every opportunity to sell to more customers, more often. So congratulations and I hope to meet and work with you very soon. 

Kind Regards

 

Fiona 

P.s I would love to hear your thoughts on ‘The Buyers Evolution’ and ‘The New Rules of Selling’. I would also love to know the specific challenges you are facing when selling to the modern day buyer. If you would like to leave a comment please post your comment below and I will reply individually to each comment within 48 hours.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil Warren January 19, 2012

Hi Fiona – exactly spot on again, and you and yours might therefore find this story about Yell of interest…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/jul/14/yell-small-businesses-digital-turnaround

…which is between 700 and 1,200 modern sales execs, hot-desking around Regus business centres too, where the internet connections are.

admin January 21, 2012

Hi Neil,

Thanks for your comments and for posting the article! A radical change in direction for Yellow Pages!! They have already started to adapt to the new rules for selling and have already implemented a blended sales strategy to drive their new business venture forward. I think we will see quite a bit of Yellow Pages in the next 12 months and see that they have already partnered with Doug Richards ( ex dragon on Dragons Den) to build their credibility in the SME marketplace.
Fiona

Rock January 25, 2012

It’s good to get a fresh way of looknig at it.

Jermajesty January 25, 2012

This insghit’s just the way to kick life into this debate.

Mike January 24, 2012

Great article Fiona. I’ve recently had a client and we were doing cold calling… You have to be super-great at it to get a mediocre result.

The strategies you’re suggesting are spot on! Time to talk about these with my client 🙂 Thanks for a great post!
Mike

admin January 26, 2012

Hey Mike,

Thanks for posting your comments! I am afraid the cold calling days are over. Even if you are super great at it, customers simply dont want them anymore. In my opinion it is much better to build a relationship with your customers online first. Then you can always ask them to come offline when they are ready. If done in the right way, customers will start calling you – which means no more cold calling!

Hope to see you at the workshop

Best Wishes

Fiona

Kevrell January 25, 2012

Now I know who the brainy one is, I’ll keep looikng for your posts.

admin January 26, 2012

Thanks Kevrell! The New Rules for Selling Workshop has just launched today so hope to see you there soon.
Kind Regards

Fiona

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