The sales landscape has changed as buyers have gained access to more information, and the result for sellers is changing rules for sales tools.
Subhanjan Sarkar runs a company called Pitch Link, which helps companies solve the problem of being able to scale by finding good salespeople.
Balance of power
David Cancel wrote a book called Conversational Marketing in which he suggests that the balance of power has shifted from supply to demand and from company to customer. Thirty years ago, selling centered around the ability to mass-produce products in factories. Walmart’s mantra at the time was “stack them high and sell them low.”
The system used to work with the information estimate tree that existed between suppliers and buyers, because the suppliers and makers always had more information available to them than the buyers did. The buyer never knew, prior to the Internet, that certain items were available from other sources for lower prices.
Over the last 20 years, the buying and selling process has been disrupted. Most of us won’t say it out loud because so much of the information from the previous era becomes irrelevant.
Subhanjan said that people often challenge him on this premise because they can point to places where the old way of doing things still works. Though it may still work, it is less effective. Email open rates, for example, have dropped from 40 percent to 2.8 percent. People aren’t taking calls from people they don’t know.
The fundamental shift is this: traditional sales was based on the principle of interruption but buyers don’t want interruptions. This doesn’t mean that reps shouldn’t do their jobs anymore. It simply means that reps must change the way they do things.
He points out that they are called salespeople for a reason. They aren’t called prospecting people or lead-generation people. But they are expected to fill up a CRM, to write emails, to prospect, and to make phone calls.
In traditional sales, people knew each other because they went to school together. They played football or baseball together and then they graduated and one became the manager of the local factory while the other became a salesman. They built trust over the course of 20 years.
Now people trust brands rather than salespeople. They might eventually trust the salesperson over five to 10 years of working together, but initially, it’s the brand.
As Subhanjan built the company, he understood the story behind the company’s development in great detail. He could explain why the company evolved the way it did because he was in the thick of it. Then, he hired a hot-shot sales guy who understood marketing automation and social selling, but his storytelling wasn’t as authentic.
The company’s story wasn’t being delivered authentically, so the company discovered a need to standardize its narrative. The more tactical problem was that without face-to-face meetings, the sellers couldn’t make pitches. The presentations got postponed.
Small organizations that only have three interested prospects will struggle if they aren’t able to meet with two of them for weeks or even months. That’s catastrophic.
Finally, they discovered that even if they could meet someone within a prospective company, it was often difficult to schedule meetings with the decision-makers.
How do we establish our product or service or value proposition? And how do we do it so that our prospect isn’t rushed?
PitchLink worked to create an experience that was as close to face-to-face as possible without actually being face-to-face. It could never be exactly the same but they worked to create a system that allowed room for narratives and questions. They built a tool that allows users to link up any kind of file format like a playlist.
So imagine how you would pitch to a prospect about your product. Just as you would start by greeting the prospect and thanking him for the time, you can record audio or video of the same personalized introduction. The moment the prospect clicks the link, he immediately sees the personalized greeting.
Your pitch will include the pitch, the scenario, a demo, and a comparison with competitors. All the elements of a typical pitch can be packaged into a single product and sent as a link to your prospects. You can effectively do all the things you would do in person by way of this link.
These packaged presentations free your prospects to consume your information when they have the time and mental capacity to do so. They’ll also be free to engage with specific parts of your presentation multiple times if necessary.
Once they’ve done that, they can decide whether the product is right for them, and then invite others to view it. All invitees see the ame pitch on the same interface and they can ask questions within this interface. All users can see the questions asked and the answers that were given.
Everyone is always on the same page.
Clients are busy and focused on other things. The way we sold in the past won’t always work, so we have to evaluate new options and provide them in a way that’s best for the prospects. #SalesEvolution
The biggest myth perpetuated on us is that great sales guys close deals. Suhanjan believes that sales are closed by the buyer who finally signs the deal. He believes that sellers must respect that shift.
The buyer is in control of the process, so we must rethink the way we talk about value transaction. Sales has evolved so much that perhaps we can’t even talk about sales anymore.
“Changing Rules for Sales Tools” episode resources
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