Selling in 2011 - More choices and less time
In December I spent some time on the road doing some research for a project with Heather and Sandra. They are great sales professionals. They sell hair products to hairdressers. Capturing a hairdressers attention when they are working is no easy task. Hairdressers are busy people and seem more concerned with their clients and staff than seeing suppliers.
Heather and Sandra know to succeed today in selling you need to be in the right place at the right time. Like a great comedian, it is all about timing.
The 2 biggest challenges facing your customers today are:
- They have more choices available when buying
- They have less time
Getting great sales results in the economy of 2011 is very different to the past. The internet has changed everything.
What are the best sales reps in Australia doing in 2011?
The best sales reps I see at the moment are doing 3 things significantly differently to the average performers.
- They use their SADAR (sales radar) very well. They spend more time with the customers and prospects that are most likely to give them most business. They limit their time very well with poor collaborators. They spend their time with people who "get them" and the value they provide. They are in front of these customers at the right time in their buying cycles.
- They are solving problems for their customers. They do this by asking the right questions and listening actively. They want their customers to have problems and ideally big problems with their current suppliers. This then allows them to demonstrate their skills to make things happen.
- Their planning is world class. Because your prospects are becoming more and more time poor and have so many choices, your reps need to be better prepared when in front of them. What value are your reps bringing to their sales calls? Just turning up, smiling and being a talking brochure is no longer enough.
The days of the order takers and shelf fillers are gone.
The successful sales professional in 2011 is:
- In front of the right prospects every day at the right time
- Looking to solve problems
- Prepared for each call
You may have read the press coverage over the New Year about the challenge for traditional retailers in the face of the growth of on line business. If all your reps are able to do is take orders, then they are of no real value to your customers anymore. The customers can place their own orders on line and they know it will be cheaper for them to do so. To survive in retail you must offer more than a better price. I would say B2B selling success is the same.
The champions in B2B selling in 2011 solve problems. They know that their customers are busy people with a huge range of choices and not enough time in their day.
They help their customers to make the right choices by understanding their needs and future challenges. An on line shopping experience can’t help you to do this.
3 questions for your sales reps
- Which accounts do you plan on spending more time with this year? Why? When is the best time to be selling to them? Give me 5 accounts you can grow and 5 accounts you would love to be selling to.
- How do you assess the chances of a customer doing business with you?
- What is the skill you are working on this year to help you improve?
Heather and Sandra will be very successful in 2011. I am confident of that. They limit their time with poor collaborators, want to get better and never go into a sales call without clarity on what they are seeking.
They have a habit of being in the right place at the right time.