“We’ll compete on price every single time unless our people show up with insight and perspective that has real impact for the customer. I need to turn a traditional, transactional sales organization into badass McKinsey-style consultants.”
I was sitting at breakfast with the chief revenue officer for a global technology company. I felt the massive pressure on his shoulders to deliver the growth plan. In order to get there, he has to transform. He isn’t alone.
Professional sales is changing. Forrester predicts that 1 million B2B sales jobs will disappear by 2020. The first ones to go will be the salespeople who can’t differentiate themselves — who can’t make themselves part of the value proposition. In 2020, the most successful salespeople will be the teachers — the ones who can help clients think differently about the future of their business.
That level of expertise and insight requires more than understanding your own products and services. It’s more than keeping up on industry news. Information is everywhere, and everyone has the same access. Succeeding in sales in 2020 will require a new level of acumen, process discipline and preparation.
How can you succeed at becoming a much bigger part of the value proposition? Here are 5 keys.
5 Ways to Succeed in Sales in 2020
1. Do your homework.
I get four or five cold sales emails a day. Rarely does the seller take the time to properly research my company. As a prospect, I’m a pretty easy target. I have years of blog content in the archives available for anyone who’s interested in my business. Any rep could subscribe to my YouTube channel, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to my blog to better understand how to help my business. If a seller researched me, determined I was a good fit for their solution or service, and reached out in a way that focused on me and my business challenges, you better believe I’d pause before hitting “Delete.”
2. Find opportunities for customization and personalization.
Do you believe deeply that you can help the customer? Prove it. Get specific. Tell prospects why they should care, and show up prepared for impact.
Your ability to customize for every client is imperative. It’s what the customer expects today. In this video, I share three keys to communicate your value proposition centered around the customer.
VIDEO: The Era of Customization
3. Be a teacher.
Teaching sells. I walked into a client meeting this week and they had already read my last 10 blog posts and consumed a bunch of video content. That created an immediate connection and helped us have a much more personal, productive meeting. That’s the blog delivering value and doing the work.
Today, expertise is the price of admission to earn the opportunity to sell, and it pays to demonstrate that expertise where your customers are spending time. Teaching is a gateway into a credible relationship built on trust. Look for every opportunity to contribute value and provide expert guidance up front. If you aren’t ready to deliver compelling insight (on your industry, your solution, the market, your customer), go back to step #1.
4. More isn’t better. Better is better.
Automation makes it easy to blast out an email to 20,000 people on a list. Somebody’s gotta respond, right? Wrong. I cannot think of a faster way to take a relationship from neutral to negative than to consistently assault someone’s inbox with irrelevant information. Instead, slow down and make every interaction count. Every touchpoint with a potential customer is a chance to add value and advance the relationship. So often, “less but better” is the right approach.
5. Human connection.
Sales isn’t just about the science. There’s a craft to professional selling. Look for ways to build a meaningful connection. That might mean closing the laptop and finding a way to talk to your clients and prospects, on the phone or in person. Can you differentiate and win on human connection? The best way I know how is to deliver a little bit more than the customer expects every single time. Be remarkable consistently.
If you are preparing to win in a 2020 world it’s essential to embrace process discipline, brand the sales experience and deliver impact that a customer knows they cannot get from anyone else. In the eyes of the customer, you are the company!
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.