The sales heroes of the 80s and 90s often left me with a sense of oil and grease – to me, they were people who were more slick and connected wheeler-dealers than consultative, customer-oriented providers. No longer are we in an age of buying-what-you-don’t-need, with money-you-don’t-have, to impress people-who-don’t-care.
The economic meltdown precipitated both the aftermath of Y2K (no disaster, reduced IT spending) and 9/11 (which created a global culture of suspicion and caution) coupled with the empowerment of the user (through Google and Yahoo with its search, through Oracle and IBM and its big data solutions, through FaceBook and LinkedIn and Twitter with social media, through consumer-based e-commerce solutions like Amazon and eBay) is driving the age of personalization, and revolutionizing the sales process.
As marketing professionals and leaders, we need to understand and support the next generation of successful sales professionals:
They will be more customer-oriented, so help them profile their customers and prospects, and communicate with the team in delivering what the customers want.
1. The new breed of sales professionals will truly and genuinely understand the current and anticipated needs of the customer, and great leaders will reward them for doing so.
2. Indeed, they will consider the needs-of-the-customer above their own immediate needs, even if it means walking away from a sale or even directing them to another, even competitive solution. The old type of successful sales professional will have a difficult time adapting to the concept, and the new sales professionals will not look and feel the same as successful sales professionals of the past.
They will be more tech-savvy, so develop the tools to help them do their job well.
3. The new generation of sales leaders will increasingly better understand enough about databases and software to know what can be efficiently customized.
4. Indeed, they will understand the types of solutions which can leverage technology to be personalized, and the types which would be difficult to make efficient, seeking scalable, customizable solutions for their customers. They may be a current sales professional who sees things differently, or someone from another field who gets-the-tech, and wants to apply it to address specific customer problems.
They will astutely leverage social media to spread the word and reputation, and it will take a successful partnership between sales and marketing to make this work!
5. The new sales professionals will proactively leverage social media and reputation management solutions to credibly spread the word about company offerings.
6. Indeed, the more experienced and savvy professionals will recruit and incentivize ambassadors to spread the word to identified niche audiences.
They will be more collaborative, at least the successful ones will be, and it’s a great opportunity for marketing and sales to bury the hatchet and find a path forward, together.
7. The new sales professionals will work with product marketing, development and marketing to ensure that the company understands and delivers precisely what the customer needs in the short term, and even anticipates what the customer will need in the longer term.
8. In fact, they would willingly mentor others sales people to better deliver solutions to customers, and understand the value of doing just that. This is a new-world-order way of looking at sales, and goes against the grain of sales-professionals-of-the-past, who covet and protect their leads, their territory, their knowledge and skills so that they can reap rewards beyond their peers.
They will be more proactive, and let’s hope partnering with marketing leaders to deliver all of the above.
9. The new sales professionals will follow the trends and manage and even anticipate the evolving needs of the customer, and proactive approach customers about how trends would impact their business and offerings and what they can do to address these shifts.
10. Indeed, they will learn from the needs and deliverables for one customer/company/industry, and be able to generalize offerings to others while optimizing customization and while conducting business at the most ethical levels.
The bottom line is that the new successful sales person is someone who is intelligent, articulate, genuine, collaborative, informed, proactive and tech-savvy, and they may or may not be in sales now. They are someone you would trust implicitly to put your company first. Where do you think we should find them? How can we groom them? Your thoughts are welcome. E-mail us at info@FountainBlue.biz.
This blog is part of FountainBlue’s Marketing Leadership in an Age of Personalization Series and is copyrighted 2013. All rights are reserved.