By Mark Allen Roberts
Assuming since you have never experienced poor sales results you never will is like assuming since you have never caught the flu you will never get sick. I hear it all the time; “Mark your content about staying close to how and why your buyers are buying is interesting but we don’t have a Sales Problem to fix”. Congratulations, and I hope it stays that way. My personal experience for over 30 years now has seen however businesses operate in cycles. One predictable cycle you want to avoid is when the phone “just stops ringing” and you don’t know why.
The leading cause of why businesses experience poor sales performance is losing touch with their market, their buyers, and specifically how they buyers buy and the criteria they are using today.
I returned home from Walgreens after getting my annual flu shot and my mind was racing with all the misperceptions the others in line were sharing about the flu, how you get it, how to cure it and so on. Imagine my surprise when my own wife said “why do you get a flu shot every year?….I have never had a flu shot and I have never had the flu” I went on to share with her that I am happy she has never been sick with the flu, and that just because she has never had the flu it does not mean she never will. The flu changes, evolves and new strains are born everyday and she may have been immune to the past strains but that is no assurance she is immune to current or future viruses.
I will close out this train of posts on how just as there are myths about the flu we also find myths about sales, sales performance and how to prevent poor sales performance. Myths that become beliefs over time are dangerous as they often impede and impair the preventative measures that could have kept your business healthy. Businesses you do not stay close to their markets and their buyers run the risk of poor sales. If your business is in the practice of telling your market as apposed to serving your market are already infected and will experience a poor sales performance outbreak often at the least convenient time. As someone who helps businesses get back on track and build sales velocity, I listen for common statements that indicate a virus is present in the core of their sales team. I listen for comments like;
Our buyers don’t need that…
Our buyers do not value …..
No one in our industry does…so why should we?
Our customers are not smart enough to understand…
Everyone in our industry has this policy …
We have been in business for 50 years we know what our buyers need…
We can not afford to ….
And my recent personal favorite: No buyers in our industry use the internet or social media in making buying decisions.
As I have said before, (and will probably say again soon) you could say that…but you would be wrong!
As someone who spends time in markets, a variety of markets, meeting with buyers on a regular basis one common trait they all have is buyers use the internet to educate themselves. The role sales once played as keepers of the product features and benefits information keys is over. Industry statistics show 70%-80% of the sales process is over before the buyer calls you today. Where are they gathering information about products that can solve their immediate problems? We see they are using the internet, social networks, industry trade group forums, and utilizing technology to gain product referrals and recommendations.
Not sold yet? Don’t believe me? Ok….In a recent Forbes article the author shared 19 things successful people do using social media. The article shares how 69% of adults admit to using social media. Ah ..I hear those voices again …”Not in OUR industry Mark”…Really?
Lets take a look at a recent white paper by HIS Global Spec titled; Social media use in the Industrial Sector. I really want everyone to download and read this report’s content. Some of the findings included;
- 81% follow business / groups within their industry
- 26% reference or read work related content
- 36% had a Google + account
- 47% view you-tube for work related purposes
- 85% viewed you-tube product demos
- 80% viewed How to video on you-tube
Why? Why and how are people even in the industrial B2B sector using Social media?
- 52% keep up with the latest industry news and technology
- 48% reach additional contacts and network
- 37% find peer reviews and recommendations
If your business does not believe that up to 80% of your buyers are doing their homework on the web prior to calling your salesperson, or that your buyers are not using social media I can only guarantee you one thing; your company is invisible to a large number of buyers who are actively searching to solve problems your company can solve for them. Web sites that are basically virtual brochures that take up cyber space because we are supposed to have one because everyone else does do not help sales teams achieve sales goals or create a 21st Century Sales Pipeline.
Market leaders understand how their buyers buy, where they shop and gather information and leverage technology to insure their product or service solution is found.
Has anyone on your team said: “our buyers do not use the internet”?
Have you been in a meeting where a senior leader said we do not need to invest in that social media mumbo jumbo…?
How were your sales results from your last new product launch?
Are your salespeople asking for more or less qualified leads to meet with?
Some business leaders believe because they have never had sales problems in the past they never will and this is like believing if you have never had the flu you never will. The reality is just as flu viruses change over time so too will your buyers, their buyer journey and buying criteria. One change we all must face is buyers today are using the internet more than ever before and they are leveraging social media. To immunize your sales from future sales problems you must embrace the process of understanding how your buyers buy and strategically embrace new technologies the buyers are using today.