The socially powered Web has become the tool of choice to find business and personal information about the people, products, services, and companies we are considering doing business with. Because people know they can do a quick bit of research and often discover additional information before making purchase decisions, it’s become a standard part of the process for both buyer and seller.
This creates tremendous opportunity while raising the bar for anyone that sells a product or service.
I’m presenting to a group of sales teams at a major technology conference later this summer and here’s what I plan to tell them.
There are no more blind dates. Your prospects can know more about you, your products, your company and your solutions than you with very little work. And the same holds true – you can and should know all about a prospect’s challenges, strategies, peers, and constraints before you ever pick up the phone to call them.
Social media and search have irreversibly merged the worlds of sales and marketing. Where the marketing message and the sales relationship building tactics begin and end is a moving target and you must adopt a new set of marketing related behaviors to thrive in this new order.
There are two distinct paths, find and be found, you must develop whether you are creating a marketing focused lead conversion system or you are a remote salesperson trying to become more effective and valuable to your customers. Many organizations are using new tools such as LinkedIn to find and connect with prospects, but they are missing the ability to go deep into the world of the prospect in order to understand their needs and priorities. Few sales organizations, however, understand that prospects are using the web to discover more and more about the individual making the sales call. After all, that may be the person they need to trust to ensure what was promised gets delivered.
Today’s marketing and sales teams must work together to master both.
- You must create and deploy simple listening routines
- You must get very good at understanding how to network online
- You must know more about the industry, company, prospect and challenges than your competitors
- You must learn how to filter and aggregate the sea of information to turn it into context and value
- You must claim lots of digital real estate and profiles in your name and that of the company
- You must start to produce your own expert content and engage your customers to do the same
- You must connect with and be a connector for your customer community
- You must own 10 of the first results in Google for your name
You must own and grow both of the above skill sets in order to be the most effective marketer or sales person. It’s no longer enough to have a great product or solution. Getting in front of the right prospect in an environment where you have credibility has become very difficult. Even if you manage to do so, the final decision to go with your solution may ride on what a prospect finds online just before they push the buy button.
Image credit: megananne
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