Sales Needs to Change

pattersonprocessIn a recent presentation I delivered, I talked about how John Patterson, NCR founder is typically credited with being the father of the structured sales process largely in use today. Patterson wanted a way to create a repeatable pattern of sales success and in 1887 rolled out his NCR Primer.

Patterson created a detailed management system to monitor and train company salesman. Scripts were given to salesman to memorize and they were each assigned territories to cover. Patterson strove to create a sales method that encompassed all aspects of selling, from the calculation of quotas and commission rates to the motivation of discouraged salesmen. Sound familiar?

Your sales teams have likely been indoctrinated in Patterson’s approach, given that the majority of today’s sales training programs still focus on methods introduced by Patterson 122 years ago. I think it’s about time for a refresh!

Sales leaders have told me of their struggles to increase sales using tactics that have worked for them in the past, but what they overlook (or haven’t quite accepted) is that the way sales is conducted has fundamentally changed. Now more than ever, it is a buyer’s world. And buyers have about had it with sales people who over promise and under deliver, who tell them half truths and outright lies just to get the sale in the door.

Today’s sales success will hinge on understanding and participating in the fluid, collaborative, conversational nature of the internet. This new world is driven by “conversation” and creates what Gerhard Gschwandtner; Publisher of Selling Power Magazine calls a conversation economy. No longer do companies dictate how prospects will buy, nor can they continue to pretend they really know what’s best for the client. This sales world is all about adapting to what the customer wants. You must match your sales process with your customer’s buying process and they definitely will not be the same.

On the internet your prospects are talking to each other. You must be there to engage in the conversation. When buyers have a need – they must think of you, but if your sales people aren’t visible on popular networking sites like LinkedIn then they will be locked out. Make it first priority to ensure that your sales people have profiles that are:

  • 100% complete
  • Include a professional head shot
  • Utilize key words that your buyers would use to search out your services in the summary and name header
  • Create a compelling summary of your offering
  • Utilize applications to add more oomph to your profile. Include a presentation using Slideshare, create an Amazon book list or integrate blog posts.
  • Use status updates strategically to stay visible with your network.
  • Build solid search lists of ideal prospects and work your network to secure introductions.

These are but a few of the ways to get moving with LinkedIn to build your buying network. So what are you waiting for? If your sales people keep selling the same way they always have…you will only end up with more stress and lower sales. What worked in past no longer does so it’s time to adapt to this new world…now!

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