Sales has never been a particularly stable field, but recent years have seen a rapid acceleration in changes across technology and culture. That means your buyers have changed the way they buy. That means that your competitors have changed the way they sell. And that means that if you don't keep up with them both, your company's going to be out of business in no time flat. You can buy time to catch up, if you've focused on building relationships with your existing customers, relationships that can stand a bit of testing. But in the end, you've got to evolve to match the buyers and the competition. In this article, we'll discuss just how buyers have changed the way they buy and how your competition has changed the way they sell, and what you should be doing to keep up in this rapidly changing world.
The first place that buyers have changed the way they buy: process. The savvy buyer has always demanded more from the sales person than their less-informed peers-the mere existence of savvy buyers isn't a change. But the fact that a modern buyer has more information at their fingertips than some industry experts did in past years, and moreover knows where to find and how to use that information has greatly changed the way they buy-because now, they're ALL savvy buyers. Sure, there's still a difference between an expert in your industry buying from you and a fresh face, but that fresh face can bring up reviews on their mobile device while talking to you and see what those experts have to say.
Relying on ignorance was never a good way to sell-now, it's a dead strategy. Your competition has already changed the way they sell, making sure sales agents know enough to sell on facts and figures and debate and dismiss likely criticisms. Have you?
Buyers have changed the way they buy in terms of actually making purchases, as well. The internet, especially as delivered through mobile devices, has increasingly brought to the forefront of buyer mentality a need for immediate, no-hesitation gratification. If you can't provide a would-be buyer with your product through a hassle-free mobile-friendly storefront with next-day shipping, your competitors that have already changed the way they sell will make the sale in your place. That's not to say that taking your time and making proper sales has lost its value, or that every customer demands such immediate turnaround-but the change has happened, and you're missing out if you can't provide fast turnaround to those that have embraced it.
Of course, what buyers buy has changed as well. Digital products continue to encroach on their physical counterparts-e-books, software solutions to traditional hardware problems. The rise of cross-functionality and integration of disparate pieces of software and hardware has also changed the buyer's market. When you sell, are you taking these factors in to account? If you're trying to sell the same products the same way to the same demographics, you're probably shooting yourself in the foot. Companies that stay the same will find themselves increasingly placed into a smaller and smaller niche-those that adapt within that niche, or to expand out of it, will succeed. Those that don't will dwindle out of existence. Are you watching how your industry has changed?
Behind the Scenes.
Will all these changes happening on the buyers' end, sellers need to work hard to get ahead of changes. That means paying attention to the subtle indicators of what's going to happen next. That means more than changing the way you sell to customers, it means changing how you analyze those sales, how you maintain your pipeline, how you recognize success or quantify failure when there's so much noise to cancel. Modern ERP and sales people trained in its use are effectively mandatory for any future-thinking business.