In the age of social media, we are often told that “everything is different now” and the pace of change is accelerating faster than ever before, and we have to fundamentally rethink our sales processes to keep up with the latest developments on Twitter, LinkedIn and other new platforms to connect with customers.In truth, not “everything” is different now. No matter how many new technologies get introduced to help with sales and lead generation, the core of new business development is still human relationships.
Technology providers would like you to think that the sales world is changing so drastically that they can give you the power to build relationships, create rapport, find the prospect’s pain, differentiate your value proposition and advance you to a deal – all at the push of a button.
Great tools like LinkedIn can be effectively integrated into your prospecting efforts and help you “go faster,” especially in identification of key decision makers. But technology alone is not enough.
No matter how many fascinating new technologies get introduced to help with B2B lead generation and B2B sales, remember these basic guidelines from an old-time sales pro – Alfred Fuller, a.k.a. The Fuller Brush Man.
Alfred Fuller started selling brushes, household cleaning products and personal care products door-to-door in 1906 and built a multi-million dollar business on a simple, straightforward sales process.
Sales process from the Fuller Brush Man:
- Find your most likely prospect
- Meet that person (face time is still in great demand although many of us will settle for phone call)
- Establish a relationship with them
- Tell your story
- Listen to their response and identify how your products/services fit those needs
- Respond accordingly and Close the Sale.
Social media and other online tools can be helpful for step 1: “Find your most likely prospect.” But beyond that, steps 2-6 are all up to the relationship-building and communication skills of the sales person. Once you get a customer on the phone, or get a meeting with a customer, the B2B sales process is pretty much unchanged from your parents’ (or grandparents’) time.
So what should you do? Ignore social media altogether?
Of course not. Social media is a valuable tool, but you have to strike a good balance of online marketing and traditional sales efforts.
Here are a few lessons:
- Learn to use the new tools. Don’t ignore the Internet. By all means, get in and learn how to use Twitter, LinkedIn, and other tools to connect with customers. It’s to your advantage as a sales person to be well-versed in these new technologies, or at least familiar with how to use them.
- Don’t expect the new tools to solve everything for you. You still need to make the calls and do the hard work of appointment setting. Social media and other online technologies aren’t magic. They can enable your work as a sales person but they don’t take all the work off your plate.
- Don’t fall for all the promises and hype. E-mail and social media marketing are not going to eliminate the need for cold calls. These new technologies should be put in your B2B lead generation toolbox just like the phone became a great B2B sales tool.
In spite of all the marketing and social media tools available today, in many ways it’s still “your parents’ sales process.”
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