This might be the Information Age, but there’s plenty of misinformation floating around the digital world. Wake-up call: You're in the wrong job if you believe everything you read about lead generation techniques.
The biggest myth is that 57 percent of the buying process is complete before prospects ever talk to salespeople. Believe that and you'll be in the same boat as everyone else—waiting for inbound leads to come in. Some of those leads might pan out, but more often than not, your team will end up cold calling people who don’t really want to hear from them.
Referral sellers don’t wait around for leads. They get in early, often before prospects know they have a need. Armed with referral introductions, these salespeople get meetings with decision-makers in one call. They’ve already earned prospects’ trust, so they learn things the competition doesn’t hear. They uncover clients’ real problems and offer tailored solutions. That's what true sales is all about.
What Buyer 2.0 Does (and Doesn’t) Need from Sellers
Once upon a time, prospects looked to salespeople for information. Now, with a quick Google search and a little time on social media, they can learn all about our companies, products, and services. Before they make contact, they have usually checked out our websites, compared pricing, read a whitepaper or two, listened to a webinar, and/or viewed a demo. They’ve also researched what our competitors have to offer.
Some take this to mean prospects and clients don’t really need salespeople anymore—that the automation of selling has made us irrelevant. And that’s straight fiction.
Prospects need salespeople just as much as ever. But their needs have changed. They don’t need reps to give them demos or canned sales pitches. They can get all that information online. What they do need is expertise and insights about what does and doesn’t work, all of which a smart sales rep with industry experience can deliver.
Changing the Sales Conversation
While buyers are now very good at homework, they don’t always know exactly what they need from us or how to get it most efficiently and cost-effectively. They usually don’t fully understand the commitment needed (from themselves and their teams) to implement solutions that guarantee knock-your-socks-off ROI.
But we do. We can identify prospects’ pain points and deliver exactly the right solutions by asking smart questions and listening carefully to their answers.
That’s how salespeople deliver value—real value—in the digital age. And technology won’t do that, nor will it provide a huge advantage over the competition, who has access to the same gadgets, gizmos, and applications. The most powerful deal-closing tool is still a living, breathing salesperson who can ask the right questions, apply years of experience, and offer tailored solutions for each client.
Let your competitors believe the myths. While they’re waiting for the phone to ring, you’ll be turning sales leads into new customers.
Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling—the only business-development strategy proven to convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust and Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal. To learn more, visit www.NoMoreColdCalling.com. You can also follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.