In today’s self-serve buyer’s journey, 57% of the purchasing decision is complete before a prospect makes contact, which greatly impacts the sales landscape for Xerox channel partners. For example, cold calls are no longer accepted; in fact, a whopping 90 percent of today’s B2B decision makers won’t respond to cold outreach at all, but that’s not the only outdated sales tactic to address.
If you’re using the outdated sales habits below, modernize these techniques to better meet the needs of your copy and print buyers:
- Cold calls have evolved: With email, content marketing, search engine optimization(SEO) and social media, there are a variety of ways to connect with prospects that don’t involve picking up the phone and interrupting their day. As buyers, we inherently know this, but some salespeople have not let go of the idea that gaining trust and credibility with someone you’ve never met is no longer happening on the phone. However, even though cold calls aren’t well received, it’s still necessary to prospect over the phone.
Instead, use warm calling techniques:
- Conduct research before calling to find ways you can help.
- Use insights and statistics to explain how you will save them time and money.
- Highlight customer-centric reasons for calling, such as knowing their businesses challenges and how you can help
- Connect and engage on social media before calling and leverage those interactions as an introduction on the phone.
- Personalize conversations so prospects know you’re calling with purpose.
- Over selling is outdated: Yesteryear’s sales cycles were longer, slower and more cumbersome. In the old sales paradigm, buyers depended on salespeople to be experts and gave them many touch points to over sell. That approach isn’t working today. Buyers have an advantage; they know more about us than we know about them before we meet. It’s a game changer. With savvy B2B buyers narrowing the playing field prior to opening buying conversations, sales teams must think differently:
- When you don’t know an answer never resort to lying
- Address the details behind your prospect’s pain points
- Be an educator and a consultant first and a salesperson second
- Social media is a big deal: Social media is today’s online networking and word-of-mouth marketing. As more buyers turn to online connections for opinions, suggestions and information, social takes a front seat in demand generation and closing deals. This is evident across B2B social platforms and can be seen on your feeds as people use social media for talent searches, product selections, and supplier recommendations. With social media algorithms leaning more towards engagement, it’s no longer enough to just post content. Today’s users must like, share, comment and start conversations on social platforms to gain traction.
Start with these Xerox Channel Partner blogs to find your footing on social media:
4 Social Media Trends to Drive Sales for Xerox Channel Partner
6 ways Channel Partners can Generate More Demand by Increasing LinkedIn Connections
3 Social Media Hacks for Marketing Success
- Less telling more asking: The power in the sales relationship has shifted from the salesperson armed with answers leading the way, to well-informed buyers setting the pace. Sales methodology followed suit. Making assumptions and telling prospects what they need and why is a quick way to guarantee you won’t get the sale.
Instead, build rapport and relationships and leverage the buyer’s point of view to ensure you become their trusted advisor:
- Be authentic and curious
- Ask open-ended questions that paint a picture of your prospect’s needs
- Relate to them and listen to their pain points
- Use the discovered challenges to facilitate solution-based conversations
- In closing… Today’s prospects arrive armed with knowledge and when it comes to supplier selection, they want to know you’re there to help – for the long haul. Instead of focusing on closing the deal, build trust and meet prospects on their terms, where, when, and how they want to. The close will follow.
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I have to admit I’m always I’ve been astounded when I read articles about sales technique and selling in the modern era. When organizations speak to the fact that selling has changed almost universally and their first topic is that cold calling is dead, cold calling is changed, and it has been been replaced with social marketing.
And again almost to a man, the rest of the articles go on to speak to how you can engage and speak to clients or customers about your product or service. Maybe it’s me, but there seems to be a huge gap between not engaging people, cold calling, and here’s how you’re supposed to talk to people.
The entire print for pay and print device manufacturing industry is shrinking. I don’t think Xerox or Konica Minolta or Ricoh or any other manufacturer will dispute that fact. And yet their approach to capturing market share, create customer loyalty, advancing profit margins for their shareholders, all seems to be the revolving around the fact that we are going to change our business model and do the same thing with a new product set to engage clients.
For what it’s worth, after over 40 years in the industry I have never had a decision-maker not welcome a call when they had a need to buy what I was selling. Sounds pretty simplistic I know, but the fact that cold calling doesn’t create some magical interaction between a C level or decision-making individual in a company isn’t new news.
The fact is the sales cycle is no longer a cycle. It’s now a sales continuum where you engage potential buyers and decision-makers at a place in the cycle much further along usually than you did in the past seems accurate. You have to be prepared to provide them with the answers and overcome the objections they’ve already framed in their mind. But it doesn’t negate the fact that you still hae to find a way to engage them. Please, if I am missing something here, pipe up and correct me. If there is some magic way to speak to a potential customer that doesnt involve speaking (I said proactive, 1 on 1, mano y mano) please advise.
Not understanding how to speak to a customer once engaged, well that’s a training issue. That’s an issue of making sure your sales professionals understand they can’t simply send a brochure and hope to wow someone with the new feature function and benefits of your product
I guess what I’m saying ithere is a sales linkage thats missing. The simple fact that you must reach the client that is ready to buy what youre selling. And it’s not magic. If you want to sell more you have to speak, and I mean speak with words face-to-face or on the phone or video chat or WebEx or whatever function you can find, to a decision-makers live and in person. When organizations large and small recapture the fact that salespeople make sales happen, business will begin to organically grow again.
I’ll stop and get off my soapbox now I have some calls I have to make…
“Sales is a contact sport”
Reply on behalf of McNall Mason
Thanks for your input, Robert! It seems in large part we’re in agreement. Personal conversations are still relevant and cold calling is not dead, it just moved to social media. When you say “there is a sales linkage that’s missing” do you mean more training needs to happen? If so, that’s true for many organizations especially in B2B where the adoption of new or evolved sales and marketing tactics comes more slowly. However, many other organizations want to self-serve their training which creates a need for articles like this (meant to drive awareness). I agree, salespeople still do make sales happen but the process is more collaborative alongside buyers who are better informed.
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