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Evolve or Die: How to Survive and Thrive in the Changing Sales Landscape

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) Leadership Summit in Chicago. The title of my presentation was “Evolve or Die: How to Survive and Thrive in the Changing Sales Landscape”.

The following are some of the themes I discussed:

• The Changing Sales Landscape
Overall, the role of a sales professional is dramatically changing. The “good old days” of dialing for dollars are over. Today, only 2 percent of cold calls result in an appointment. So, if you’re hoping your “dial days” will result in some big deals, you’re going to be very disappointed.Today’s sales people have to accept a basic truth: Your prospects really just aren’t that into you. They don’t want you calling or emailing them. When they’re ready to talk to you, they will reach out.• The World of Your Prospects
Take a step back and put yourself in your prospects’ shoes. Think about what’s going on in their world. Think about some of the macro trends in business:

    1. Despite record earnings, businesses aren’t necessarily growing (minus a few Silicon Valley outliers). Businesses are focused on cutting costs and saving their way to these strong earnings.
    2. Competition in every industry is fiercer than ever.
    3. Managers are constantly being asked to do more with less.

These three trends create a tough environment for your prospects. Chances are you sell products or services that can probably help them in many ways.

Here’s the sad irony of the world we live in:

Your prospects need you more than ever. Yet, they are more likely to ignore you than ever before.

So, where do we go from here? We must evolve.

Here is the first of six ways sales organizations should think about evolving to survive and thrive in the changing business landscape.

1. Evolve the Way You Think About Your Prospects
Research shows that your prospects are about 70 percent of the way through the purchase process before they engage a sales rep. So, the question you have to ask yourself is “what are they doing for 70 percent of the time?” According to a study by Google and Complete, the vast majority are doing online research. That means your new frontline reps are actually Google and your website. By the time your prospects pick up the phone, they are already well informed about your products and your competitor’s products. Many times, a prospect will call our reps and say, “I’m on your website right now and looking at your different pricing plans”.As a sales rep, it’s critical that you’re very familiar with all the content on your website and the website’s of your competitors. When you talk to prospects, you don’t have to spend a lot of time educating them on who you are. They already know. You should focus on what makes you different, better and worth it.

Having prospects engaged with your website is actually a very good thing. At PGi, we use marketing automation tools that track what customers are doing when on our site. We can see how many times they visited, how many pages they viewed and what content they downloaded.

As a sales rep, this gives you a real advantage. If you know your prospect spent a lot of time viewing your pricing page, you can assume he’s probably looking at your competition’s pricing as well. This information will help you build a stronger case on why your pricing is better than the rest.

Prospects today are more educated and savvy than ever before. As sales professionals, we have to up our game and be ready to have better conversations that will lead to a sale.

Check back next week to find out why sales organizations should strive to become more collaborative with other departments.

For more information on how sales is changing, download our free eBook: The Evolution of Sales: The Survival Guide.

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About Andrea Duke

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