Trend #1: The buyer’s role continues to dominate how the sales process is evolving.
Everyone has information, both buyer and seller, and the buyers are using it. However, the data at our fingertips is often acquired without a credible source to filter fact from fiction. The Internet, media, and peer networks are information factories for buyers looking to make a purchase. They are not only more educated about their purchases (mostly a good thing), but they are also getting further along in the process WITHOUT professional sales assistance (NOT a good thing). The damaging results are less time to build relationships and more threats to a natural sales cycle.
Solution #1: Companies and sales professionals need to be more conscious than ever about the perception of their brand and the actual experiences of their customers.
Steve Jobs once commented on the brilliance of Nike’s advertising campaigns. To summarize, you rarely see Nike products in their advertisements. Instead, you often see great athletes excelling and doing great things. Now, consider your presentation and impression. How do people view you? What memories do they take from their experiences with you? When they seek information about you, what are they going to find?
Trend #2: Value trumps solution every time.
It’s not what you sell, it’s the impact to the company of what you sell that makes the investment justified. Value is based on one simple, but important question: Is it worth it? And, that value has to be measured, articulated, real, and believable or the sale won’t be made.
Solution #2: You’re not always in a head-to-head battle with a competitor to make a sale. Since you’re also fighting for capital, your solution needs to be targeted on a business problem that’s worth solving.
Consider this, a pharmaceutical sales rep was selling a product to a hospital that had a lot of potential to impact the ROI in the pharmacy. When the pharmacist went to committee, the hospital chose not to invest in the pharmacy. Instead, they bought a new MRI machine, because they felt it had a greater impact on the overall operation. In this case, head-to-head had nothing to do with it. Instead, there was a perception the salesperson couldn’t overcome, that of a greater value in a different area.
When you’re competing for capital—and let’s face it, we always are—without value, your sale is at risk. To preserve capital, buyers are looking for reasons to dismiss any solution to a problem that perhaps is not worth solving. To prepare for this, sales pros must connect to value or you will struggle in 2016 and beyond.
Trend #3: Decision-making is no longer controlled by an individual.
We used to target one person in working though the sales cycle; now decisions more likely come from a consensus by committee. No matter what’s being sold, there are more and more people involved in the buying decision process and each of them is critical to winning your sale. You may find yourself dealing with IT, Operations, Finance, and Purchasing to close a single deal! The really bad news? Any of them can stall or block your sale.
Solution #3: Identify, gain access, and maintain access to power.
Your ability to identify the key players, within an organization, is fundamental to your success in reaching executives with the power to make the purchase. More purchasing executives may also mean more gatekeepers, across diversified departments, to overcome and then partner with, to move the sale forward.
Designing an effective credibility introduction, one which focuses on the client, includes data, and communicates a history of winning partnerships, is essential to capturing and keeping multiple executives’ attention. Building sustainable relationships, based on brand perception and added value (please see Trends #1 and #2), will allow you to be more than just another salesperson, but also, and more importantly, a trusted resource and a part of the solution.
For you to stay ahead of the game in 2016, focus on defining and building trust in your brand. Emphasize value in your solution and be ready to demonstrate it across every competing phase in the organization. Be ready to identify the decision makers, and positively and proactively partner with all of the power.
Watch these 3 key trends, make your adjustments, and make 2016 your most successful year ever.