Building human to human relationships is more important now than ever because buyers control their own buyer journey.
In decades past, buyers were reliant on sales reps to provide information. There was no other way to get new information. Sellers controlled access to information and buyers had to contact them to learn about a product. Those days ended with the advancement of the Internet, Search and Social Media.
Buyer’s control WHAT they allow to influence them. Buyer’s determine WHO can speak into their research and WHEN they are going to invite a sales rep to share insights and information. They know WHY they invite certain people to help them and HOW they want to be approached. They HAVE the control.
When sales reps and organizations acknowledge that buyers’ truly have power in their decision making process, the organization adjusts HOW they approach the sales process. Why? Because in order to be invited into conversations with potential customers they must adjust to the new buyer process.
What do sellers want?
Sellers want to influence buyers and their decisions. They want to be invited early into the research conversation by their best prospects, and they want to be known by their community of prospects as a smart, insightful and a trusted advisor.
Ideally, they would like to be the go-to person buyer’s seek out for help in making their decision, helping them to gain referral customers from their community because they are known as an expert and as someone who cares to help people solve their problems and achieve their goals.
The buyer’s circle of trust!
IF we can agree that buyer’s do control their journey, then buyer perceptions about companies, brands and sales reps are important to success.
Since buyer’s own their circle of trust, they hold the power to invite in those they want to allow a position of influence. They also control who is kept out of their circle. How do they control this?
We all control who we allow positions of influence in our lives. We control it by reading what we want to read. Watching videos that we want to watch. Following people and companies on social media and controlling settings on our own social media newsfeed.
Here is an example, I have an acquaintance who I am connected to on LinkedIn. This person’s message doesn’t particularly resonate with me for my current season of life, and the messages they share are not necessarily relevant for what I am working on at the moment.
Because the messages don’t pertain to me directly, I get tired of seeing them. To this person’s credit, the messages were consistent and frequent but because they did not pertain to me and I’d rather see consistent messaging on things that can help me at the moment I took control and removed it from my newsfeed. So in this instance, it was the wrong message at the wrong time and I chose to remove that message from my circle of influence.
Potential buyers are likely to exhibit similar behavior in their own newsfeeds, and so, knowing this about consumer behavior, we must consider these questions:
- Do your best customers seek out your content and social posts because they find them valuable, entertaining, insightful or add value to them?
- Do they unfollow you yet stay connected to you?
- Do they even remember that you are connected because you have not posted anything since 2009?
Just to reiterate, buyers now control what they see on a newsfeed and whom they allow to influence them.
Tips to join and stay in the circle of trust
- Find out what they read and who wrote it
- Find out what videos they watch and who created them
- Find out who they will be connected to on social platforms
- Find out who they will Follow on social platforms
- Find out who they will UNFollow on social platforms
- Find out which in-person events they attend
- Find out which email they will read
- Find out to which voicemails they will respond
Why waiting for them to find you is joining the conversation too late…
If a company is relying on Search to get in front of buyers, they are entering the conversation late. If sellers are solely relying on their outbound efforts, they are missing the opportunity to be invited by the buyer at the beginning of their journey. CSO Insights 2018, data found that buyers do 70% of their research before they ever reach out to sales reps.
What if your company’s marketing materials and website alone isn’t clear enough to a particular buyer? What if the buyer has a relationship with someone from one of your competitors? What if your buyer posts a question on LinkedIn about your industry and someone recommends your biggest competitor and not your company?
There are many scenarios where you are left out of conversations with the buyer. In any of them, you didn’t even have a chance to present your offering or answer questions. That is not a great scenario for ongoing success.
Sellers who are seen as influencers and as thought leaders, tend to stay top of mind with buyers. They get invited into the buyer circle of trust and invited into conversations to help determine solutions. My friend Michael Labate shares about research with digital sales at SAP. Their 5-year research they shared at the 2018 Sales Enablement Society conference found that sales reps who utilized digital sales activities are 90% more likely to meet or exceed their quotas.
More impressive to me is that they also found that sales reps using digital sales activities, like I am discussing here, had 300% larger average deal sizes than sales reps who did not utilize digital activities. I was fascinated by this stat and asked Michael why this happened. He said, “thought leaders and experts are asked their opinion for solutions to buyer’s problems. Sales reps as asked what the company offers and then buyer’s choose what they think they need or want based on budget.”
As a sales leader or a sales rep in your organization, how would you like buyers in your industry to see and think about you?
Additional Articles I suggest reading on the topic:
This article is about sales teams losing their SDR’s because of lack of success. When marketing helps sales be successful, not have the 2 departments in their own silos, sales reps when more and stay at companies longer.
When marketing and sales are in sync, sales reps are more successful and don’t leave companies.
You can also hear more on this topic directly from Michael Labate on our podcast here:
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I would love to hear your thoughts and insights on this topic. Also, please connect with me on social media. My links are below, please feel free to let me know you read this article and your thoughts on the subject. I would appreciate it.