Today's blog post is by Jonathan London, author of Using Technology to Sell: Tactics to Ratchet Up Results and the founder of Improved Performance Group (IPG).
The Internet; computing power; faster and more available bandwidth; mobile devices and their apps; higher-resolution screens and cameras; more sophisticated hardware, software, and imagery; voice recognition; GPS; and more all provide greater capability than ever before to help people sell and prospects to make decisions.
Technology advancements also allow companies to expand their markets or sell in numerous ways that they had never been able to before. And keeping up with technology and knowing which to use where, how, and when is a challenge for businesses of all types in all industries.
Because information and analytical tools are so widely available, more logical and informed purchasing decisions can be made. More prospects than ever before are using data, metrics, and measurements as part of the decision-making process.
A recent study by Forrester Research established that people who are making business decisions rely on their own research and input from people they know rather than from vendors. This is having a dramatic impact on people’s buying behavior, since they are much better informed; therefore, the best salesperson needs to emphasize different insight, such as deep knowledge of a client’s industry and the most productive applications of his or her solution, rather than just spew generic benefits or regurgitate reams of data. The terms “subject matter expert” and “trusted advisor” reflect an ability to share such insight.
Because prospects are better informed, they have a better filter to decide if what you are saying is valid, valuable, and true. People no longer have to rely on brochures or proposals.
Perhaps the best example of this phenomenon is buying a car today. You can go online and find out exactly how much a dealer has paid for the car you want to buy and what incentives the manufacturer is providing. You can therefore go into a car dealership knowing the exact costs to the dealer. That puts buyers in a much better position to negotiate and choose from whom they want to buy. (One adaptation: many dealers now sell more used cars because this information is not as available, and they can charge more for them.)
What does all this mean for you, the salesperson? Two things to consider:
- You need to be ahead of the curve in using technology to your advantage.
- You need to understand people, i.e., your target demographic and how they buy using the Web, which methods they prefer (visual, text, PDF, graphics), what they need to know (the content itself), and when in the sales process they want information to make a decision in your favor.
The ubiquity of technology and information is a double-edged sword. On one hand, the sheer volume of information can make selling more difficult. It can become unwieldy, confusing, and overwhelming to you and your prospects, thus hurting your sales efforts. If you know how to control and use it, however, know which bits of information are important and which are a distraction, you are in an enviable position to sell more. How you best engage with technology and information and use it to your advantage to get the optimal return is addressed thoroughly in my book. As you’ll learn, salespeople need to become master craftsmen, better able than their competitors to use the tools they have. This has always been true but is more so now than ever.
Used properly, technology allows you to expand your skills and markets, get greater exposure, and create more sales opportunities.