Today’s post is by Amy Franko, founder and president of Impact Instruction Group. Her first book, The Modern Seller, is due out in late 2017. Learn more and get free strategic selling resources at impactinstruction.com.
In today’s world of complex business opportunities, the days of the feature-benefit seller are over. What we need are modern sellers.
What are the some of the signs you’re a modern seller?
- You’re recognized as a differentiator in your customer’s business.
- The value of the solutions you sell isn’t fully realized without you.
- Your customers see the work you do together as strategic to their competitive advantage.
In the past several years, I’ve seen an industry in transition to this modern selling approach. It requires a shift in skills and mindset for sellers and their leaders. With that transition come some myths that need to be put to rest.
Let’s take a look at four of them.
Myth #1: The best sales pros solve defined problems.
Reality: Solving a defined problem is a transactional approach and makes you just like everyone else. In contrast, modern sellers find unidentified problems clients may not even know they are experiencing.
This type of selling requires you to listen intently and anticipate challenges several steps ahead. It also requires you to make connections in unique ways – by combining existing, new, and sometimes disparate ideas into viable solutions. In shedding light on an unidentified problem, your client is more likely to see you as the strategic partner to help them solve it. And that’s an important differentiator when buying decisions are made.
Myth #2: You have the same competitors as last year.
Reality: In sales, of course you need to know your current competitors. However, chances are that the biggest hurdle you’ll face is overcoming the status quo within the client organization. We see it when clients are inclined to resist change – to do things the way they’ve always done it. Those organizations will at best remain stagnant, or may even become extinct. Modern sellers facilitate forward momentum in organizations that are stuck – and don’t let their customers fall victim to the status quo.
Modern sellers also keep their eyes wide open across industries. There’s no longer an easily defined set of competitors. Fierce competition may come from organizations not previously on your radar, or even in your industry. Thanks to technology, barriers to entry are lower today. That opens doors to competitors you might not have realized were there, or competitors that didn’t exist before. Take a broader view of the landscape to uncover possible new competitors – and ways to outshine them.
Myth #3: More is better.
Reality: We’re on information overload. According to a 2015 report, the average American makes or answers six phone calls per day, sends and receives 32 texts, and spends 14 minutes on chat/VoIP. The result is a phenomenon called inattentional blindness – when it becomes impossible for someone to attend to all the stimuli in a situation. As a result, they may not see the opportunities right in front of them.
Modern sellers take the complex and make it simple. They don’t overwhelm their customers with extraneous information or lengthy presentations. They cut through the noise and communicate in a streamlined way, leading customers to simple and elegant solutions.
Myth #4: Savvy customers and prospects require less support.
Reality: Customers are savvier and armed with more research than ever before. It may be third-party research or internal business unit collaboration, and chances are good they’re doing it without you in the early stages. There’s a growing body of data on the buyer’s journey and just how much they’re doing on their own before connecting with a solution provider.
But all of this doesn’t mean they need less support. They need different support. The table stakes have changed, and modern sellers show up differently. Their role is elevated because every interaction now takes on greater importance. There are shorter windows of time to impact the situation and, as such, we may need to re-educate our customers or inspire them to see their challenges and opportunities in a new light.
The challenge is to take stock of our approach. Are we stuck in the myths? Or have we evolved into modern sellers and leaders? The modern selling approach will deliver better results to our organizations and our customers.