Braveheart Sales Digest
Focus On: How Old-School Salespeople Can Stay Relevant
Headlines periodically appear to predict total doom and gloom for old-school salespeople. Earlier this year, Hubspot’s Emma Snider blogged about Forrester’s prediction that a full million “traditional” sales jobs will be lost before 2020 (Forrester also predicted growth for sales consultants). But Snider more recently reassured us sales folk that we are still relevant after all, based on new Gartner research published in the Harvard Business Review.
In fact, Gartner’s research indicates salespeople are “more important than ever,” ranking them the single most influential factor for B2B sales (above references, events, white papers, sales presentations, work-related communities, provider websites, marketing literature, press publications, advertising or social media). There is every indication that the future of sales belongs to those who can bridge the best of old-school sales methods with future technology and consultative selling to best meet customers’ needs.
This is a curated list of blog posts about salespeople who have been in the sales game long enough to earn their stripes many times over. They may be called “veterans,” “old-school,” “traditional,” “experienced,” “senior,” or “seasoned.” Read what people are saying about their perceived strengths and weaknesses and how they can stay relevant in a rapidly-evolving sales environment.
From the Women Sales Pros Network:
The Gist: Seasoned salespeople may get to a point where they think they know everything and be resistant to tuning in to yet another sales expert. But sales processes have changed dramatically- salespeople must constantly pivot to sell accordingly. Mars posits three questions for seasoned salespeople to get honest about where they are at, and rightly concludes the learning process never ends. Especially for salespeople who want to stay competitive. Read it here.
The Gist: Konrath has written a book on the art of Agile Sellingwhich is about staying relevant and mastering the constantly-changing sales environment. In this post, she identifies common challenges for the modern salesperson (watch the video clip or read the summary). Konrath cites information overload, sales and marketing alignment, social selling and the commodification of salespeople among other challenges to modern sales. Read it here.
The Gist: Social selling is often assumed to be the domain of younger generations, but ability to master social media and be tech-savvy has nothing to do with age. Giamanco unpacks the baggage behind these assumptions, namely ageism and the idea that those with tech-savviness in a personal context have the edge on tech-savviness in a business context (vs. those who have business savviness in a less-tech context). When in fact, the “business experience matters more.” Anyone can learn tech and social media if they want to; age doesn’t determine success with social selling. That being said, there is a resistance among seasoned salespeople to using social media for selling ─and change in general─ because what they’ve been doing has worked for them. The problem with that, Giamanco notes, “is that old school sales approaches are colliding with the expectations of today’s buyers in every industry and market you can imagine.” Read the whole post here.
Another of my Women Sales Pros colleagues, Linda Richardson, wrote a book, “Changing the Sales Conversation,” which she describes as an extension of consultative selling, a movement she has been credited with. She was interviewed by Sales & Marketing Management, where she gives some of her insights on the ways salespeople need to change in the new landscape.
From Around the Web:
Gartner’s research (in the Harvard Business Review) also reinforced the growing role of marketing activities in the sales process, putting greater pressure on organizations to improve the marketing and sales relationship. It’s interesting to note that many of the people writing about the future of sales and how to stay relevant are coming from the world of online marketing (based just on my research for this post). Is it that those authors are savvier with creating Google-friendly posts that have higher visibility? Or are online marketers uniquely positioned to offer insights about how salespeople can close the gap by applying their traditional sales expertise to the digitally-influenced sales process of the future? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.
Title: 5 Ways to Stay Relevant in Sales
Author: Anna Adamczyk (Learning & Technology Coordinator, DM Training)
Source: Digital Media DM Training Blog
Published: May 19, 2015
Time to Digest: 1-3 minutes
The Gist: Adamczyk comes from a marketing background and brings that perspective to the five tips she lays out for salespeople to keep up with changes to the selling process: be open, appreciate the power of social selling, understand that copy matters, make connections and track data. Read the whole post here.
Title: How Traditional Salespeople Can Stay Relevant in the Age of Automation
Author: Clara Shih (CEO, Hearsay Social)
Source: Fast Company
Published: July 22, 2015
Time to Digest: 2-5 minutes
The Gist: Shih comes from a social media-meets-business background. Her four tips for salespeople to survive the digital era are: shift your mindset; provide multiple touch points across social, mobile and web; use technology to free up time so you can focus on what you do best; and, use your uniqueness to your advantage.Read the whole post here.
Title: Ways to Stay Valuable to Highly-Informed Customers
Author: The Canadian Professional Sales Association
Source: The Canadian Professional Sales Association
Published: Undated, 2013
Time to Digest: 3-5 minutes
The Gist: This post focuses on how salespeople can respond appropriately to today’s prospect who is already well-educated on the industry and available solutions by the time they contact you. They emphasize that your expertise is still needed, but more in the context of curator, consultant and facilitator. Salespeople have the opportunity to differentiate themselves as a trusted resource with insider information. Their tips include: collaborate with your prospect; use your information within the sales process; customize your solution pitch based on the customer’s needs; create E-Learning systems; and tackle FAQs in a weekly podcast or webinar. Read the whole post here.
Title: The Future-Proof Salesperson
Author: Peter Spande (CRO, Business Insider)
Published: April 24, 2015
Time to Digest: 3-5 minutes
The Gist: This post is written for the sell-side of the digital media community, which is somewhat ironic given that it is technology and digital evolution that is transforming sales, and the audience is salespeople in the digital / tech industry. Spande provides a checklist of qualities that he looks for in a future-proof salesperson, including: curiosity, analytical, good or great writer, ensemble player vs. soloist, adaptability and consummate integrator. (Incidentally, if you are not a good or great writer, an easy way to remedy that in your emails and social media posts is this handy plugin from Grammarly). Read the whole post here.
Good for the Seasoned Sales Pro’s Ego:
Here are some posts that honor the best of veteran sales methods.
Title: There’s No Substitute for Old-Fashioned Selling
Author: Michael Mink
Source: Investor’s Business Daily
Published: August 25, 2014
Time to Digest: 2-5 minutes
The Gist: In his post, Mink draws on sales wisdom from Frank Cespedes and Jeff Bloomfield. He summarizes their tips on best practices for old-fashioned selling as follows: earn trust, provide solutions, use stories, be deliberate, dig deep, customize, teach and get out. Read the whole post here.
Title: Old-School Sales Techniques Matter More Than Ever
Author: Robbie Burton (VP of Sales, Thought Catalog)
Published: February 9, 2015
Time to Digest: 3-5 minutes
The Gist: In this post, Burton is writing about the digital media industry, and argues that old-school sales still drive its energy and soul. Even while acknowledging that “the world of old school sales in shrinking,” he ponders where it fits in a digital world. He goes on to offer some actionable techniques that can help make old school sellers more effective in a digital environment, including: respond quickly, don’t be needy, be proactive, stay in touch, and share of yourself. Burton shares a sales saying that “most people buy with their heart and justify with their head.” In his view it’s the methods of the old-school salesperson that warm the heart and get the head to follow. Read the whole post here.
To wrap it up on a positive note, here’s another feel-good list celebrating the best of old school sales qualities from Anthony Iannarino: Are You Old School Enough?
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