Posted by Elena del Valle on April 11, 2014
Changing the Sales Conversation
Photos: Sharon Wolmuth
As the market has shifted with social media and technological advances so have consumers. Selling requires a new approach and an increased awareness of client needs and likes, according to some experts. In Changing the Sales Conversation: Connect, Collaborate, and Close (McGraw Hill, $22) Linda Richardson, founder, Richardson, a sales performance company, discusses the issues she considers relevant to the changing sales environment for a target audience of salespeople and sales managers primarily in business to business sales.
" I introduced Consultative Selling several decades ago and while the tenants of Consultative Selling remain relevant, buyers' buying habits have dramatically changed and I wrote Changing the Sales Conversation to extend the concepts of Consultative Selling to foster a new dynamic dialogue for the new sales landscape. The internet and emerging technologies have changed the face of selling so much so that many of the tried and true sales methodologies of just a short time ago are obsolete and some can actually hurt sales," she said by email in response to a question on why she wrote a book about sales.
The 162-page hardcover book was published this year. It is divided into: Introduction, Futuring: Meta-Preparation, Heat-Mapping: Anticipating Client Need, Value-Tracking: Shaping Solutions, Phasing: Controlling the Process, Linking: Connecting Emotionally, and Opening into the Future. The author explained she wrote it to provide insight into the changes and give models and tools to help salespeople and sales managers succeed in the new world of selling.
" The key to selling to customers today is to insure that they have a higher level of expertise and skill and having access to resources, research, and tools. Salespeople must have industry, company, and stakeholder knowledge and use tools and research to understand the individuals they are selling to including their cultures and values. I cover this in the chapter on Futuring which is a higher level of preparation. Sales organizations must support salespeople with knowledge sharing, training, and tools," Richardson said in reply to a question about dealing with diversity in an increasingly global marketplace when trying to build trust.
Linda Richardson, author, Changing the Sales Conversation
"One of the key challenges is to get ahead of the opportunity by brin(g)ing ideas to customers. It is important for salespeople to understand what their clients already know because clients are doing research, using social media, and turning to peers and can be half way through the buying cycle before talking to a salesperson. The real challenge I see is having the knowledge and insight to bring ideas to clients rather than get involved late in the sale when the client is advanced and be in heavy competition," she said in response to a question about the biggest challenge in getting to know a client in today's environment.
The consultant believes clients expect sales people to be prepared and informed. In the book, she explains that clients are able to tell quickly whether a salesperson is able to create value for them, and that by being informed about a client's industry, company and stakeholders a salesperson will be competitive. Using tools such as social media, paying attention to their client's trusted sources and listening to clients to learn about their needs and environment can be important in increasing productivity; and preparing in advance is necessary to succeed, she says.
Richardson teaches sales and management at the Wharton Graduate School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Wharton Executive Development Center. Her previous book, Perfect Selling, was a The New York Times bestseller.
Click to buy Changing the Sales Conversation