Let’s call it “Subtle Selling”
New rules. New methods. New skills. Today’s sales rep is more like yesterday’s sales clerk. If you don’t see the changes happening, you may be wondering how a new, young competitor took away your old established clientele. The only thing he had over you, was a better knowledge of how to use the internet.
The New Media has put the customer in control. She is less dependent on a sales rep or sales clerk to show and educate her about the product or service offering she is looking for. Today, she has the power to search and learn more about the specific product she wants than the sales clerk processing the order.
She can surf the web at her own leisure, while re-searching all of the available vendors (assuming they have a web-presence), and narrow her choice down to the exact product she wants. If it is a product that has a straight-forward and simple delivery process, she can even order it with a “mouse-click” without any need for intervention of a sales clerk.
But, if it is a service or more complex product that still needs some human intervention prior to the purchase decision, the customer’s research will lead her to the a pre-close conversation with you, the sales rep. The “subtle selling” approach demands that you allow her to stay in control of the buying process and for you to resist attempting the old-fashioned “hard-sell” techniques. That will just turn-off today’s customer, because she knows there are more vendors available and it’s real easy for her to move-on to someone else.
Of course, if you have no web-presence, and you were not able to be found when she was searching key-word-phrases for your product or service, she would never have even contacted you in the first place. You must learn how to use the world wide web to get found with an appropriate presence.
It may help to compare the old sales process to a new one
Sales Reps used to managed the process. Find the customer, present the product, and close the deal. The customer knowledge was usually limited to what the sales reps shared with them.
Whereas today, the customer is in control. They find what they want, research their possible choices, evaluate the vendors, and either close the sale themselves or request some help on the more complex purchases. In many cases today, the first contact with a sales rep results in talking the customer out of purchasing with him, thus driving the customer to another vendor simply because of the sales reps incompetence.
In the past (pre-internet era), the customer was dependent upon 2 or 3 sales reps to educate him on the benefits of their solution to his problem. Today, the customer usually knows more about the product the sales rep is selling than the sales rep does. Today’s sales rep has become more like yesterday’s sales clerk who waited in the store for the customer to enter. The sales clerk function was not so much to educate the customer, but more to guide the customer toward the best available item that is readily available for the customer to purchase now.
Here are 7 Steps of the old sales process compared to 7 steps of the new sales process
You can use either as your sales strategy, but sell appropriately with a sensible marketing strategy.
- Sales Rep Gets Leads vs. Customers perform online search for wants and needs.
- Sales Rep Qualifies Leads vs. Customers research their favorite choices from what they found in initial search.
- Sales Rep Makes Appointments vs. Customers follow and watch their favorite vendors visibly or silently.
- Sales Rep Presents Product/Service vs. Customers decide what they want before first contact (maybe even trial or test an offering).
- Sales Rep Questions and Handles Objections vs. Customer invites vendor to take their order.
- Sales Rep Closes the Sale vs. Customer becomes a fan through a satisfactory experience.
- Sales Rep Moves on to next Lead vs. Customer posts public review of his/her experience with the vendor, good or bad.
With a better understanding of the new sales process, the sales rep of today might be better served to re-allocate his/her time expenditure towards more marketing in the New Media and less pushy selling activity in Social Media.