As consumers (both the B2C and B2B variety) become savvier and increasingly overwhelmed with sales and marketing messages, they’ve begun to tune out. With a multitude of contributing factors, there’s a distinct shift occurring — moving away from more traditional sales methodologies and towards a more consultative, educational approach to selling in the modern world.
Too many messages, not enough time
Today’s audiences and buyers are less likely to respond to traditional closing tactics than ever before. It’s hard to pinpoint the pivotal moment at which this shift really took place, but it was certainly influenced heavily by the growth of the World Wide Web as a predominant advertising medium.
Related: Stop, Look and Listen
Even without the Internet, television and radio broadcasting has become rife with advertisements, and billboards have grown exponentially both in number and technological advancement. Frankly, it’s information overload. No wonder people are beginning to take vacations from their tech by unplugging their devices for an hour, a day, or even an entire weekend just to get away from the constant connectivity.
Traditional sales tactics are outdated
Caller ID makes it possible to screen your calls. When you’re working furiously to meet a deadline, the last person you want to talk to is a sales rep who won’t take no for an answer. The B2C audience has the Do-Not-Call list because they’re tired of being inundated by cold call after cold call from telemarketers.
Pharmaceutical sales representatives face mounting challenges earning all-important face-time with health care providers. Everyone is short on time, and no one wants to spend valuable minutes listening to a sales pitch for a product they’re not even sure they need. Sales professionals have to work even harder to stand out from the crowd and capture the attention of their target prospects.
Buyers want to decide, rather than be sold to
The Internet has not only changed the way we do business, but it’s changed the way consumers discover and learn about new products, as well as the way they come to buying decisions. Today’s buyers feel more empowered to do their own research and make their own decisions, thanks in large part to the massive explosion of digital media.
Sales organizations that take a consultative approach provide their prospects with educational content that aids them in making buying decisions, earning trust and establishing authority which helps the company secure the sale. By following the buying journey and engaging key prospects with compelling information that meets a need, consultative sales professionals are a step ahead of the competition.
Delivering value: the core focus of the new sales landscape
The focus, as Anthony Iannarino, President and Chief Sales officer for SOLUTIONS Staffing, points out in a blog post, is on delivering value, earning you the right to a higher margin in exchange.
“If you are instead focused on client acquisition, you have the opportunity to dig deeper and find additional ways to create real value. A more strategic level of value,” Iannarino says.
Technology has shifted the game but also arms sales organizations with data
Interestingly, the same technology that has contributed to the shift from traditional to consultative selling is also equipping sales organizations with key insights and data that helps them identify the right prospects, understand the various stages in the customer’s journey, pinpoint critical touch points, and provide the most effective content to nurture prospects as they navigate the buying journey.
This data provides a substantial time-saving benefit, avoiding wasted time chasing uninterested prospects that are unlikely to ever become customers. But it also empowers sales organizations to serve more as a partner, and less like an opportunist, introducing new ideas and concepts to prospects and solving challenges.
Shifting the mindset of your sales team to reflect the consultative selling approach enables them to focus more on delivering value and less on merely acquiring a sale, ultimately producing better results. As Monika D’Agostino, Founder and Chief Consultative Sales Officer of Consultative Sales Academy, suggests in a blog post, “Somebody, somewhere can always do something similar cheaper. But think about yourself: Most people generally don’t buy features. They buy what they feel gives them the most value for a specific solution.”