Selling Like a Leader: Welcome to New World Selling
Say hello to a new kind of selling--not well-suited for the technophobe
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Last week, I was chatting by phone with a friend of mine whohappens to be the CEO of a major player in the high-tech industry.We were talking about how, when and why he decides to get involvedin the sales process. An hour or so into our talk, almost as alark, I decided to ask him for his take on the current state of theeconomy and how the events of September 11 had affected his ownbusiness. His answer was concise, and it came quickly: "Ibelieve it's a new world," he said, "and it's anew world economy which is going to take new world marketing.That's our working assumption for growing and succeeding fromthis point forward."
Then I asked: "OK, but what exactly does that mean? What isthe new world sales model, as you see it?" The livelyconversation following that question brought us to three keyconclusions about what I have come to call "New WorldSelling." The conclusions are summarized briefly below.Warning: If you are uncomfortable with the notion that salespeopleat all levels must now, more than ever, use technology to initiate,maintain and grow business relationships, you are likely to bedisappointed with the following conclusions:
Conclusion No. 1: Technology can (and should) drive down thecost of the average sales call.
The cost of making a face-to-face sales call and presentationhas been on the rise for the past 10 years and is now sittingsomewhere around $800 per visit. That's if the contact works ata centrally organized business venture that you can drive to. Addin the inevitable complexities (multiple offices; far-flunglocations; and 101 technical questions requiring not only yourphysical presence, but also that of some expert or other resource),and the costs run even higher. The airline and hotel industries maynot want to hear it, but CEOs who sell (and the smart salespeoplewho model them) are going to be focusing more heavily on alreadyavailable technology to move the buying process along. Thesetechnologies can and will increase efficiency and consistency whileat the same time providing greater control of the cost-of-salesactivities.
The face-to-face appointment isn't dead, of course, butit's increasingly expensive--and, in today's wired economy,increasingly irrelevant. The tragic events of September 2001 seemto me to be likely to add momentum to this trend. (Remember allthose articles about businesspeople who found creative ways to workaround flights they couldn't take and meetings theycouldn't make?)
The technology I'm talking about is called"media-rich" e-presentations, and they're incrediblypowerful (they should be)! The communications experts say thatcombining voice, pictures and text increases retention to awhopping 50 percent, and that's exactly what these toolsdo.
Conclusion No. 2: Technology can (and should) help smartorganizations boost renewal rates and increase high-margin add-onsales from upselling.
Picture this: You're selling a product or service thatrequires renewal--a club membership, a maintenance contract, aninsurance policy, whatever. To close this "renewal" sale,you must win your prospect's "top-of-mind awareness."The question is, How do you do that?
Sure, you can send a letter with a SASE that will get you thetraditional 6 to 10 percent renewal rate. But nowadays, you haveanother choice. You can use technology to contact each renewalcustomer with an efficient, consistent and economical voice messagethat is sincere, well-focused and original--and drive your renewalrate up to 60 percent! Another one of my CEO friends has found away to use a combination of e-mail, e-voice mail and goodold-fashioned phone calls to pull people to a tailored, Web-basedvoice and visual slide presentation that viewers control. Theresult: a staggering contact-to-response ratio and a similarlyunreal renewal percentage!
You can use the same basic tactics to upsell to your base ofcurrent customers who are not faced with a "renewal"purchase. You've got the new product or add-on services thatyou know can add-value, but you don't have a way to show themthe value that serves the product justice. You don't want touse something as "common" and "typical" asmarketing or sales brochures. Besides, you'll have to wait toolong to get the piece developed. You can use today's New WorldSelling technology to develop, promote and deliver a top-notchpresentation that talks the talk and walks the walk at thecustomer's convenience. This is a great way to "wow"your customers and get the orders coming in.
Conclusion No. 3: Technology can (and should) give prospectsthe feeling of being a favored "insider" at yourcompany.
The new tech-driven sales model can shape your prospects'and customers' perceptions of your organization. It can deliverthe message that your company is accessible, progressive, aware andserious about moving forward on your goals--which means that youcan help them do something similar or even greater. Here's oneexample: Imagine that you want to approach a new prospect, but youdon't just want the person to agree to an in-person meeting.You would like this person to get the "look and feel" ofyour organization by actually seeing it first-hand, by actuallyhearing the CEO or some other top player deliver a shortpresentation of your company's vision on your behalf. I am notsuggesting a webcam propped in front of your CEO's desk andthen hoisted on the shoulder of some cinematographer as he does a"factory tour." Nor am I talking about sending anhour-long "Introduction to our company" video for yourprospect to avoid watching. I am talking about an existingtechnology that allows you to tailor a message to each and everyone of your prospects with your voice, your CEO's voice oranyone else's. The vocal track matches a set of presentationslides that include pictures and text.
The message my buddy and I ended up talking about for nearly anhour is delivered by e-mail without an attachment. That means thefear of catching a nasty virus or getting past corporate"firewalls" is gone forever.
The New World SellingRevolution in Sales Communications
To sell like a CEO, we have to be willing to shake up ourassumptions. We have to be willing to ask questions like this:"What can I do right now to create an authentic, morecompelling message?"
The New World Sales model I am talking about isn't justfocused on technology; it's focused on an attitude towardtechnology. An attitude that says, in essence: "It's a newworld--it's a new economy--and I am open to the possibility offinding new ways to sell."
Here's the point: With today's technology, you can make"sales calls" for about 10 percent of what it'scosting you now, save enormous amounts of time, and provide yourprospects with an easy way to watch your sales presentation in anaccessible "insider" format. They can do it when theywant to, as many times as they want to, and the result is that youwatch revenues go up. That's the lesson my CEO friend and Ihave taken from the first-hand experience of using thistechnology.
If that's not enough, how about knowing precisely when yourprospect and/or customer watched it, how long they watched it andwhere they stopped watching it? Still not enough? How about givingthem the opportunity to ask you a question? Finally, how would youlike to send a "Thanks for taking the time to watch the firsttwo minutes, but you missed the best part and here it is"message? And bingo, they're watching the rest of yourpresentation.
Anthony Parinello is the author of the bestselling book Selling to VITO, the Very Important TopOfficer. For additional information on his speeches, SalesSuccess Kits and newest book, CEOs who Sell, call (800) 777-VITO orvisit www.sellingtovito.com.