There is a huge shift occurring in the world of buying and selling. Customers and prospects have been practicing ‘connected buying’ for years, but too many salespeople, at too many companies, are failing to use the same strategies and resources that buyers have become experts in. But how can getting connected change the way you sell and what does ‘connected selling’ even look like?
Today everything is connected. There are 4,5 billion social connections alone on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. By 2017 there will be 5 billion smart phones and 50 billion connected products. This is what we call the Internet of customers, which was made possible by the cloud.
What this means for sales is that customers have changed. They don’t want to be cold called, they do research before they contact vendors and they are having conversations that don’t include sales people. The brute-force approach to selling – battering away at the customer’s defences until they crumble – may have worked in the past, but it doesn’t work anymore.
In South Africa there are too many companies that are stuck in the past or aptly ‘disconnected’: These people struggle to fill their pipelines and don’t have effective lead management, the lead quality is poor and it lacks insight from social media. According to Salesforce.com, 79% of marketing leads are not pursued and sales people waste a significant amount of time and effort on fruitless searches. An estimated 68% of sales reps spend time on everything but selling. Most often, 30% of their time is searching for the data they need and never find.
At the end of the day, these sales people do not know to whom they are selling or who the key decision makers are. Often prospects know more about the sales person than they know about their products. This leads to 60% of deals forecasted incorrectly and the use of the wrong systems. On premises solutions are often slow and costly and more often than not, there is more than one customer database, which can only lead to trouble.
For these disconnected, it is time to get connected. Connected selling is informed selling. The combination of the Internet, social media, mobile CRM, analytics and collaboration leads to invaluable insight. It helps sales people to identify new opportunities, engage earlier, share relevant content, use everything they know to collaborate and close the deal.
It is an evolutionary leap. It is called connected selling.
* Quinton Pienaar, CEO of Agilitude, a Salesforce.com reseller.
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