Congratulations! You’ve recently embarked on a career in sales, which can be an incredibly rewarding, interesting, and fulfilling path. However, you are joining the sales profession at a very interesting time and old approaches and techniques will not serve you as well as they did for salespeople in past years. Before we look at your first 90 days, let’s look at three major recent shifts in the sales landscape.
1) Information is no longer a unique asset for starting conversations. It used to be that sales people were the key source of much of the information buyers would need in understanding a space, evaluating competing offerings, and forming a decision. No longer. Almost all required information is available without talking to a salesperson, and thus the information itself is not something that will get you into a conversation. You will have to earn your right to the conversation in another way.
2) Contact data is not rare. It used to be that the names and contact information of key people was a difficult information asset to acquire. CRM systems were built around this premise and the value of storing litle more than the facts on who a person is and how to reach them. In today’s world, that is no longer the case. Contact data can be readily acquired, but will no longer get you into the conversation as calls are screened and emails ignored.
3) Business change is more complicated. The speed and complexity of today’s business world is mind-boggling. Decisions of any significance involve a breadth of considerations; financial, economic, regulatory, training, and many others. Navigating this change in an organization requires coordinating a disparate group of interested parties with needs that are each deeply complex in their own area of expertise.
I introduce this complexity not to dishearten you and have you reconsider the career path you have recently embarked on, but to show you how this changing landscape creates an opportunity to become a highly succestsful salesperson. To do so, however, you will need to develop a mindset that sees each person you interact with as an ally on a long journey towards mutual success. The paradox of modern selling is that most of your current interactions will not lead to near-term revenue, and most of your near-term revenue will not come from interactions that started recently.
To truly build the trust it takes to convince a buyer to enact significant change, you need to build a relationship over a long period of time. This means you need to start long before a deal is in sight. This means that a successful mindset is one that discards any thoughts of how any particular person can help you, and instead thinks about how you can help them.
In the first 90 days of your career, you should put the groundwork in place to build these long-term relationships. The effort will not be trivial, but the payoff will be huge. Here are 5 key points you will need in your approach:
1) Help first. With any interaction, and especially with any new interaction, think first about how you can help them. Are they looking to hire? Looking for a job? Need to talk with someone with who has a particular set of skills? Any opportunity you have to deepen a relationship by helping without looking to receive is a great opportunity to build trust and gain an ally.
2) Build depth over time. Relationships deepen over time as long as you stay in touch. Learn what people are interested in and what’s important to them, and make notes on it to give you a chance to restart the conversation later. You’ll be surprised how much you wish you had jotted down a few interesting notes when you’re trying to restart a conversation after 6 months has passed.
3) Build breadth in your network. Organizational change requires a wide variety of people to be engaged. You never know when that person who knows the tax code for charities, or how to organize a supply chain across the artic, or how to engage municipal governments on regulation changes will come in handy. Build strong relationships with anyone who seems bright and motivated.
4) Don’t lose touch after a job change. People change jobs frequently. You will, and your connections will. Don’t let that cause you to lose touch. Relationships that span multiple jobs are very often the strongest and most impactful of any relationships.
5) Get personal. The best relationships are ones where business is secondary. Be interested in who people are outside of work, and be an interesting person yourself. Get involved in organizations, charities, or sports, and don’t be afraid to show yourself as a more interesting person with more than one dimension. Any conversations that are not directly work related will give you a stronger reason to stay in touch.
You will notice that none of these tips will close deals for you in the current quarter. However, the relationships that you build by truly being interested in people and finding ways to help them will remain with you for decades. The success you will have as a salesperson who is able to leverage this breadth and depth of network will far surpass any results you would see by fine tuning your sales pitch for deals in the current quarter.
This blog originally appeared on www.avention.com/blog
Steve is an experienced SaaS CTO. Guided the building of Eloqua to a market leading position in Marketing Automation and Demand Generation. Passionate about innovation, SaaS and cloud computing software evolution, marketing automation, and analytics.
Author of the book “Digital Body Language” about deciphering customer intentions online. Frequent speaker at various forums involving B2B marketers. Now CTO and Co-founder of Nudge, an application focused on helping sales professionals leverage their network to engage the right business opportunities.