Written By: Melyssa Moniz
Today the three roles in sales include:
The first role, order taker, is exactly what it sounds like: someone in this role simply takes orders and fulfills customer requests. Order takes will continue to be replaced by the convenience of automation from Amazon and related vendors. If it’s easier and it’s faster to buy from Amazon, the customer will make the purchase with a swipe and a click instead of placing a phone call.
The second role, salesperson, is someone who believes their job is to sell what their company offers to anyone who will buy it. And finally, we have the subject matter expert (SME). The SME offers enough expertise that the customer would be willing to pay for a meeting with them. Given a choice between the salesperson and the SME, clients prefer to meet with the subject matter expert. If your competitors provide SMEs as the client interface and you still just have salespeople, you might be missing out.
Subject Matter Experts Become The New Rainmakers
Historically, salespeople took the lead and were supported by SMEs. As you begin to evolve your sales roles, you should understand that SMEs bring high credibility and high integrity, but often lack proficiency in follow-through and managing the sales process. This is where you must pivot: support your subject matter experts with a team who can manage the sales process. Implement systems to guide SMEs through the sales steps.
Going hand in hand with the subject matter expert trend is knowing and utilizing the buyer’s buying process. The buying cycle for the client may greatly differ from the linear process envisioned by the seller. If you are not completely aware of the steps your clients take, you’ll be metaphorically playing the game in a different stadium.
To compare, here’s how it works on the sales side: first there is the inquiry/initial contact, then a meeting occurs. During the meeting, the sales side determines if there is a good fit. If there is a good fit, a proposal is given to the potential client. From there, a negotiation may occur before an agreement is made and the work is begun.
The Sales Process Has Changed For Buyers
For your customer, the sales process works differently; in between every step and interaction with your sales team, they are performing their own research. Whereas salespeople might map out a linear process with Stage 1 through Stage N, the buyer might see the process as more of a matrix.
They may have a meeting with you in person, but they may have been searching and gathering information about you for weeks or months before they reached out to you and met with you. After you meet, they may do additional searches and have questions about what the risks are if they implement what you offer, or they may research what the risks of purchasing from you are, and what kind of customer service you provide.
Recognize that if you are not addressing the concerns your clients might have, and if you are not answering the questions they have during the buyer-seller process, then someone else is! It’s probably your competitor, or at best, it’s someone you don’t know who is influencing their decision-making process.
Before you run out to create content for your potential clients to research, understand that your content is useless if it lacks honesty and transparency. You should always be looking out for their best interests, whether or not that means making a sale.
Leading Sales Trends Expected to Drive Success in 2017 / Impact On Your Bottom Line
In a recent podcast episode (tune in via Soundcloud or iTunes), I talk about the different roles in sales today and which role you should be focused on, how the sales process has changed for the buyer and how you can be a key component in that process. I also address how you can use crowdfunding to validate your product ideas. I also address why monthly or annually recurring revenue drives greater value than project-based billing. Some trends are in their infancy, and others have become part of the mainstream. These patterns emerge regardless of company size.
How do you see your sales team and processes evolving in 2017?