The Era Of The ‘Killer Salesman’ Is Dead; Long Live The Inbound Sales Guide
Is this a familiar situation?
You’re at a car dealership, starting your search for what represents a major investment for you and your family. You’ve done a bit of research online, but you want to see the vehicle you’re considering in person.
A salesman approaches. You politely explain that you’re just looking and not ready to buy. You just have a few questions.
He’s happy to help. He invites you back into the sales office to get you some information. Before you know it, you’re being bombarded with increasingly aggressive pleas to buy the car now — right now. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal. You’ll regret it if you walk away now. He’ll even throw in floor mats.
That salesman is looking at you like prey. He’s targeted you and is just itching to kill. He’s triggering your fight (buy) or flight instincts. If you’re like most buyers in 2016, you choose flight. You’re turned off by the whole experience. You may still buy the car you were looking at, but not from that salesman or that dealership.
Are salespeople at your company still aggressively trying to close every lead and prospect they encounter right away? Is this leading to diminishing results?
Instead of “killer salespeople” relying on outdated tactics, you need inbound sales guides, focused on patiently guiding qualified prospects through the buyer’s journey at the buyer’s preferred pace.
But what virtues do highly effective sales guides have that “killer salespeople” don’t?
The 6 Virtues Of Highly Effective Inbound Sales Guides
Effective inbound sales guides have several common traits:
Patience is one of the most important virtues for your inbound sales guides to have. Not all of your prospects are ready to buy right away. They might be at the very beginning of their buyer’s journey. Their pains may not be acute yet. They might have to do extensive research and get approval before making any purchases. Your inbound sales guides need to patiently wait until prospects are further into the buyer’s journey, but remain available and ready to answer any questions they have along the way.
2. A Willingness To Walk Away
Some prospects will never close. It takes a tough-minded inbound sales guide to realize this. Your guides need to conduct research into each prospect to determine their real pains and needs. For instance, if the prospect is looking for the lowest price available and your services, while among the highest quality in your industry, are not the most affordable, that prospect is never going to buy from you. When your salespeople are willing to walk away from unqualified leads, they have more time to cultivate more qualified prospects.
3. A Passion For Knowledge
Your sales guides need to think of themselves as educators. As such, they need to know everything about your business and your products, as well as your competitors and their offerings. They must thoroughly research your prospects, their industries and their pains. That way, your guide is able to confidently answer any questions and ease any pains your prospects may have with their buyer’s journey. Additionally, truly remarkable sales guides don’t just educate themselves and their customers – they share their knowledge with your whole team to help your organization succeed.
4. Active Listening
Unfortunately, most people don’t really listen when other people talk. Instead, they half-listen and wait for their turn to speak. For old-school salespeople who haven’t adapted to inbound sales techniques, this problem is particularly severe. These “killer salespeople” are just waiting for your prospects to stop talking so they can blurt out the next part of their sales pitch. They’re not listening to your prospects or hearing their unique pains. Your prospects, meanwhile, are just desperate to be heard. Active listening is a rare skill. It requires that your inbound sales guides stop thinking about how they’re going to respond to the prospect and really listen to each word that prospect says. Only after absorbing every word and taking a moment to reflect on its meaning should your sales guide reply with a statement that directly responds to what the prospect said. When this happens, your prospects know that your company and your sales guides really understand their pains, and your sales guides are able to better serve the prospect.
5. Social Media Mastery
Inbound sales guides must have a passion for social media. They should spend time combing through LinkedIn or Twitter looking for potential prospects that need your company’s services. For instance, if your company is actively engaged in leveraging content marketing in your inbound efforts, you likely have tip sheets or whitepapers that help educate your prospects. Your inbound sales guides should search through these platforms and join groups to find people whose pains your content helps solve, and then offer it to them. This helps fill the top of your sales funnel and develops relationships that could pay off down the line. Additionally, when your sales guides build relationships through social media channels that do lead to prospects becoming happy customers, your guides are able to leverage those customers for testimonials that attract more prospects through social channels.
6. There’s No ‘I’ In ‘Team’ (Or ‘Process’)
Inbound marketing and sales tactics work best when your whole team works together and adheres to written processes. Your inbound sales guides must reject the outdated notion of the lone wolf sales hero who bucks process and follows his own rules to try and close deals. Going off script is more likely to alienate a carefully cultivated lead that would’ve eventually closed if your sales guide had just been more patient. The best performing inbound sales guides know that teamwork and careful strategy work more effectively and more consistently than any improvised, one-off tactics they come up with on the fly.
How To Find The Perfect Inbound Sales Guide
So where do you find these patient, active listening, intellectually curious, team-oriented, social and tough-minded inbound sales guides? Well, that depends. You may be able to train your current salespeople in inbound sales tactics. If not, you may have other employees in your company who fit the profile. Remember, inbound sales guides don’t need training in the traditional sales tactics that no longer work on modern buyers. Or, you may have to recruit from outside your company to find the perfect inbound sales guide with just the right personality.
Whatever you do, make sure your new sales team meets the criteria outlined above. You’re better off patiently waiting for the right fit than settling for someone who will revert to old-school tactics and damage everything you’ve worked to build with your inbound marketing and sales efforts.