The selling process continues to evolve. Have ya noticed? Changes are happening more quickly than ever. Superfast.
So, if you’re involved in selling anything, anywhere, the message is clear: evolve or die. Selling once relied on a simple one-way announcement. Now it relies on a customer’s self-guided journey. And you’d better meet him along the way.
In the beginning, sales were dependent on simple advertising. Selling 1.0 was about communicating the offer. A storefront announcing “Refrigerators Sold Here” could attract buyers. One-way messaging worked from the beginning of human civilization until the advent of mass communication.
Next, merchants had to get cute. Celebrities, cartoons and comedy were the common thread of Selling 2.0. From the dawn of newsprint to radio to the golden age of TV, an audience often had to be attracted with entertainment, or an infectious jingle and THEN pitched.
Today, Selling 3.0 is waaaayyy more sophisticated and complex. Yes, the techniques of the early days still have a place, but by themselves, they are woefully inadequate. It’s a dialogue now and the buyer is in control, with access to more information than ever. Most of his research is done without the seller. It happens online, on-demand and on mobile platforms. He charts his own course. Merchants all know that by now. It’s commonly called “The Buyer’s Journey”. The research is everywhere. Here’s a helpful article from Forbes about the process. Most analysts believe that buyers move through four cycles: Observe. Orient. Decide. Act.
Complicating the process, almost all sellers look and sound the same: Quality. Integrity. And a low, low price! Blah-blah-blah. It’s boring and banal.
But – these trends don’t necessarily mean that the seller is silent, impotent or indistinguishable from competitors. She just has to be smarter.
The psychology and strategy of a successful sale is based around this user-driven, online journey. Your prospect wants to find you first, during his search. If you appear multiple times as a powerful, thoughtful and helpful ally, he will take the next step and likely contact your office. If you are absent in his journey, you will never get the call. Case closed.
Given that, here are the best 7 Steps for Selling 3.0:
1. Know the Pain Point of Your Ideal Client. What is his NUMBER ONE CONCERN regarding your Industry? What is it that none of your competitors want to address? Dive Deep. Big Data Helps. Do your research. Here’s a great primer from Pardot.
2. Develop a Powerful Solution that NO ONE ELSE IN YOUR INDUSTRY CAN CLAIM. The more your message sounds like your competitor down the street, the more invisible you become. Instead, create messaging around that STUPENDOUSLY UNIQUE service offering or product. If someone else can say it, don’t use it.
3. BE VISIBLE. Not Selling or Pitching, But Establishing Your Voice as a Helpful Authority within Your Industry. You must understand that the customer DOES NOT WANT TO BE SOLD, BUT WANTS to FIND YOU DURING HIS ONLINE JOURNEY. Are you visible? What is your Digital Footprint? How do you appear when he looks for a solution? Are you present in a relevant, organic way? If not, get a content marketing plan! Produce original content that can be posted in multiple places online, and pitched to earned (news) media outlets, and even placed in paid slots online. Do the research to find the best locations to reach that prospect on his journey!
4. Be Clear, Concise and Consistent with Content. Digital visibility is not a one-trick pony. Brands that win in this new buyer-centric arena are those that generate a substantial amount of online content. They make it easy for the buyer to OBSERVE the brand objectively and on multiple platforms, ORIENT themselves based on the information and assistance the brand provides, DECIDE to contact the brand, and then ACT. Are you that brand? Does your prospect find your brand in an organic search? Do the messages on your blog, on Reddit, on Facebook, Youtube and in the trade publications sound congruent? Is your brand’s voice clear, concise and consistent? If not, get that content marketing plan in place now, because you’re already behind your competition.
5. Understand That It’s a Dialogue Now. Listen. Ask Questions. Then RESPOND! Yes, it’s THAT important and you really do need to have a team of people (or at least ONE warm body) dedicated to monitoring your digital platforms. When someone – anyone – comments on something you have posted, RESPOND!
6. Package Your Solution to Make It Buy-able. What price points make sense? How should it be presented to the prospect? Try several options and use the most popular ones.
7. Ask for the Sale. Don’t forget to close the deal. You’d be surprised how many of us crater at closing time. Make the ask.
And there you have it – seven steps to Selling 3.0.