The Sales Process Has Evolved, Can You Keep Up?

Sales as we know it is changing, the pitch is evolving, and consumers are gaining more access complete information. How will you handle it?

Jacob Dunlap
Photo: Jake Dunlap, CEO and founder of Skaled; Source: Courtesy Photo

These days, customers want to be informed and influenced through impartial input. This is why we’ve moved beyond the traditional sales model to find new clients.

People are profoundly more educated — more than they’ve ever been — when they engage in business conversations. However, a mere 27 percent of all inbound leads are actually qualified leads. This means that nearly three out of four leads are the wrong fit for a sales deal.

This happens because most of the people who take initial meetings are not final decision makers. Rather, they are purchase influencers.

Moreover, there’s often a gap in the information that purchase influencers need to escalate the sale. These influencers don’t have all the facts. They are simply trying to streamline the process for the decision maker.

In order for business owners to be the most knowledgeable source in the buyer’s journey, we need to know what our B2C and B2B prospects already know.

This includes pricing, what we sell, how they might use it, and competing services. We must also be aware of what they want to learn. This includes the macro level business value gained, how to properly use it, and who we are as a vendor.


Prove business value

Instead of talking about how your product will help a buyer’s business, identify industry trends and the business impact. Position yourself as a thought leader. Use relevant third party data to tie industry trends to your business solutions.


Choosing a brand name
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In his book, The Challenger Sale, Michael Dixon explains the secret to sales success. “The ability to deliver unique insight is arguably the most powerful weapon in the Challenger’s arsenal and the biggest driver of B2B customer loyalty.” It is also known as consultative sales, an old concept that is rarely practiced and often misunderstood.

Even before a prospect is presented with a product or service, they should first believe that the issues it solves are important on a macro level. This is a shift for many sales organizations who feel their jobs are to solely pitch a product, and then try to close.


Help customers plan for implementation

Most buyers don’t shop for products that are direct replacements of what they already have. This means the sales process will overlap with multiple departments and stakeholders.

This requires cross-functional selling skills as you work with people who have different functional expertise, yet they are all working toward a common goal.

Even if you move a deal to a certain point, if you fail to inform the final decision maker, you’ll fail to follow through.


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While it may be ideal to find a buyer champion, someone who can help you navigate internal structure and politics, it’s your job to tell a prospect who is typically involved by job type, at what stages, and at what level.

Talk about a rollout plan. Share which roles and team within the buyer’s organization should be looped in early in the sales process. Stalled deals are primarily caused by prospects that do not know who or what’s required to buy and fully implement a product or service.


Show buyers that you’re in their league

If you plan to sell to bigger companies, realize that they have very little interest in your VC roster or where you went to school. If you are selling to a tech company or someone who geeks out over startups, they may care.


Photo: © Monkey Business, YFS Magazine

However, as you scale, the companies you partner with are already used to dealing with big players. They want to know that you have been there and done that with similar clients.

When you talk about who you are, mention your role in their industry, how you’ve helped clients of their size, and how you align with their sphere of influence. You will see a large improvement in how they view and react to your sales conversation.

A buyer wants to see who you really are. But more importantly, they want to see themselves in the mirror.

As transparency increases, sales teams will have to further adapt and focus on macro level value alongside personalized conversations. Sales as we know it is changing, the pitch is evolving, and consumers are gaining more access to complete information. How will you handle it?


This article has been edited.

Jake Dunlap is the CEO and founder of Skaled, which helps companies optimize their sales process, people, and technology to accelerate business growth for scaling success. As a C-level sales leader and entrepreneur with more than a decade of experience, he has developed and led high-performing sales and operational functions for both global 2000 organizations and start-ups, specializing in building out repeatable, sustainable processes. Connect with @JakeTDunlap on Twitter.


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