One could wonder if there is still much difference between sales and marketing in the 21st century. The two functions seem more and more intertwined nowadays and it is a certainty that selling has changed a lot over the past decade and a salesman cannot rely anymore on mere abstract persuasion and charm as it was maybe the case 20 or more years ago.
The coming of internet has considerably changed the game and any potential buyer now has the power to compare an offer or proposal with tens of others in an instant before making a decision. In addition, this potential buyer can now easily check any mention of your company, products or services online and use them to their advantage. It also goes without saying that competition is even fiercer today than what it was 10 years ago.
So how could selling be defined today? Could it have turned into a one on one marketing exercise? Most probably yes. Micromarketing as opposed to mass marketing.
First of all, a good salesman will need to use most marketing channels available to him to try and trigger interest in their products and services before possibly moving to the stage of a telephone or face to face conversation with a prospect. While the first step towards a potential deal is to know your products and services like the back of your hand and be able to answer any questions or reservations your prospects may have, the second one is to know your potential customers perfectly. Consequently the first channel you will use is the internet to research your prospects.
While it may be a little bit more difficult if you’re selling to consumers it’s usually pretty easy for businesses as most of them will have their own website or a presence somewhere online. Try to collect as much information as possible about the company, their core values, their partners, their customers and use it to your advantage.
Once again if you’re selling to businesses, find them on LinkedIn and Twitter and try to interact with them. Don’t be too salesy, consider them as potential partners rather than buyers. More importantly try to have them follow you on social networks and show them how authoritative you are with relevant quality posts. Don’t even think about sending them an email before they have shown any interest in your company.
Being a good salesman in the 21st century requires great internet, marketing and account management skills. In fact they’re probably more important than pure selling skills. So remember to open your online marketing manuals before even thinking of closing a deal.