Business Sales April 4, 2014

Why SMEs Need to Adapt Their Sales Process Now!


It is broadly understood that buyers now have access to a wide range of information and advice that they can download simply and quickly online. This has driven a significant change in the way that people buy your products. Whilst, a lot of business owners claim that their business has adapted to this change, many do not realise that their sales process is still stuck in the 1990s.

Some companies may have already shifted their marketing to take advantage of this new world of on-line information, but has your sales team made any adjustment?

Many businesses simply do not understand how the new sales process needs to work, or how they can use the powerful tools that are available to them.

In our recent Vistage Quarterly report we discuss the new world of Sales 2.0 and consider how many business owners can enable their salespeople to use their time more wisely and effectively.

In a nutshell, Sales 2.0 is about taking the insights about customer engagement from the company’s websites and social media platforms and creating rich interactions between sales teams and their prospects at the right time and between the right people. Giving them the right tools to sell more effectively.

In our recent Confidence Index Survey we asked what sales tools are used by Vistage members’ sales teams.

This research reflects that the use of social media by their sales teams is growing, with 14% of members saying it is one of their three most useful sales tools. This is just one of the many facets of how Sales 2.0 tools can assist sales teams during the sales process.

Higher-performing sales teams are already exploiting the interactive capabilities of the web to improve their effectiveness and are increasing their performance when converting leads into sales.

Forbes magazine recently reported that 78% of salespeople using social media outsell their peers. Whilst other research by Aberdeen Group suggests that not only do 70% of best-in-class sales teams use social media but those using what they termed “social selling” outperform across a range of measures.

In addition research conducted by IBM’s Institute of Business Value suggests that 60% of businesses will be using social media and related tools in their sales operations by the end of 2014.

The greatest misconception about Sales 2.0 is that it entails making pitches through social media channels. This is not effective - in fact you can do more harm than good if these tools are used inappropriately.

As a business leader it is important that your business understands that you do not need to abandon older sales techniques.

In fact, a salesperson that embraces Sales 2.0 will use networks like LinkedIn and Twitter to their advantage through all stages of the sales process, moving it forward with email, phone calls and face-to-face meetings, when appropriate – making these traditional methods more effective.

This new sales process requires a new kind of salesperson with a different set of skills. Traditionally salespeople were great 'hunters' that could find prospects and convert them to a sale quickly. They had the power in the relationship and were able to use their knowledge as a weapon - they knew the market, while the buyer had little information.

Today it is important that businesses understand that the dynamics of the relationship has changed- buyers are now in the driving seat.

As Grant Leboff (Vistage Speaker and MD of Sticky Marketing) says we now need 'farmers' rather than 'hunters'. We need sales people "who will cultivate and guide prospects as they go through their buying process rather than your selling process". 

The good news is that  whether you are a small restaurant, a chain of boutique hotels or an international engineering business, you can adjust to the new buyer easily. Infact the new online tools often favour nimble businesses over slow, rigid competitors. 

If you've not already made the change maybe it is time for your businesses to transform your sales processes accordingly.


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