The sales game has changed, significantly, due to the power shift that comes along with consumers having access to unlimited information, reviews and feedback via the internet. Selling to the uninformed always gave sales professionals an upper hand – they were relied upon for basic information that was otherwise unattainable. But that is the sales game of years gone by.
In today’s world, every consumer is armed with facts and heavy skepticism when faced with sales people. Does this make selling more difficult? Yes, if you’re still pulling out the old school stunts which are painful and torturous to your potential customers. Furthermore, they just don’t work.
What about relationship based selling?
Great question – people buy from those they know, like and trust. Absolutely. So relationships are critical, but the fact is that they’ll only take you so far.
If you’re just shooting the breeze and bonding with your customers and prospects over sports, food, recreation, etc. your sales capacity is limited. In fact, this is proven.
According to an article published in the Harvard Business Review, the sales profile that consistently and significantly outperforms the relationship-based sales person is that of the ‘Challenger.’
What is the ‘Challenger’ you ask?
The sales pro that fits the profile of the Challenger forces their prospects, customers and clients to think differently. To step outside of their current state… to consider shifts, trends, bigger pictures, things they haven’t had the foresight to see. They challenge the current state of affairs, not to threaten or insult the buyer, but rather to offer a different perspective; one that will ultimately help the buyer… proactively empowers them.
What to do about relationships?
The HBR article implies that it’s one or the other – Relationship Selling vs. Challenger Selling – which is misleading.
The best course of action is to become a trusted advisor – to continue to build and grow relationships, but to become that source of a higher perspective and insight. To provide value by way of creative thinking, offering solutions and ideas that keep your audience at the forefront.
This may be thought of as the companion to ‘Influencer Marketing’ – where one positions themselves as an influencer, by showcasing mastery of their topic. Prospects follow and pay attention, because influencers aid their efforts and keep them informed, shifting and molding their thought process.
This, my friend, is how you stack the deck in your favor in a world turned off by old schools sales methods. There’s no smoke and mirrors. There’s no concern over the BS detector. This is selling value in its highest form.