By Peter High. Published on Forbes
84 percent of sales leaders say they don’t believe they have the sales talent they need to succeed in the future. Why is that? Moreover, what can companies and their sales leaders do about it? I had a chance to speak with Byron Matthews, the Chief Executive Officer of the sales training, consulting, technology and research company Miller Heiman Group about approaches to use to improve sales.
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Peter High: How has sales changed in the digital age?
Byron Matthews: The reason that sales has changed is that buyers have changed. Buyers have access to more information than ever before; buyers aren’t necessarily better informed, but they’re more informed. What we know for sure, what Miller Heiman’s research has shown, is that buyers are engaging sellers further along in the sales process, and only 23 percent of buyers are looking to sellers as a primary source of information.
Buyers are getting better at buying faster than sellers are getting better at selling.
Years ago, it was enough for a seller to meet with a potential buyer and ask great questions, to get a sense of the buyer’s needs, then come back and present them with a solution. In the digital age, that won’t cut it; you’ll just be wasting the buyer’s time. It is no longer just about providing information to a buyer, it’s about inspiring the buyer. In today’s selling environment, you need to provide a buyer with perspective on something they haven’t processed or thought about.
What inspires buyers are data-backed insights that make them think differently. Once buyers start thinking differently, they’ll start listening and looking to you for information. In a word, selling has become more sophisticated; sellers need to draw on their IQ, their data-backed knowledge, just as much as their EQ, their relationship-building skills.