Are you at risk of becoming obsolete? Or worse, could you lose your sales job altogether?
You could be vulnerable if you’re not sharpening your sales skills and honing the tactics that will help you succeed in 2020.
Forrester analyst Andy Hoar didn’t mince words when he spoke at the 2015 Forrester Sales Enablement Forum. He told the audience about his research and his expectation that out of the then 4.5 million B2B reps currently selling, as many as 1 million could be gone by 2020.
As startling as that statistic is, it’s not all that difficult to believe, what with buyers having ready access to digital content, their reliance on social media and the rise of e-commerce. It’s not just B2C companies that are selling directly from their websites, on Amazon or through affiliate relationships.
These changes have put the average order taker at risk. Reps aren’t disappearing; instead, they’re transitioning into the value-added resources their business customers need. Now more than ever, sales reps need to complement high-tech with high-touch.
Here are eight tactics and techniques that can help you meet your 2020 sales goals.
Adapt to the Digital Business Environment
You need to accept that digital content is an integral component of the buyer’s journey. Before B2B customers and prospects contact you, they will do their research, seeking out content they can download and watch at their convenience. Forrester estimates that 82% of buyers will have viewed at least five pieces of content from the vendor that wins their business.
But don’t merely accept digital, learn to use it effectively. Share links to your company’s latest case study with your prospects. Host webinars. Setup online conference calls. You don’t have to sit back and wait for buyers to reach out to you; use digital content as an excuse to stay connected.
Position Yourself as a Business Consultant
What comes after prospects consume your content? They have questions. Before they are ready to make an educated buying decision, however, they need insight, context and practical solutions to their business problems.
That’s the job of the sales rep turned business consultant. Customers and prospects need you to do more than demonstrate products and breeze through a sales pitch. They want your expertise customized to their situation.
You have the opportunity to meet your immediate goals as well as secure your job long into the future, provided that you can be the value-added resource that tailors solutions to customers’ unique problems and pain points.
Be the One Who Listens to Customers and Prospects
If you want to serve your customers and prospects effectively, then take the time to listen to them. I mean really listen to them because they are sharing inside information.
And when you speak, ask questions that encourage your prospects to open up and talk about the problems that keep them up at night. Not only will you have a better idea of how best to help them, but you’ll be compiling enough inside information to have a unique insight into their industry and business.
You’ll begin to see patterns that will help you know what buyers value most. By understanding your buyers’ needs better, you’ll be able to target your message and solutions more effectively.
Become a Recognized Thought Leader
You hear about social selling, but what does it mean to you? It’s all about building your platform and reputation online. One of the best places to do so is on LinkedIn.
But you need to do more than keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. You need to position yourself within your industry and build a following. To showcase your knowledge and insight, write short articles, post videos, share opinions and comment on other people’s content.
Don’t only write about your industry; make it personal. Update your followers on the trade shows you attend, the courses and seminars you take for continuing education credits and any time you receive company or industry recognition.
As a recognized thought leader, you’re building trust with customers and prospects.
Be Proactive About Achieving Your Goals
As with New Year’s resolutions, most goals are set and quickly forgotten. Top producers, however, stay on top of their goals. One way they do this is by setting more small and interim targets. In this way, you are always moving toward your primary objective.
Having regular, interim goals also helps you spot a potential problem quickly. When you know you have an issue early on, you have time to seek help and get back on track. Don’t wait until you stumble or miss quota, or your manager gives you a negative review. You need to be the first to know, own up to the situation and find a solution.
Keep Your Existing Customers Happy
It pays to keep your customers happy. While your chances of selling a new prospect are between 5% and 20%, you have as much as a 70% chance of selling to an existing customer. What’s more, it’s cheaper and more cost-effective to retain your customers than to acquire a new customer.
One way to keep your customers happy is to be their unofficial customer service rep. To your customers, you’re already the face of the company. You’re the one who helped them solve a particular problem. Let them know that you’re there for them after the sale too.
Complete Your Tasks
These days, completing tasks can be difficult. We’re bombarded with calls, emails, meetings and countless unscheduled interruptions. When you try to satisfy everyone’s demands by multitasking, you may find yourself at the end of the day with a desk full of unfinished work.
If you can’t multitask effectively, then change your process. When you start a task, see it through to completion before moving on to something new. You’ll get a lot more accomplished.
Strive to Do More
Top producers don’t settle for being average or just making quota. They set high goals—higher than their manager demands or their peers expect. If you want to meet and even exceed your goals in 2020, push yourself to exceptional. Even if you fall short of your objectives, you’ll be ahead of the pack. Make 2020 a year of personal bests.
Above all, if you want to meet or exceed your sales goals in 2020, be more than an order taker. Bring added value to your prospects, your existing customers, and most of all, to yourself. Today you are more than a sales rep. You are a consultant, a thought leader with knowledge and insight and a reputation for getting things done.
Jeff Kalter is CEO of 3D2B, a global business-to-business telemarketing company that bridges the divide between marketing and sales. He leads customer acquisition programs for Fortune 500 companies and is passionate about building strong business relationships through professional phone conversations.