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About six months ago I was asked to submit a proposal on a branding project for a multi-national company.  I, along with several of my colleagues, put in at least week’s worth of preparation time, sat in on countless conferences calls and finally flew to the […]

About six months ago I was asked to submit a proposal on a branding project for a multi-national company.  I, along with several of my colleagues, put in at least week’s worth of preparation time, sat in on countless conferences calls and finally flew to the West Coast to make our case to the project leaders we thought were the decision-makers. It turned out that the people we were presenting to were endowed with all the responsibility to implement the project, but none of the power to make the important decisions – such as which consultants would be hired.

We spent weeks putting together what amounted to a very well-formed plan that the client could use with or without us, and provided them with several thousand dollars worth of free consulting. Unfortunately, in talking with other freelancers, entrepreneurs and corporate types, I’ve noticed an alarming trend towards service providers being asked to jump through extensive hoops and provide many services gratis, only to be told in the end “thanks, but no thanks.”

As we emerge from what many are calling a dismal decade, a lot of worried web workers are dazed and confused about how to effectively sell their services in this fragile economy. At no other time in the past 50 years has the field of selling changed so dramatically and quickly. In 2009, the infusion of social media transformed the selling landscape forever — and charted the course for 2010.

Josiane Feigon, author of the bestselling book “Smart Selling on the Phone and Online” and creator of the top business blog Cubicle Chronicles has identified the six transforming sales trends every busy web worker needs to know about to survive and thrive.

“The next generation of sales has arrived,” says Feigon. “people are fighting to be heard by busy and distracted prospects, and studies confirm that we are dialing more, but connecting less. We can no longer survive using Sales 1.0 tactics in a Sales 2.0 world. Instead workers must overhaul their skills and adapt quickly to meet the demands of these significant trends.”

According to Feigon, here’s the six trends, freelancers, entrepreneurs and corporate types need to pay attention to in the upcoming year.

  1. Do Your Homework: Given the glut of web-based information available, you must come to the table equipped with a depth of information and knowledge about your target customers that proves your interest and attracts the prospect’s attention.
  2. Create Contagious Content: Regularly publishing relevant content that is on message to a potential client’s concerns, needs and objectives increases your credibility and reinforces awareness of your services. In an era where content is king, frequent distribution of varying content (such as trend reports, webinars, articles and the like) is a must.
  3. Synchronize Email and Voicemail: In order to increase response rate dramatically, email and voicemail messages must work together. Today’s web worker needs to create a consistent messaging, no matter what medium is used.
  4. Determine Power Buyer Worthiness: More people today are involved in the decision-making process, but fewer have the power to make a purchase decision. Learning to recognize the “Power Buyer” and push their hot buttons will quickly take you into a position for closing the deal.
  5. Get Good at Online Presentations: Web conferencing tools have replaced in-person meetings, but holding audiences captive through a Death by PowerPoint presentation guarantees a lost sale. Taking the time to organize, design, and build strong online presentations will quickly convert prospects into buyers.
  6. Practice Prospecting 2.0: In order to engage a prospect’s attention, it is essential for you to assert themselves into the prospective buyer’s social network by participating in the client’s social media outlets, such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and the appropriate blogs.

While practicing the above productivity-enhancing sales skills might not make you an overnight success, it will keep you from spending your precious time and energy pitching the wrong thing, to the wrong people, in the wrong way, at the wrong time.

Share your supercharged sales tips in the comments.

  1. Karen,

    Thanks for posting this. I totally agree with Josiane. Cold calling success rates are dropping dramatically as we all become more-and-more screened.

    We can use social media tools to be way better informed about our prospects before we call. In addition, a real “killer app” is using social networks to get REFERRALS to your prospects, effectively changing a cold call into a referral call.

    I actually coined the term “Sales 2.0″ to capture the need for these kind of improvements in the way we sell. Buyers radically changed their buying patterns around a decade ago when Google came out. This trend has only become greater with the advent of social media where buyers seek recommendations from each other BEFORE ever talking to a sales person.

    Josiane, thanks for your continued work in this area.

    Nigel

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  2. Particularly like #4 – nothing worse than spending hours on a proposal, for it to go nowhere, and realistically, it never was going to go anywhere.

    We’re big believers in helping people with their productivity from a tech perspective… so much so, there’s a 12 module video course below… and the first module you can watch for free…

    http://increasingworkplaceproductivity.the845club.com/

    Keep up the good work WWD team.

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  3. I agree with your post and in particular #5

    “Get Good at Online Presentations: Web conferencing tools have replaced in-person meetings, but holding audiences captive through a Death by PowerPoint presentation guarantees a lost sale. Taking the time to organize, design, and build strong online presentations will quickly convert prospects into buyers.”

    It is vital to invest in yourself and as you say create an effective customer centric presentation [translation: more emotive pictures less words]…a key point here also is to RECORD a presentation [one where you shine] that you may have invited key clients/prospects to and then use this as a value add in your prospecting to establish yourself as an expert in the field. GET THEM ON A FOLLOW UP LIST that provides valuable and relevant information is something I would add in that way you are there when they are ready to buy and very much on their landscape in terms of partners.

    I could not agree more that selling (or rather buying) as changed – there is a New Sales Revolution….Crack the Code Write the Rules!

    Thanks for your post!

    Harry

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    1. Hi Harry,

      I wouldn’t say that Web conferencing tools have replaced in-person meetings, they have just added another opportunity to connect more often with customers and prospects and deliver a “wow factor”.

      In person meetings will always need to continue in order to build the trust that will resonate as repeat business.

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      1. Hi Drew thanks for your thoughts, appreciated.

        Agreed and certainly not my meaning, nothing can replace a face to face meeting with a prospect to establish and cement the Know, Like, Trust factor and having a relationship with that person.

        So, I agree in principle only to illustrate the power of various tool that a sales person can leverage to their advantage rather than having to follow the course of Sales 1.0 People who would be stuck with a big fat “NO”…and not knowing what to do, sa okay and then annoy the customer with the usual “are you ready NOW?” calls…believe me I was that soldier.

        So what I am saying is as the market and buying trends change, and depending on the situation, a virtual meeting can work very well saving time and money on BOTH sides – a fact that many customers appreciate.

        Rather than having to have everyone in one office and the possible travel time needed to get the various key individuals in the one room on a day that is invariably cancelled due to workloads etc…you could have [and I have had] virtual meetings on the laptop where all involved log in from their office, we go through the report etc and job done…

        I believe it’s in the way you position it to your customer and certainly not meant as a replacement to the time honoured and effective face to face meeting…which I prefer when it is not an obvious waste of anyones time.

        Personally, I would rather have the option and Sales 2.0, including web conferencing gives me and many other sales people that option….

        Your website looks interesting by the way!

        Happy selling!

        Harry

        http://www.salesreloaded.com/unplug

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  4. [...] 6 Sales Skills to Supercharge Your Productivity Josiane Feigon, author of the bestselling book “Smart Selling on the Phone and Online” and creator of the top business blog Cubicle Chronicles has identified the six transforming sales trends every busy web worker needs to know about to survive …. in the one room on a day that is invariably cancelled due to workloads etc…you could have [and I have had] virtual meetings on the laptop where all involved log in from their office, we go through the report etc and job done… … [...]

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  5. Agreed getting good at online presentations is a 2.0 activity. This other post talks about developing a good web cam presence. http://www.dynamicalsoftware.com/news/?p=76 also talks about relationship building the 2.0 world, community management, and leveraging social networks to raise trust.

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