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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.