With the advent of technology, the way sales are done is rapidly changing. Customer acquisition has become highly targeted. Algorithms are being written on a daily basis by companies like Facebook and Google to ensure a targeted approach to marketing and sales. Data is king and data privacy has gone straight out the window. The days of door-to-door sales are over and selling online is turning out to be the new normal.
There is definitely a market for selling products online. Platforms like Kickstarter enable ideas at a demonstration stage to be showcased to an audience online. This, in turn, generates a demand online for the idea even before it goes into production. The scientific ability to target your respective audience online enables a business to reduce its costs and provide a clear value proposition for its customers. Companies like MoneyMax.ph, Goods.ph, Zalora, Lazada are making consumers go online for a friendly and hassle-free experience.
Does this mean sales teams are going to be replaced with the advancement of technology? Not really. It implies that an evolution taking place about how sales teams are managed and run. It is no longer about “closing a deal” or “making a sale” but about managing an experience from start to end, thus aiming to increase the lifetime value of the customer.
Any business today should be clearly communicating the value it aims to deliver to its customers. The sales teams are mostly the initial touch points to the customer and need to personalize the experience for the customers, build credibility, and guide them through the after sales process as a trusted advisor. Running an effective sales Team in today’s complex business environment entails 4 key elements namely the 4 P’s of sales: Product, Process, People and Party.
Product and process
Before engaging sales teams, it is crucial to define your product and the value you are trying to create with it. Answering some very simple questions can help define the value proposition of the product. What is the problem being solved? Do a lot of people face this problem? What can I do to solve this problem? How is my solution different from the others? Is my solution easier and customer friendly?
The larger the problem is, the larger the value adds you are bringing on the table implying a larger market acceptability of the product. One of the most important elements of your products is why that product exists. Answering this question gives your product a clear direction and purpose. It inspires crowds around you to share a common purpose with your product leading to a ripple effect.
Once your solution is defined, you need to understand the regulatory environment around your solution. This entails better understanding the industry you are moving into and knowing the spoken and unspoken rules of engagement. A thorough review of regulatory environment should give you an outline of how you should run or structure your business and distribution channels. A profile of someone who specializes in setting up new products has a very different skill set than someone who is gearing himself to sell a product. These skills are different, and, hence, are managed separately. Building the foundation comes first, and then you start laying the bricks.
People and party
Once the purpose of your product is clearly defined, you must use that definition to attract talent. One of the most neglected elements of a job interview is the connection of the prospective employee to your product or service. If they passionately connect to your solution (given product or service that you offer), then they will naturally work towards selling it. Connecting with the purpose of the product allows the sales representative to transform his sales pitch from a transactional level to an enthusiastic advocate of the solution, one who believes in the value he is adding to the whole supply chain. If you notice websites that sell products online always aim to curate crowdsourced reviews to gain credibility. Hard-selling products do not work anymore. Recommendations of peers go a long way, and hence our sales teams need to be convinced of the solution they are providing; so that they don’t come across as sales representatives, but as advocates for the customer’s needs.
The foundation of your sales teams needs to be done perfectly, starting with setting the right expectations on performance and closely linking that to customer needs and inputs. Goals are important to have as they provide a checkpoint to be crossed to stay on track, but it must most definitely be achievable. Achievable goals don’t mean easy targets but goals that are realistically achievable while not burning out your sales team. Having goals that positively affirm a sense of achievement leave your sales teams with a positive boost to hit higher goals month on month. Constant feedback and encouragement to sales team guides them to stay close to the core of the business. Feedback sessions can be powerful tools to improve the performance of teams and need not come only from the leader. Building a peer recognition and review culture drives accountability within the whole team. People who view feedback as a positive aspect of growing will move up the food chain eventually because those who are averse to change will become obsolete.
In multiple instances, we could forget we are dealing with people who need to be recognized and celebrated. A culture that is celebrating success is a winning culture to have and keep. It allows your team to celebrate small and big wins and keeps the moral of the team up and running. Small elements of when someone joins a company or has a company anniversary or birthday are celebrations that go a long way in reminding the whole team of how important they are. Small and unexpected gestures can be fun elements to engage the team in a healthy way. It makes them feel that you care and it helps to build a strong sense of belonging.
Technology may be changing very fast but the basic human instinct remains the same. Companies need to root their solutions from the customers and build their team in a customer-centric fashion. The tools are all out there; it is how we use those tools in these complex environments that will differentiate us, our product, our service.
Rahul Maira is the vice president of sales and operations at MoneyMax.ph, a financial comparison website aiming to help Filipinos save money through diligent comparisons of financial products.