The Internet has changed a lot of things, not the least of which is how prospective customers research and make purchases. While some “old-timers” might find this hard to deal with, we at Asher see these changes as training opportunities.
Read on for some of the biggest changes the Internet has created in sales, and some sales training tips to help deal with each one.
1. Sellers no longer control the information their prospects get
It used to be that salespeople were the only ones with brochures and data sheets, so prospects were obligated to go through them to find out more about a product or service. The Internet has not only placed all “brochures” (company websites) at the disposal of all, 24 hours a day, but also information that some companies might prefer to keep hidden, such as negative reviews.
Sales training tip: Teach salespeople to keep track of the information about their product and company which is out there on the Web, both positive and negative, in order not to get caught flat-footed when buyers bring something up.
2. Sellers have incredible access to personal data
On the flip side of the coin, a tremendous amount of prospect information is available to marketers. Browsing histories, political and religious affiliations, social habits, personal values — all of these are available via tracking cookies and social media.
Sales training tip: Encourage sales staff members to thoroughly research their prospects online, including social media profiles. Not only will this help identify potential needs and build rapport, but will also help identify “coaches” who can help set up a meeting, as covered in our 10-Step Sales Process.
3. It’s a small world after all
The Internet’s near-global reach means that distance is no longer a barrier, especially for companies whose products and services can be delivered electronically. Even for those who have to physically deliver product, the Web allows buyers to compare them with local suppliers, providing an opportunity to market to new regions internationally without much added expense.
Also helping to level the playing field is the fact that small companies can appear as sophisticated as large multi-nationals online, making company size much less of a barrier than before.
Sales training tip: Have your sales team and management explore how new markets can be approached through online marketing. This could be as simple as serving translated pages of your website when visitors from certain countries come to visit (as identified by IP address).
One thing to keep in mind is the old adage: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Despite all the changes and technological wizardry we enjoy today, sales is still, and always will be, based on a relationship between a buyer and seller. The basic steps of sales therefore still apply no matter how short-lived that relationship ends up being: find someone to sell, qualify, present, handle objections, etc.
So the final sales training tip for today is: Practice the basics of communication and sales continually — as these will always be in fashion for as long as humans need goods and services from others, and even if buyer and seller only “meet” in cyberspace.