It's time for sales to grow up. It’s no longer about our sales cycle, it’s about our customers' buying cycle.
I recently met with two passionate and smart chaps in London, England from Artesian Solutions (hence, the usage of the term chaps).
Andy Sadler and Dale Roberts are dinosaur pushers. They’re pushing the slow-moving and ever-lazy beast of sales. They question the efficacy of doing things normally or routinely and it was inspiring to see this level of innovation from across the pond.
You see, Andy and Dale firmly believe in the transformative power of social media in B2B sales.
They’re already working with some of the largest and most well-known brands in Europe. In our discussion, we exchanged ideas and stories and shared battle scars as we dreamt about how social would revolutionize the world of sales. Very bold stuff, indeed.
One point of discussion was the concept of sales cycles. Specifically, how the term sales cycle is completely outdated. At least in its present-used concept of moving a potential buyer along pre-defined paths/stages that you’ve labelled for them. It’s losing meaning.
Today, the world is moving towards the buying cycle.
Buyers move at their own pace, in directions that us sales professionals haven’t yet figured out. They demand access to information at their own time in ways that suit their buying cycles. This poses significant challenges for companies who still try to force their buyers down a path that’s comfortable for them, and not their buyers.
A Changing of the Guard
Salespeople and the organizations that we work for have had it far too good for far too long.
Not much has changed in the way the buyer is treated over the last 30 years or so. Technologies have advanced, sales methodologies have come and gone, but buyers have never had the seat of power. Yes, they wrote the check but they were led down a path so we could extract them from their cash.
Do me a favor and turn to your CRM system and see what phases of the sales cycle you currently have in there. Your company expects buyers to be shuttled down these phases and they’ve got time expectations. This is the only way predictability can be built into the business.
I’m here to tell you there’s going to be a changing of the guard en masse … and it’s already begun. This changing of the guard will throw many organizations into a tailspin. Don’t be one of them (or a part of one of them).
Time to Thrive!
First off, ask yourself if you even buy into the idea that I’m talking about. Does it seem real to you? If so, what can you do to ensure you’re on the innovation curve?
It starts from acknowledging that the internet and social media have placed the buyer firmly in the seat of control. You've got to be willing to admit this first before anything.
If you've acknowledged the power of the buying cycle, it’s time to think about what to do next. May I suggest learning social selling? By learning how to use social media tools effectively, you can learn how to help buyers who are moving through the buying cycle. Give them the information they need without selling; this is a great start.
The Bottom Line
The world of sales will have to adapt and grow up. Buyers are now moving at their own pace and our terminology as sales professionals will have to change to keep up. It’s no longer about our sales cycle, it’s about the buying cycle. Understand this subtle change in nuance in and you’ll be ready to enter the rabbit hole.
Remember, social selling isn't difficult - it’s just different.