Engagement: The New Competitive Edge
By Buff Parham, Parham & Associates, LLC
B2B selling in the "Digital Age" is a new ballgame! Many of the older tried and true "rules of sales" won't get the job done. And given the never-ending march of technology, everyone needs to transform his or her game or get left behind!
The "monopoly" on proprietary information is a thing of the past. In almost every B2B sales environment, the customer now has instant access to timely and accurate information about whatever is being sold. The seller used to have some power based on the ability to "reveal" the product/service on his/her terms. That's simply no longer the case. Most buyers are now required to "educate" themselves independently of their sellers in order to make a more "objective" assessment of whatever is being bought/sold. Assuming that your prospect hasn't done their homework on your product/service is simply a bad bet!
Transactions are moving at the speed of light! Once again, digital technology has shortened the sales cycle, especially in enterprises that produce on a "just in time" basis. And that reality extends to all of the suppliers of the companies that operate in that fashion. Buying closer to the "need date" can also give the buyer leverage to drive down prices/rates if the seller is starting to panic about unsold inventory. Tracking the length of your sales cycles with all of your clients is now a critical piece of data.
For many businesses, the margin of quality among potential suppliers is extremely thin. Regardless of what unique claims you might want to make about your product/service, chances are that at least a handful of your competitors are either slightly ahead or slightly behind you on the subjective criteria we call "quality." And buyers really don't want to hear about how superior yours is unless you can prove it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Very rarely is that the case, so making the "We're #1" claim stick is tricky business.
If all of the above is even remotely true, then how do you gain that critical competitive edge? By being more engaged with your customers than your competitors. And not just on a superficial basis. The winners in this new B2B selling environment are so engrained in their customers' respective businesses that they are perceived as invaluable partners! It takes a lot of work and dedication to get that immersed in someone else's business, but it is absolutely critical for long-term success!
Here are some critical keys for effective and lasting customer engagement:
- Assume that you can never learn enough about your customers' businesses.
- Dedicate yourself to conveying relevant and compelling ideas and information to your customers that they might not want to hear from anyone else.
- Most importantly, learn to listen carefully to what your customers have to say about their businesses. Quite often, they will give you valuable insights that can allow you to become even more engaged in their enterprises than you already are.
Your customers place great value on having salespeople that are fully engaged in their businesses and tend to reward them accordingly over time. Make sure you're flying "First Class" and not just "Coach" with all of your customers by becoming and staying fully engaged!
About the Author
Digital Media Training is excited to announce the addition of Buff Parham, a widely recognized thought leader and outstanding coach in the media sales and sales management field. With 35 years of sales experience, Buff has worked at Univision, FOX, Belo, ABC and CBS. He started in the mailroom at CBS, but quickly moved on to selling locally at KABC/Los Angeles and nationally for ABC Spot Sales in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Buff then continued on to spend almost 12 years with Univision, first as General Sales Manager at KUVN/KSTR in Dallas, and then 5 years in New York as SVP/Sales.
Check out Buff’s Blog www.BuffParham.com
About Molly DePasquale
Molly DePasquale is the Manager of Operations and Sales Training Strategist for DMTraining. She manages the day-to-day business and training operations while helping research and develop new training programs as well as refreshing signature programs to reflect the newest sales trends, technology, and best practices. Molly utilizes her wide-range of skills to create sales and marketing assets focused on delivering value to DMT’s clients. Molly has a passion for learning and leveraging new knowledge and experiences. Outside of DMTraining, Molly is a hard core Pittsburgh sports fan, enjoys staying active by running and golfing, and unwinds by reading and playing the piano.