The New Rules of Selling

The New Rules of Selling | Center for Customer Engagement

Sales and marketing are changing, and we all know why: buyers increasingly control these processes. They are cultivating their own access to information, they’re bypassing marketing and sales as a result, and the information they trust most is from their peers who are already using the product or service they’re considering. In other words, your customers.The result is an emerging “New Rules of Selling” (NRS) that are needed for this new type of buyer.
Why should you care? Because the NRS are creating huge demand by marketing and sales for information from your customer advocates, especially what I call your rock stars. Helping sales and marketing understand how your rock stars can be the difference-maker when competing under the NRS will dramatically increase your value to those organizations. And let’s face it, marketing and particularly sales, likely get the lion’s share of support and resources from senior management. They’re key to getting the resources and budget you need for your customer programs.
That’s why you should care. So let’s see what the NRS are and how to apply them to increase your value to sales and marketing.

Think of prospects as customers already
That’s because, in fact, they are. As any good lead gen or data marketer can tell you, prospects have value right now to your firm. You can quantify it. And there are things you can do to increase that value (and increase the likelihood they’ll buy your products and services). A prospect who subscribes to your newsletter is more valuable than one who doesn’t, all things being equal. A newsletter subscriber who views a customer video, more valuable still. If they download one of your customer stories, more valuable still. If they attend one of your events, more valuable still.
So work with marketing and sales to understand and quantify this progression of value at your firm. And incorporate this into your services to them.
Start forming a relationship with prospects now
By treating prospects as customers already, you change your mindset from convincing them to do something (a turn off), to developing a relationship with them (a potential turn on). At this point, prospects need help deciding how to solve their challenge and be successful. That’s your basis for establishing a relationship–helping them decide. Your “products and services” at this point are resources you have–most importantly, your existing rock stars–to help them do so.
Connect prospects to customers
Among all your firm’s resources, your existing customers are the ones that prospects value most. Get creative about finding new ways to connect customers–especially your rock stars–with prospects. You can do this by working hard to understand how prospects go through their buying process, and in particular, when and how they want to learn from and interact with your customers. As we learned from Sirius Decision’s Megan Hueur at the 2014 Summit on Customer Engagement, buyers increasingly want customer information throughout their decision journey.
Change your language-and mindset-about prospects
The language traditional sales and marketing uses to describe and relate to prospects is often atrocious–and entirely at odds with the NRS. We think of prospects or buyers, for example, as “targets” to be “sold to” by salespeople who are “hunters.” It’s critical to change this language, because language controls the conversation and conversation controls relationships both within your firm and with your market. So under the NRS, this needs to change.
Here’s a glossary for you. As time goes on and you get more proficient at the NRS, add to this:
– Don’t sell. Educate.
– Don’t spin. Be authentic.
– Don’t interrupt (as in interruption marketing, cold calls and the like). Attract.
– Don’t control the relationship. Connect prospects to others (especially your existing customers).
– Eliminate jargon (like “we provide end-to-end solutions”). Use plain language.
– Worry less about keeping your knowledge proprietary. Share it widely.
Those in a nutshell are the New Rules of Selling. Start using and incorporating these to frame the work you do for sales and marketing, and in the way you communicate with them. You’ll be glad you did, and so will they.

Bill Lee

Bill’s passion is helping clients reinvent customer relationships that achieve significant growth through the creation of highly engaged “rock star” customers and the powerful communities they build. These represent a huge, often untapped opportunity in today’s buyer-driven world. Bill has pioneered the concept that customer relationships constitute the most important—yet often “hidden”—off-balance-sheet asset in companies large and small, public and private.

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