Prospecting is more difficult than ever because of all the filtering devices that exist. Yet salespeople still must prospect for new customers if they want to be successful in the long run. Unfortunately, originators who use phone calls or emails to prospect are experiencing record low response rates. Can you blame people for not answering the phone or emails? Not really. Today’s consumers are bombarded with a torrent of unsolicited calls and emails. Vendors have found ways to circumvent the “Do Not Call List” and spam filters which has exacerbated the situation. Some sales trainers advise originators to make cold calls. Others recommend integrating social media with outreach efforts. What is the right strategy?
Determining the right strategy starts off by recognizing that the buyer’s journey has fundamentally changed across the retail sales landscape. In the past, a mass market approach was used to create brand awareness to drive sales. The bigger the reach, the better. Television and radio filled the bill nicely by delivering large audiences to companies and their sales professionals. Mass marketing was worth its weight in gold because of its ability to reach so many prospects at once.
Today, marketing has changed because consumers want information that is personal and relevant to them. They want it when they want it. Consumers do not want to receive advertising that is forced on them. The rise of video on demand which allows a person to fast forward through commercials is a popular solution to the relentless onslaught of unwanted advertising. The old marketing strategy of throwing everything against the wall and hoping that something sticks has turned out to be too expensive and not as productive as before.
Consumers and referral sources value personalized and relevant information. The rise of CRM systems has helped address the issue of personalization, but the issue of relevance is still not handled effectively. CRM systems’ ability to use a person’s name in the salutation is a step in the right direction. But does that make the recipient want to read the email or direct mail piece? Not really. Personalization must be tied to relevant content to be effective. Scaling relevant material is a challenge that requires all producers to rethink their sales models. However, many sales professionals view conveying relevance as the responsibility of the company’s marketing department. To stand out in the digital age, both companies and originators must take responsibility for marketing to prospects.
Similarly, when it comes to an originator’s selling technique, many producers are still using a generic benefit selling approach which is another version of mass marketing. One example is the false assumption that every prospect values pricing above everything else.
We are in a world of “What’s in It for Me!” Consumers are demanding to be treated individually and receive information that is relevant to them. Salespeople should reframe their marketing approach to implement a targeted effort to share valuable content with their tribe of customers and influencers. Whether in marketing or selling, treating everyone the same is repeating the mass marketing efforts of yesteryear.
Originators need to implement a personal marketing strategy that is not dependent solely on what their company is advertising. Sales professionals are responsible for establishing their personal value proposition that makes them unique in their respective territories.
To master the retail sales environment, companies and their sales staff must provide insight and expert opinions that are relevant to their prospects. Sometimes that might even mean referring the consumer to another company if that would be a better fit for the prospect.
These are difficult times in origination because consumers are tired of being led down the wrong path by a salesperson and a lender. On top of all this, good sales professionals must overcome all the misperceptions created by poor originators. The first step in making a good impression is to make every touchpoint relevant to the potential buyer.