It’s a tough time for retail sales, with Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data showing this key driver of economic growth is stalling. Traditional sales tactics are becoming less effective due to the wealth of information freely available to people today and, thus, the rise of the savvy consumer. Trends globally echo this sentiment, with 57% of retailers agreeing buyers are less dependent on sales professionals during the buying process compared to just a few years ago.
So, where are consumers going to gain insights to help them make their purchase decisions? A research report titled Buyers Speak Out: How Sales Need To Evolve indicates that when trying to learn more about a business product or service, 70% of APAC consumers use a search engine, 53% visit a business’s website, and 42% read newsletters or emails. Only 29% of consumers connect with the sales representatives when they want to find out more.
Sales teams must recognise this shift in consumer mindset
Since consumers today conduct a lot of research in advance, they feel confident in their knowledge of the product they’re considering and have very specific expectations when they finally talk to a sales representative.
When speaking to sales representatives, consumers are ready to discuss pricing, how the product works and what they are trying to achieve with the purchase and sales representatives need to be prepared to answer and elaborate rather than push their own agenda.
Beyond just changing the topic of conversation, salespeople have to be aware of a trust deficit plaguing their profession. While 61% of buyers want to connect with a member from a sales department during their consideration phase, it is interesting to note that they trust information more when it is from customer service and marketing teams. Salespeople can overcome this by working with marketers and adopting the strategies used by them.
Smarketing: the alignment of marketing and sales
Sales representatives need to shift away from being straight sellers to becoming trusted advisors through an alignment with marketers. ‘Smarketing’, the alignment of marketers and salespeople, enables both teams to coordinate with one another to produce and share aligned content to buyers. By aligning goals, marketers are able to deliver better quality leads to convert a larger number of sales.
The goodwill does not just go one way, marketers have plenty to benefit from too.
Salespeople know their product in and out and have insights on past customer successes, ideal use cases and historical product information – these are all data points that today’s confident buyers rarely have access to.
With the help from sales, marketing teams can reframe content around what’s best for the customer, ensuring it isn’t sales driven at first glance.
Business owners and managers should take heed from the success of inbound marketers and start using inbound sales techniques to remove the pushy stereotype that salespeople carry.
Sales representatives need to keep interactions with consumers buyer-centric. Start by actively inquiring about and listening to the buyer’s challenges and goals for the purchase then tailor sales content to the wants and needs of the buyers with personalised messages.
Sales representatives today can (and should) use inbound techniques to leverage a whole host of technologies to understand what buyers are saying online and which buyers are visiting the businesses website, opening emails, and even viewing the pricing page. Over time, organised sales teams will be able to identify the behaviours of best fit customers, leading to better qualified leads.
Businesses that take notice of changing consumer mindsets and adapt their sales strategies can stand out from their competitors. They will be more in-tune and connected with the consumer, enabling a better buying experience and in turn boosting sales and revenue.
About the author
Ryan Bonnici is Director of Marketing with HubSpot (JAPAC)