As the year is quickly winding down, I wanted to take a look at sales and business development as a practice in 2014 from my very personal perspective. Not that I believe that I am in a position to provide an all-encompassing view of the sales world, but being in the trenches every single day, helping my clients with their business growth, I’ve encountered some who are “naughty” and some “nice”! Especially as I do a lot of prospecting for my own company, as well as for some select clients.
Being in sales means that you put yourself out there in a way that is different from other business areas. You need to bring yourself into the process and without being able to build trust, it will be hard to be successful.
So, taking a look back at 2014, I’d like to share with you what I observed …
Social Selling – Be Personal
Social Selling has become a buzz word and very often misunderstood and/or misinterpreted. Below is the link to an interesting article in Forbes Magazine to that effect.
Yes, Twitter and LinkedIn are essential when it comes to building relationships and finding decision makers. LinkedIn, in my humble opinion, more so than Twitter, but I let the experts judge that. The question will ultimately always be (and that holds true for every technology) – how to use it. Being a business owner I get messages on LinkedIn all the time, and inundated via Twitter, people pitching their business and telling me about their great services. Although they found me, they often fail to understand what I do and what my business offers. Their offerings are generic, often not relevant and therefore ignored by me. So, borderline Naughty, wouldn’t you agree?!
My approach with LinkedIn and Twitter (which I like to think falls in the “Nice” category) is to build a personal relationship first, look at similarities that I share with people and truly understand their role and their company. People buy from other people, as I have said before and I can’t say it often enough. If you are not building rapport and you are just using generic messages, blasting messages you might as well not use any of the social platforms because they could work against you. Irrelevant messaging is a bit insulting (Naughty?), because obviously the person reaching out hasn’t done their research.
Content Marketing – Be Relevant
Another buzz word. Great concept, but the same philosophy holds true. You need to be relevant and build a unique voice. If you hire people to just write on topics that you provide them with, it will be hard for your readers to find your content engaging (might be a bit Naughty?). When it comes to content marketing, it is important to put a stake in the ground and to create content that is relevant to your audiences. Be edgy, relevant and engaging. (Now that’s Nice!)
Business Courtesy – Treat Everybody with Respect
I have observed that business courtesy is at times taking a back seat. For some reason there are some people who must believe that with the presence of social media networks, they needn’t be as courteous as they used to be (or were they always Naughty?). It’s concerning and honestly a bit frustrating.
Especially, saying thank you and getting back to people has gotten out of style.
Sometimes, I’m inclined to believe that some decision makers treat vendors with less respect (now that’s Naughty, right?). We understand that we are all at times inundated with information. And we understand that decision makers have the buying power. But for vendors, it’s still Nice(!) to get a message when a buyer has decided to work with a competitor.
Commitment – Sticking to a Promise is Good Business
History shows that people who are committed will be more successful than those who are not. Commitment or the lack thereof showed up in many areas in 2014 from my perspective. Once you commit to something, you should stick with it (Nice!). As I’ve shared with many of my contacts, there is never a good time to have a baby! And as experience shows, there is never a good time to do sales training, or to implement a new system. But the rewards for going forward in all these cases are overwhelmingly positive. By dragging out decisions, you keep your company from moving forward on the one hand, but it also shows that you are not good for your word, which can have devastating effects on your reputation (real Naughty!). AND, if you change your mind while planning, just simply communicate it (definitely a Nice!).
Outlook for 2015 – Bright and Sunny
What I personally like about these developments is that the cream is rising to the top (real Nice!). More and more sales people are becoming experts, working hard at being better listeners and trusted advisors to their clients. I see more and more companies who are working at becoming better corporate citizens. They work on their commitment, to their employees, to their clients, to their vendors and to themselves (incredibly Nice!). They certainly have to – competition is fierce. And more and more people are making decisions based on integrity. I’m so impressed that all of our clients are successful with the desire to be Best-in-Class. They want their sales people to stand out from the crowd. So my mission to elevate the reputation of sales and its practitioners is one step closer to becoming a reality.
And so, with buckets full of optimism, I wish you all very Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a Happy, Healthy and Successful New Year!