He arrives in his Volkswagen Passat, neatly dressed in a suit and tie. He does not look flashy, but instead makes a very trustworthy impression. He is a salesman and has years of experience with convincing potential customers. He does so with the help of an ingenious sales presentation, which involves explaining why his solution is the perfect answer to all your questions and problems. He appears to know your every concern, as well as how to alleviate them. After he leaves, you are either holding a free sample or the keys to your new car.
Personal contact as the core of sales
Personal contact was the core of this traditional sales method. Until quite recently, the internet and social media did not even exist. Personal contact was therefore the only way for an organisation to present their knowledge of a specific solution. Although this sales method was never easy, it made for a clear and easy-to-understand process. Everyone with a bit of common sense and the necessary perseverance could be trained to become a sales professional.
The world has changed
Everything has changed with the rise of the internet and especially the availability of high-speed mobile internet connections in combination with the success of the iPhone. Information about products and solutions is available everywhere and to everyone. It is much easier and more valuable to do a quick Google search than to schedule an appointment with a salesperson. Google will give customers more information about a product’s features in ten minutes than the average salesperson ever could in that same amount of time. This has all but eliminated the added value of the personal contact inherent in traditional sales methods.
The consultant as a partner
How can you continue to offer your customers clear added value in this new world? When it comes to finding the information they need, most customers are largely self-sufficient. Nevertheless, it is clear that modern customers are looking for a partner, an adviser, someone who thinks along with them and offers them interesting and inspirational insights.
This requires more from the consultant than just knowledge of a product’s technical specifications or the customer’s situation. These days, having in-depth knowledge of a product is not enough to actually sell it. The same goes for putting yourself in the customer’s position and offering them insight into how a product can be used in a given situation. Even developing a custom application for the product and entering into strategic collaborations based on “preferred vendor” constructions is quite common these days.
It is all about inspiration
To really stand out, you must inspire your customers. As a consultant, it is important to know what is happening in a customer’s organisation, their sector and even the world. It is essential to be well aware of the latest technologic developments, the most disruptive inventions and the newest ideas pertaining to business organisation. This new sales method is all about offering new insights and inspiration. In the end, the customer will be eager to collaborate with you.
Engagement marketing is the trend
Customers are looking to collaborate with creative organisations and their talented staff. They want to utilise an organisation’s inspirational vision to help them draw up their own strategies and plans. Instead of the traditional “advertising as interruption,” engagement marketing is about attracting people in a more natural manner. By telling stories and having conversations, you can truly interact with your customer and inspire them. The ultimate goal is to develop a sustainable relationship in which your products are “bought” rather than “sold.”
Engagement marketing is about offering that which is most valuable to your customers. The core of sales in 2018 involves offering inspiration, new ideas and knowledge regarding ways for the customer to stand out and be innovative.