Death of a Salesman
Death of a Salesman is one of the most famous novels of all time.
It actually has nothing to do with sales job at all. However, the name of this novel sounds really familiar among all sales professionals and has been used for certain metaphors.
The most common one would be done with the disruption which occurs nowadays. People keep saying that death of a salesman will never be as real as it is right now.
They keep saying that we no longer want salesman anymore. They believe that sales job would vanish like a lot of other professions.
So what’s your thought on this?
Welcome to one of the most interesting discussions in the world of sales – Is death of a salesman already around the corner?
In this article, there will be all valid answers to this debate for you.
I totally Disagree with This!
First of all, before anyone else would argue on this, I’d like to strongly confirm that the concept about death of a salesman is what I totally disagree.
On the other hand, this profession will hardly vanish if you understand thoroughly enough how to adapt.
All you need to do is to change yourself from a traditional salesman to be a professional sales consultant who is equipped with digital selling tools.
In order to illustrate this, let me explain what professional sales consultant normally do with 3 most important basics as explained below.
1. Effectiveness in Communication
Let’s start with the very basic. You need to communicate well. As simple as that.
However, this might sound too subjective so let me refer to a research conducted by Saleshacker.com. Below are their great findings about how successful sales consultant differentiate themselves from others.
- They would spend not more than 46% of the time in each conversation doing the talk while they spend the rest to focus on question and listening.
- Averagely, they would ask around 11-14 questions in each conversation and the success rate would be up to 74% by asking that many quality questions.
- The switch per minute between them and customers would be around 4 times. That means they know how to engage customers in the conversation, rather than just keep talking.
To summarize, successful sales consultant wouldn’t just focus on talking. No matter how well they present, that alone wouldn’t bring them enough success.
On the other hand, all of them would master their questioning and listening in order to probe for explicit needs or customers.
However, there is one more thing to be aware of.
Trust me, you wouldn’t hear yourself when you talk to others, especially to customers when you have to focus on selling.
You wouldn’t really know whether you talk too much, ask enough questions, or listen attentively enough.
And this is what half of salespersons are stuck with and cannot improve to be successful sales consultant.
This is why you need to understand digital selling tools which would take part in helping you improve your communication.
So let me introduce a great digital selling tools called ‘Conversation Intelligence’, part of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales CRM.
It is an AI tool which measures your communication effectiveness, indicates what’s right or wrong, and tells you what to do in order to communicate effectively with customers.
Below are examples of features of Conversation Intelligence.
- Talk to Listen Ratio
It measures how much you talk, compared with how much you listen in each sales call. It also captures your speed of talk, indicates whether you talk too fast or too slow, and shows whether you have a right number of switch time.
- Best Practice Keywords
It recognizes keywords which customers want to engage with and help make progress of your sales call. This could be used as a best practice to also coach other team members.
- Customer Sentiment
It captures certain things customers talk about their pain point repeatedly in the conversation. Therefore, you could understand customer better and offer something that meets their requirements or solve problems they may have.
And this is how you would benefit from using this digital selling tool from Dynamics 365 Sales.
- It is similar to having a mentor sitting right beside you in each sales call. You would know what to fix without wasting time doing your own experiment.
- You would understand customer better. It is likely that building rapport with them would be much more effective than ever before.
- Best practice for your team would be achieved. That means success could be scaled throughout the team.
And this is to prove that sales is science. You could predict the success if you know the right input for your sales activities.
And if you don’t understand this or adapt yourself quickly enough to the world of digital selling, Death of a Salesman could be the actual chapter of your sales career far more quickly than you might realize.
2. Quality of The Follow-up
Mike Brooks, one of the sales management gurus has conducted an interesting research with the result as below.
- 48% of salespersons never follow up their offer.
- 25% of them follow up only once.
- 12% of them follow up only twice.
- Only 10% of them follow up more than 3 times.
This is the stat from seller’s side. Now let’s take a look at buyer’s side.
- Only 2% of customers buy straightaway after having the offer.
- Only 3% buy after being followed up once.
- Only 5% buy after being followed up twice.
- Only 10% buy after being followed up 3 times.
- 80% buy after being followed up more than 3 times.
To summarize from this stat, sellers hardly follow up. And buyers won’t buy unless they have been followed up enough.
This is what most salespersons don’t understand and ignore to follow up promptly.
On the other hand, some of them do have a lot of follow-ups. However, the quality of the follow up is so low that customers are annoyed.
So instead of making good sales progress, their follow up ends up being their main bottle-neck. And such a bad follow-up brings them the chapter of the Death of a Salesman much more quickly than they might realize.
So follow up is another process which all successful sales consultants understand the importance and also know how to bring in digital selling tools to help them out.
In this part, Microsoft has an amazing tool called ‘Sales Accelerator’ to also help you on this.
Let me give the example of the feature of Sales Accelerator. They call it Smart Recommendations for Next Action and Task.
It allows you to understand what should be the next action plan to follow up with customers.
For example, it tells you when to call customer next or when to send next e-mail. Besides, it advises what should be the appropriate topics to talk to or to include in the e-mail.
This also includes the tool which, I believe, almost everyone is familiar with these days. The Microsoft Teams.
As we know, face-to-face visit is not very easy these days due to the pandemic. And by not being able to approach customer, follow up cannot be done at all.
So it is very obvious how Microsoft Teams can be another great tool to use together with Sales Accelerator in order to follow up customer effectively in this era.
Anyway, Microsoft Teams is not meant to only be used as a video call. There are a lot more from this amazing tool.
It provides and facilitates not only communication but also great collaboration which helps us link our team as a seller and customer’s side as a buyer perfectly.
Microsoft Teams creates environment where virtual meeting becomes as effective as face-to-face meeting.
This also includes all AI features which will make your meeting become more attractive than ever before.
For instance, it eliminates surrounding noise during the meeting, adjusts the lighting so you would look best in front of customers, shows Emoji which you could help express the feeling, or allows access to the digital whiteboard which makes brains-storming become effective at most.
So from all features of Sales Accelerator and Microsoft Teams mentioned earlier, below are benefits you would receive.
- It is similar to having a personal assistant to help you with an effective action plan for each sales.
- You know how to make your sales progress faster.
- You would receive a better rapport. Customer would see you as a consultant and assistant, rather than a pushy salesperson.
- It creates major differentiation which makes you one step ahead of competitors, in terms of collaboration and engagement with customers.
- It eliminates limitation in the new normal world. You should even see this as a great opportunity to be more competitive than others.
- And of course, you would win more sales with shorter sales cycle.
And this is how you would become a great sales consultant who understands digital selling thoroughly.
3. Maximize Productivity
As a sales leader, I always have number one priority of my own when trying to improve my sales team.
Unless I achieve this number one goal, I won’t place more focus on anything else.
And such goal is to ‘ensure that my sales team reach maximum productivity, in terms of sales activity’.
Don’t forget that one of the most wasted cost of sales team is the time that sellers spent doing something else, rather than conduct proper sales activities during sales hour.
Other activities I am talking about could be as below.
- Check email in the office.
- Admin work
- Meeting (which might be unnecessary)
- Stock Talking
For instance, it would never work well enough if you just come up with 2-3 sales calls per day, no matter how great your sales strategy is.
On the other hand, imagine how great it could be if you could increase your sales calls or overall sales productivity up to 10 times.
This would surely lead to the better sales result at the end.
However, this wouldn’t just be the same old numbers game. Quality must also be achieved in each call.
All great sales consultants understand this and will try their best to work on time management to increase sales productivity at all time.
And now, there is another great news to inform you.
Once again, Microsoft has come up with another great digital selling tool to support you on this. They understand the importance about sales productivity not any less than anyone else.
Therefore, they introduce “Workplace Analytics” which aims to achieve the following objectives.
- It allows you to understand the winning behavior of successful salespersons.
- It stimulates you to have the best productivity, in terms of sales activities which are also in compliance with company’s goals.
- It helps increase proficiency which leads to better win rate and higher sales result.
And below are examples of AI features of this tool.
- Customer focus: This is to analyze whether sellers spend enough time with customers.
- Employee Experience: This is to advise whether sales leaders spend enough time coaching their team to enhance capability. It also analyzes whether sellers spend too much time doing something else which are non-productive sales activities, such as unnecessary email checking.
- Meaningful Interactions: This is to remind that we should have enough participation with other departments which helps increase overall productivity of our own department and company as a whole.
- Recommended Plan: Sales leaders would benefit most from this. It will advise what each seller should do in order to improve productivity or time management.
Don’t forget that everyone has the same 24 hours per day.
Winners are those who understand how to utilize those 24 hours effective by knowing the right priority which fits them the best.
This is how successful sales consultants always realize and never overlook the importance of digital selling at all cost.
Once again, sales job, especially corporate sales still has far more opportunities than we might realize.
This job is nowhere near the end.
However, the end of sales job could be just around the corner for those who don’t adapt fast enough like what has been explained in this article.
So do open for all changes.
Change from a traditional salesperson to become a professional sales consultant.
Get yourself involved in the digital selling before everyone else.
Because those who adapt better would always be winners at all time.