I’m not talking about your father's salesperson, as they say. It’s a new world, and the modern salesperson has to keep up or get run over; that’s just that way it is. I was talking to a young salesperson the other day, and the first thing that struck me was his confidence. This guy acted like he knew what he was doing, and after spending only an hour with him, I could tell that he does. That hour spent with this young man made me realize that the world really has changed, and these changes have completely affected the way a modern salesperson must operate to be successful.
If you are over fifty—which, by the way, is about 25 years older than the salesperson I just mentioned—you can forget the golf, long dinners, little gifts like coffee cups and pens, and all of that rigamarole because it just doesn’t work anymore. The new world of business has no time or inclination to spend hours on a golf course or at a long, boring dinner, nor does it have a use for your trinkets; none of these have any appeal to today’s customers.
And, unless you’re hanging around with people even older than you, it’s not cool or funny to say that you don’t believe in “Facepage,” “tweetering,” or “Linkedering.” If you ever want to sell another thing, stop using these terms; they’re not funny, they and make you sound old and uniformed. And please stop talking about millennials, whether you are putting them down or think you are your generation’s “millennial whisperer.”
Got that? Good. Now, let’s talk about five steps that every great, modern-day salesperson—from age 24 to 74—should be doing to be successful today.
1. Learn About Today’s Available Tools
From Salesforce software to texting and social media—such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and especially LinkedIn—stay updated on all of these tools, and learn how to use them to your advantage, constantly, consistently, and professionally.
2. Learn How to Use These Tools
For the computer nerds out there, please use Constant Contact and other similar tools; it’s the best overall newsletter software, period. Don’t go out of your way to find some obscure program that no one is using just to prove your “techy-ness.”
3. Use These Tools Every Day
All of these social media tools have a purpose and function that will help you be a better salesperson.
LinkedIn is great for research of all kinds, including:
- Searching for and targeting companies that need your products
- Finding the right people to talk to at those companies
Connecting with those people to help you “warm up” cold calls
- Posting useful information about your company and capabilities to your connections to the point where you can become an industry influencer for your specific products and the industry in general
Instagram is great for showing quick flashes of your capabilities, such as a photo of a 28-layer blind and buried via board you built in 48 hours. That’s impressive!
Use Twitter to constantly share your messages and get them in front of the right audience with links that move your audience to your website or blog.
If you’re not texting, you are truly out of it; it is the best way to reach your customers quickly, efficiently, and non-intrusively. According to one study I recently read, the chances of getting an answer back from a text are at least 10 times higher than getting an answer to a phone call. Start texting now!
Create your own newsletters through Constant Contact and develop a permission marketing plan, including a newsletter strategy that will get your message in front of the right customers at the right time. Read Seth Godin’s book Permission Marketing to learn everything you need to know about this. By using Constant Contact for your permission marketing newsletter, you will have the opportunity to send your message out regularly to willing readers, or as Seth calls them, your “tribe.”
4. Offer Your Customer Something Valuable
When you are talking to a customer, always make sure that you give them something of value that will make their job easier through vital information about your product or something related to a project they are currently working on, for instance.
5. Value Your Customer’s Precious Time
It’s a fast-moving world with no time to spare on chit-chat about the game last night or even leaving the office to get lunch somewhere. Learn what your customer does, how they spend their time, and then adapt yourself to their schedule. If they like to get a double espresso for lunch, go along with it; as the customer, you have to work with their schedule.
Overall, work closely on your partnerships with your customers. Use all of these aforementioned tools to enhance that partnership by providing your tribe of customers with a steady stream of valuable information about you and your company. Do it today!
It’s only common sense.
Dan Beaulieu is president of D.B. Management Group.