SALES in 2019? Hopeless! Unless……

I know them well. These days, thousands of salesmen walk around thinking they can convert the prospect to a client with an average product presentation and some small talk. My most important message to them: become fast, smart and empathic or sell your house in advance. Rude? Perhaps, but also honest and realistic. The world around you is changing. Faster than you think and maybe faster than you can keep up. What is the truth today, might be less true tomorrow and the day after that, it might be a lie.

Cold acquisition does not exist anymore and is illegal in 2018.

Only the computer buying illiterate has to spend much time on getting product information. This buyer is becoming extinct, so the salesman who serves this buyer is also becoming extinct. Future clients have already visited your website; they know your organisation, know your references and they know you. LinkedIn and Facebook are true allies. First impression is made digitally and without a second chance, you are selected or not.

When the purchases change, sales change. The client is in the lead. Clients google all day and often know more about your products and organisation than you do. The sales process becomes a purchasing process and 60% is done digitally before it is your turn.

Is your company an interesting party? Then they will ask a price. When you are too expensive, you drop out beforehand.

As a salesman in 2020 there is only one solution. To be able to keep paying your mortgage, and not buy a car yourself, you have to be faster than future clients, be smarter, know better solutions and know the future client better than he/she does.

This asks for retraining. Focus on new competences. New knowledge, new sales techniques and a completely different mind-set. Marketing becomes important again, in case it focusses on the original term: Market Getting. In 2020 websites are found by search engines. Not being found means, not joining. Interaction on websites with clients is essential. It is the first possibility to be qualified as a supplier. Even better is proactive digital market development. You know your market and you challenge it before the question of purchase has originated. What do you mean: “Lead qualification”? The new game is supplier qualification!

When the interests of a future client are known, speed is demanded. A fast response and really getting in contact. As a salesman your first priority is to stop the search. The next step is to get around the table with your future client. Therefore you need 3 competences: speed, knowledge of your client’s business and being smart in the most distinguished way.

Speed: not to lose the momentum and stay ahead of your competition. Smart: in asking relevant open questions to find the underlying problem and smart in finding the value you can offer, to bring your client success. Added value is that thing with what a client can realise goals, different than the product he or she needs for it. A ship owner needs a radar to be allowed to sail, but his goal is to earn as much money with the most cargo and the highest uptime. A refinery needs elements during a stop, but wants to be “down” as short as possible. Eventually all clients want to realise dreams. The salesman who contributes most is the winner of the future.

In both cases speed and intelligence are desired and thus you have to aim for that as a salesman. Therefore, know who visits your website and act directly.

By asking smart latent, open and confronting painful questions, you trigger a client. The client is wondering: Am I looking for the right thing? Does this salesman know more than me? Am I not at risk with a decision made to quickly? In 2020, bad salesmen answer these questions digitally or by telephone. Good salesmen make an appointment and sit around the table. With a bit of luck, you are the first one! You now have the best chance! 80% of sales are given to that salesman who made a difference. The other 20% are messed up at the table.

The place of your sales meeting changes! The time of visiting clients is over. It must become more efficient and better. Video conferences are soon to be more accepted than the live ones! And only if you are prepared to give the clients the real experience, clients are willing to come to you.

Your job then doubles. Making the client aware of the pains he/she has and getting the trust that you are the right doctor. This is your moment! There are no other chances! You must be able to solve this active pain of your client; you must develop latent pain; you must stop the search engine and.. you must offer more value than a website or your competition.

The danger lurking close by: Disqualify your future clients. Therefore take your clients on a journey. In 2020, the art of sales is to be your client’s tour guide and let him/her enjoy an unfamiliar journey.

In your offer there are no words such as “I” and your company’s name. There will be “we”, “you” and your client’s name. The client sees his/her solution in your solution. The client recognises his/her dream and your contribution. Speed remains an important key. Give no reason to escape!

In 2020, many decisive processes will be digitalized. Discussing T&Cs happens out of the sales process, specifications are read by others.

Signatures are made digitally. In 2020, the successful salesman knows this, uses it and keeps control. The client is the tour guide, you are the driver. You make the stops.

Sending prepositions is deadly. It delays, you activate all search engines and, knowing how much digital information there is, there is a chance your offer will be lost. Prepositions are brought personally; you discuss them, answer questions and close. You do this personally with digital speed but with personal cleverness and empathy.

When you have successfully closed your first sale, the real sales challenge starts! Until now you have been successful in breaking a pattern and a qualification process of the purchasing party. Think you were now in the lead? Guess again.. Every step you followed, could have led to a new digital effort of the client. Nothing stopped the client from turning back on the search engine, different than 1) you were fast enough, 2) cleverer, 3) offered added value and 4) apparently got the trust.

Being smart, always be cleverer, always offer added value and always realising dreams, are your most important competences to become really successful. Respond as a first, take the right actions, ask open questions, develop latent pain and present to realise dreams are the most important skills. Hunters and Farmers do not exist anymore in 2020. The Farmer had become the Hunter. You get to sit a client’s table. Why? Because you ask questions and you trigger the client’s brain! Because you understand your client’s business and think about it. Because you have proven to offer added value! The trap? Weaken!

Staying connected with your new clients is the biggest chance for salesmen in 2020. Think up before the client’s question comes up. Get in contact

before getting contacted. No regular contact means starting your client’s search engine! For every salesman it is then hoped that competition is still asleep and a new generation of salesmen has not been educated yet. An education which will look completely different.

Oscar Aantjes