Having never worked in sales before, I’ve always sort of thought the process was somewhat interchangeable. Whether you were selling cars or homes or insurance, you’d use similar tactics to engage the customer, built a relationship, and keep the process moving forward until you closed the deal.
Well, on the most basic level, I wasn’t wrong, but now having been exposed to the software industry at ID Plans, I’ve learned that sales looks a bit different over here than it does in other places. And I’ve also seen how the software sales process is starting to influence other industries, including commercial real estate.
In this installment of Conversations from the Corner Office, ID Plans CRO Seth Garber and I sat down to discuss the methodologies involved in software sales and how those strategies are transforming how all types of products are being sold.
SG: Over time, software has become the hot spot. Software sales tend to be driven by an activity metric, either by a marketing process to generate leads or a cold calling process of some sort. Either way, at the end of the day, sales don’t start until you have a prospect. That prospect goes through a series of calls to create what I like to refer to as the discovery that allows us to move into different sales methodology, like requirement-based (which we use), SPIN methodology, or whatever a company uses. After that, it’s a close won or close lost, and there are lots of steps in between. All companies have different processes, but that’s essentially software sales as a whole, and technology allows these processes to move better, faster, and smarter.
SG: Nowadays, everyone in your company is required to sell in some capacity, to do something focused on revenue. For example, for a long time now, there’s been the concept of client success, a training department of your organization that’s dedicated to supporting your current customers. It’s beneficial to your clients, of course, but it’s also a revenue generator for your company because you can talk to the customer about new products and upgrades and ideally get them to buy during the call.
SG: You’re seeing a lot of disruptive tech companies entering markets that use the old relationship-based sales processes. You’re looking at companies who are allowing the customer to self-select their experience from a sales process based on whether they want to talk to someone, don’t want to talk to someone, etc.
SG: Well, say someone is going into a transaction where they’re looking to rent a space or purchase a building. That person is armed with the self-service option that could be driven by technology. If they opt to go look at the space, they can decide if they want to talk to the listing agent, an attorney, or even go directly to the owner. We’re allowing people to self-qualify as a lead. That lead then gets accepted by sales and then it goes through whatever process and methodology the company uses. In other words, sales aren’t necessarily based on simply building relationships anymore.
SG: I don’t think sales will go away in our lifetime. I mean, in certain industries we’ve seen it fade out a bit, but the concept of enterprise selling – I think there will be a requirement until companies get smarter and faster, but as of right now, salespeople will always be there. I’ve started to see a lot of AI technology to manage the sales process and a lot of it does work pretty well, but there is still value in commercial brokers during a transaction. You might see companies that only need small spaces become automated and with less broker interaction, but in major decisions like “Am I putting the right person in the right spot?”, the human component is critical. However, it must also be supported by data.
SG: The pace of engaging a lead is number-one most critical step. The faster engagement of a qualified lead is critical and there are a lot of companies that don’t do a good job of this. Then, a multilayer follow-up system needs to be implemented until an end is reached. It used to be call call call. Or call and email. A lot of companies still do that. The new process is marketing automation – calling, texting, social selling, and systems that lead score that person based on the interaction. I think if you can blend technology with that old-school mentality of customer service, you’ll be headed in the right direction as a salesperson.
How has technology affected your role as a salesperson? What tools would you like to implement to help you do your job better? Leave your comments below.
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