Is Selling in Crisis?

Towelday-Innsbruck…or is it just me?

There is a well-understood phenomenon in population dynamics whereby a “natural population increase” occurs when the birth rate is higher than the death rate.

Around the world, death rates gradually decreased in the late 19th and the 20th centuries, with death rates in developing countries plummeting after World War II thanks to the spread of modern medicine that allowed control of infectious diseases.

In much of the developing world the decline in death rates preceded the decline in birth rates by 20 years or more, resulting in record-high rates of population growth of 3 percent or even 4 percent a year. (More info on the World Bank site here if you are particularly interested.)

At the moment, it feels like there is a similar sort of lag between the worlds of buying and selling.

Unless you have been asleep for the past few years, or you really don’t pay attention, you should have noticed that there has been a change in the way buyers buy.

This manifests itself in many different ways. Perhaps the most obvious I’ve seen is shown by a survey which has been widely quoted in a number of discussion groups on LinkedIn.

Our Survey Said…

The survey covered 20 telemarketing agencies, with an average of 73 seats each – so about 1,500 staff – and checked how many dials it took get through, or make contact. And the answers were…

In 2006…….4

In 2007……10

In 2008……18

In 2009……29

In 2010……41

These figures make for pretty depressing reading if you are the person whose job it is to make those calls! And yet, many managers insist that ‘hitting the telephone hard’ is still the way forward. “It worked for me so if it’s not working for you, you must be doing something wrong.”

Is any of this sounding familiar? So, what are you going to do about it?

As glib as it sounds, the answer is to change your selling (and your marketing) to align with the way your buyers buy.

Question, Questions, Always Questions

Presumably you have some existing customers and some of them are friendly? Talk to them – find out how they go about buying something like your offering.

  • How and where do they do their research?
  • What information are they looking for at this stage, at the next stage?
  • What is the next stage of their process?
  • And the stage after that
  • How do they decide what to buy?
  • Who takes that decision and who do they listen to internally before making the decision?

Once you have answers to these questions from a variety of your existing customers, you will have a good picture of how prospective customers will behave. Now you can start to remodel your sales and marketing processes so that you are approaching potential customers in the right way, in the right place, at the right time and with the right information.

Yes, I recognise that this is not easy. Who said life, particularly working life, had to be easy? But what’s the alternative? Work harder and harder to get smaller and smaller returns for your effort? Your choice.

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