There is a lot going on in the world of professional selling right now; clearly sales 2.0, social selling, and the changes in how buyers buy are all enormously relevant and important. I just wrote a post on how I used LinkedIn to win a client (and I left out how a number of clients have found me on LinkedIn).
These trends are important. But they command an outsized portion of our attention. What lives under the trends, something the Toffler’s call deep fundamentals, are shifts that are far more important to your long-term success in sales.
The Fundamentals Underlying the Trends
Trends are important. I wouldn’t waste my time with social selling if it didn’t produce results commensurate with my investment of time and effort. But the trends aren’t an end in and of themselves. Instead, the trends are only useful if you understand the fundamentals of success that lie underneath them.
Here are a couple examples. The trends in ubiquitous communication devices have made it so the salesperson is always accessible to their client or dream client. Your clients can reach you by cellular phone, by email, by email on your cellular phone, by text message, or by a voicemail to your Google Voice account that is either forwarded to your phone or transcribed and emailed.
But this isn’t a deep fundamental. The deep fundamental trend underlying the need for this constant communication is the shift away from the idea that the salesperson’s job ends when the contract is signed and towards the salesperson being responsible for ensuring that the value that they sold is delivered—and their responsibility to own and manage that outcome.
Without the ability to own and manage the outcome, the ability to communicate is worthless to both the salesperson and their client.
Another important trend enabled by technology is the massive amount of information that buyers can learn about the salesperson and his company. This level of transparency is relatively new. Now more than ever, your reputation precedes you. You are a Google search away from being revealed for what you are.
Honesty, integrity, credibility, and trust have always been the currency that salespeople trade in. But the deeper fundamental is the shift towards embracing transparency and authenticity as an asset in business.
More Important Than The Tools, Techniques, or Tactics
Trends like social media, sales 2.0, and social selling will continue to dramatically change how we do business, and how we sell. But the underlying deep fundamentals are what are really important.
Much of what it takes to succeed in sales is timeless. The deep fundamental shifts are making the timeless principles more important and more critical to your ability to succeed, not less.
Trust will never be absent from selling. The master to key to sales effectiveness will always be self-discipline (in fact, the most successful people I know who use social media work harder than almost anyone else I know). Creating value will always be a critical component to capturing your dream clients, and that will never require less than your expertise, situational knowledge, and business acumen. These are the deep fundamental trends.
Mastery of Deep Fundamentals Must Be Gained First
Before the surface trends are useful to you, mastery of the deep fundamentals must come first. Mastery of the deep fundamentals is what will enable your effectiveness in utilizing the new trends to help you sell.
This has always been true. Using a CRM or SFA did nothing to make salespeople more effective at the point of contact with their prospects. If you were already effective, CRM and SFA gave you a powerful tool for managing your relationships and your sales process. They did nothing to make you more competent at diagnosis, but they helped you manage and apply what you discovered later in the process by giving you the ability capture, retain, and share information.
The ability to research your dream clients on the Internet did nothing to help you understand their business, unless and until you developed the business acumen necessary to take advantage of what the surface trend enabled.
The deeper fundamentals create the platform that enables you to capitalize on the surface trends, regardless of what comes next. And something will come next, and soon.
Think about all that has changed in sales over the last decade. Think about what has changed in the last two or three years. What are the real trends beneath the trends that we talk about and that command the headlines?
Think about the changes in your dream client expectations. What are the deep fundamental shifts that have occurred, and what direction do those trends point? What do these shifts mean for how we sell, how we create value?
Think about what has changed, and then think about what skills and attributes are really required to take advantage of these changes. What are the timeless principles that the surface trends are making more critical to your success in sales?