The enterprise sales rep, as we know them, is dying a quick death. That doesn’t mean that enterprise selling is over by any means. All organizations need software, on-premise and cloud, as much and even more than ever before. However, the game has changed. Even if a particular sales person has been a top 20 percent-er their whole career, they are at risk. The landscape has shifted significantly away from their (current) skill set.
If this sounds dire, it is, and here’s why… not to argue the actual number, but studies show that 65-69% of today’s prospects have completed their research before talking with with a sales person. In the old days sellers could influence and engage way earlier than they can now, meaning there’s little time left to be a trusted advisor or influencer related to an opportunity. And that window for influence is closing even further each day. Ask yourself, “How can you be successful when 69% becomes 85%?” Awake?
Are you dependent on your marketing department and others to help you develop your deals within that new landscape of research? If you’re still doing business today the way you did ten years ago, it’s time to reconsider the shift in the market that strongly favors the social (influence) seller over the traditional account rep. Your success and even your survival likely depend on changing the very fundamentals of how you work.
The Modern A Player
An effective social influence seller is what I call the “Modern A Player.” Modern A Players realize the shift and are busy branding themselves and their role in the company — and aren’t waiting for anyone else to deliver for them. They’re in control of their own destiny and they realize that today’s trust is individualized and that today’s networks are highly personal. They’re doing this through social platforms because they know that the heavy lifting has shifted from developing a deal from an early stage meeting (fast becoming extinct) to developing influence points that affect a deal long before their first face-to-face meeting. They know that social media affords a level of scale and reach that was never possible before, but is a requirement now.
The Modern A Player understands that the deal is now a nurturing process, where they need to till the “garden of influence” for those future moments when influence is needed. That influence can’t be created in the moment it is needed – it has to be there already, when it matters. This is a much bigger investment than traditional sales reps are used to and it exposes weakness in their strategies. This exponential trend that is moving away from traditional ways of selling.
The Network Exploded
The last thought is that sales reps have to leverage the “networks of their network”, or in other words the exponential power of networks. Social selling influences relationships only if they are based on value and the trust that you’ve built in branding of yourself. If you think about it, this isn’t unlike the way multi-level marketing has worked for years.
Today’s (old school) enterprise sales person may be on life support, but that doesn’t mean that enterprise selling itself is over. Not by a long shot! But, If this is you, stop and think about where and how your deals are actually being influenced. Build your network and put your personal perspective into the mix “now.” Get on the right side of 65-69% and start prospecting by influencing!
This is a guest post by Chad Garrett, Senior Director Global Sales at TIBCO Software. Chad is focused on transforming the way sales teams aid their clients in understanding their own positive business outcomes, technical requirements, and transformational needs.