When looking at how to sell their services, most entrepreneurs and business owners think that they either have to pound relentlessly or wait patiently. Either they send out tons of emails, spend lots of marketing dollars, and attend every networking event in their area in an attempt to find business, or they “work by word of mouth” and take a passive approach, hoping that an existing client will email with a hot lead for them.
And in both cases, they find themselves struggling.
These days the sales process has changed. Access to online content has put most of the buying process firmly in the hands of prospects and clients. Information asymmetry, where sellers had more access than their prospects to insight and information, is a thing of the past. If a potential client can get all the facts and figures they need from a 30-second Google search, why do they need you?
If you are relying on handing out information to “build value” for your customers, you will find yourself on the passing lane on the road to obsolescence. As it is, people don’t have the attention to spare to digest the information they have already. It’s hard for them to separate the useful facts from the overwhelming background noise. The last thing they need is more information.
This “information overwhelm” opens up an opportunity. There’s more information, which means that buying decisions are more complex. Sure, prospects have lots of information. On the other hand, they don’t necessarily know how to translate that information into something that’s usable and actionable.
But you do.
How to be a Sales Sherpa™ for your prospects
What customers are looking for more than ever is someone who can guide their decision-making. Someone who can help them digest and navigate the overwhelming amount of data they have. They need someone that they can trust to help them make the best use of their limited time and attention. They need a Sales Sherpa™ to guide them along the buying journey. That way they can use the information they have effectively and efficiently.
There are a few key principles to keep in mind if you want to be a Sales Sherpa for your prospects.
Share Content that Positions You
You don’t have to stop sharing information as a means of building value for prospects. But the information itself isn’t as important as the way it positions you in their minds. If you are consistently providing content around specific topics and areas of expertise, you position yourself as the go-to expert. Make sure your content is focused around the main solutions you provide for your customers.
The old sales adage about features and benefits is even more relevant today. Don’t get lost providing only facts and figures (features). You want to connect the dots in their mind and show them how the information makes their decision making better (benefits). When you share content, take the next step and tell your prospects what challenge that content can illuminate. Tell them what it means for them.
Stay in Front of Your Customer
I’m sure you know the value of staying in front of your potential clients, but do you actually take steps to ensure that you do? In the noisy world that we live in, it’s very easy for you to fall off of your prospects’ and clients’ radars. It’s critical that you use all of the tools available to stay top of mind. The human brain is wired to give more credence to the first answer it comes up with – so make sure you are at the top of the list for your clients.
Leverage Digital Tools
Technology provides a fantastic opportunity to stay in front of prospects efficiently. While digital platforms have created the information overwhelm affecting our customers, they also provide a tool that allows us to scale our reach. Regular use of social media platforms, newsletters, blogs, vlogs, and the like will keep you in the mix and ensure that you are the one they reach out to when they are ready. And by keeping up with advances in marketing automation and advanced analytics, you can ensure your outreach is even more effective.
Plant Seeds Today to Harvest Tomorrow
It’s more important than ever to play the long game. Trust and reputation are built over time. If you are only focused on short-term transactions you will lose out to competitors and technology that have commoditized the space. Become a farmer that is always planting seeds that can be harvested in the near and far future. Even putting 10-15% of your efforts into outreach and relationship-building that will grow your business long-term is a valuable investment.
The sales landscape has changed, and by changing with it, you ensure that you will survive and thrive. Find ways to become an invaluable guide for your prospects, and they will keep coming back to you for more.
A version of this article originally appeared at the Agency Management Institute blog. You can find it here.