Today I’m talking about sales, sales process and the sales environment and the business environment. Do we all think of it in certain ways as we’ve always experienced walking into stores, online even, walking into a car dealership? Things are changing very rapidly now and in the near future.
I want to go over a couple of the things that are changing, and have changed, recently. Really to my entire surprise is how fast those changes are about to take place. Now, it’s important, of course, that we understand and adapt to the changes that are already taking place. The changes that are in the near future are even more awesome.
The average consumer today researches his information to make a purchase. Over 50% of them do this before they even have any interaction with any sales associate. Now, think of that. That’s a whole lot of difference between what it was in the past, but it also means that the sales associate has a very different purpose today than in the past. In a couple of years, it’s expected to be over 80%. Are you ready?
The biggest thing this means is that the salespeople really need to be interacting with potential consumers before they ever become the consumer for your product or your company. That is, doing things on social media. In fact, even if it’s not the exact same customer, the understanding and what’s going on plus the idea that they may be captured within the sales research process, along with that more mobile devices today are used than desktops, and it’s expected to be 80% in the very near future.
93% of people doing research on mobile make a purchase. Think of that in terms of how important it is then to be on mobile, given it’s the dominant search criteria today, and that 93% of those people are going to make a purchase after doing that research. How do you become aware of their search and use it? First, how do you make sure that everything you have, your web site and everything else, is mobile-friendly? It’s a lot different than just making slight changes in the size and positioning of the interface.
Now, one key point to make is what should you do if you have sales associates, particularly if you’re in a store? You’ve got a store or storefront. For your sales associate, one of the best things you can do, make sure they have mobile devices with them. They can facilitate. Help the customer do research. Obviously, if you hand the customer something to do research with and talk to them about it, you have a much better chance of making that sale in your store than a competitor, providing you have a good story or a good store.
Now, with all the information, cloud-based and now we see artificial intelligence being used. Yes, today, artificial intelligence is already being used in many of the apps that you have on your phone. What does that mean? It means they’re adapting to your decisions and your process, the way you click and the things you do, such as your location. Yet, with all the data that’s being gathered right now, and tons of information and data being gathered, from everything that you visit, everything that you click, the searches you do, et cetera. How far will it go? Today, companies are using approximately 12% of that data so far. This is a huge set of business opportunities.
Now, you might think they are using so little because the data’s so overwhelming, but it’s not that. Some of the things that basically the technology is catching up with the data, but it’s catching up incredibly fast. I went just this past couple of days, to the Digital Summit in Philadelphia, and it was amazing, some of the things that were discussed there. They also had one of the sponsors was IBM’s Watson, and it was interesting to see that and how it’s related and how it’s actually being used by individual companies.
There were a whole bunch of other companies there too, to help and facilitate everything from marketing to social media. Now, sales is going to be very, very personal, even more personal than it was before, as they integrate some of that big data with the artificial intelligence. AI is going to have a great influence on the near term, but it also means you’ve got some business opportunities.
Think of it. There’s going to be need for independent marketing and sales companies with these tech capabilities. Why? Because every company is not going to be able to, nor have the skill set within it, so if you can have it it’s almost another avenue for agencies. Just like there are social media marketing agencies, media agencies, et cetera, in the very near future expect to see more sales agencies as sales and marketing opportunities integrating this massive amount of data with the ability to coalesce it very quickly and AI.
Sales is transforming then also to customer service and support for your individual company. Think in terms of customer nurturing. While some of this that I’m telling you right now sounds like it’s out in space someplace in way distant future, all of this so far is either already here or will be here within two years.
Think in terms that which is here already today. What happens? You do a search in Amazon or something for a particular product. Let’s say it’s a health food. All of a sudden you see this health food in almost every place you go as an advertisement. Why? You go there and there’s a pixel that’s picked up on the site as a cookie, and every place you go, Amazon is paying for ads that you get hit with all everywhere you go.
It doesn’t have to be a big company like Amazon. It can be a little one like me. Anybody can do it, and that’s what’s actually happening, so that you’re not only getting this from Amazon. It’s gotten through Facebook. It’s not only gotten on Facebook, but it comes where you go as you visit other sites. You go to something to look for a conference, et cetera, and you see the banner ad or the ad on the right side. Again, repeatedly shows you that same product that you had taken a look at on Amazon.
Now, let’s take a look at the integration of some of these things. Just like you get hit with those ads, think of all the data that’s there and the integration when they can eventually do so much more, with cloud-based technology, integrate the places you’ve visited, the research you’ve done, the products you’ve looked at, and the other characteristics they know about you from Facebook or other things. Your likes and dislikes can be used when you hit a web site, but can also in the near term even be hit when you go to a store. The information can be coalesced so that there’s more information about you than you ever thought that the sales associate might know.
Now, while that sounds a little far-fetched, think of it in these terms. Even as much as, oh, close to ten years ago now, certain contact management software at the bottom of the screen you could see all the person’s profiles before you made a call to them. You could see the profile that they had on Facebook or LinkedIn or anyplace else. How did that happen? There were APIs. There was linkages between that software and social networks.
Imagine, salespeople can know that information about you as they’re about to make a call. Now you get today’s technology and the ability to integrate that. Keep in mind, there’s so little really being used now, but it’s being researched and people are on a race to see who can use more of it better, faster.
What are some of the things you can and should do? First, what should you do today? First of all, you should be on all the social media channels. All the major ones, anyway. You certainly want to be on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube. Yes, I know, Twitter comes back and forth saying whether it’s relevant or not, but it is a way to contact and start conversations with almost anybody.
You leverage that with some efficient social media software that will help you post and keep track of things on an ongoing basis fairly quickly. Track and watch and stay in touch is the key. At the same time, use images or videos in your posts and try to make the images more than just a static image. Maybe there’s slight movement in it or something, a GIF.
Learn new techniques and tips on how to do this and what to do every week. Stay up-to-date on the things that are going on and the changes that are taking place. You can look at sites like Social Media Examiner. You can look at Mashable. Those are two … I’ll have the links in the notes, but those are two sites that’ll help you keep in touch, but don’t just rely on them. Keep on searching out for new ones.
Monitor your company and your own brand. You can do that with Google Alerts. Share ideas and tips and include those of others in your posts you have so that, in a sense, you become a go-to of ideas in your niche. Whatever your niche is, you want to be recognized in something where somebody can go and get reliable information. You establish yourself as someplace where good information can be gotten.
It shouldn’t really be salesey. It should be things such that it’s like, as I’ve said earlier, customer service, customer support. Be the go-to company. Be the go-to person. That’s the way changes are occurring in sales today Keep in mind it is happening very rapidly and just think of all the information that’s out there today. Yes, you know it is being gathered, but it’s not being used efficiently yet!
Well, the technology and the cloud-based technology, along with artificial intelligence, is making that very accessible very, very soon. We’re looking in literally a couple of years as opposed to five or ten that I might have thought earlier the sales process will drastically change.