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Customers Are More Demanding Today, and Sales Happen in Real-Time

May 09, 2014
By Tracey E. Schelmetic - Telemarketing Software Contributor

While selling has never been an easy profession – successful sales methodologies have changed greatly over the years with new channels – these days, it’s more challenging than ever. Good salespeople connect with customers, earn their trust, deliver value to them and continue to nurture the relationship.

But while sales methods have changed in the twenty-first century, so too have customers. Generational differences are greater than ever, and in the case of business-to-business selling, the way companies buy has also changed radically, according to a recent article by Richard Ruff writing for Business2Community. While B-to-B may be very different than business-to-consumer selling, at the heart of it, you’re still dealing with people, and many companies have gotten closer with their budgets in recent years.

“What makes things more challenging is that customer expectations are a moving target. Looking at what customers expected five years ago versus today presents a dramatic contrast,” writes Ruff. “It is a fair statement that customer expectations have become more demanding. It is equally true that the consequences of failing to meet them have become more significant. Moving to a competitor is done for less reason and with greater ease than yesteryear.”

Customers today are used to getting what they want much faster, thanks to e-commerce, multichannel contact centers and the extended business hours many companies have had to adopt in order to adapt. Higher customer expectations mean the focus of sales calls and level of business conversations must be substantially different than in times past, according to Ruff.

Technology has helped some … it can ensure that customers aren’t falling through the cracks and sales personnel are fully versed in a customer’s history with the company before they call. Thanks to solutions such as customer relationship management (CRM) integrated with outbound telemarketing solutions and appointment setting, sales people are having to juggle fewer siloed apps in order to have the right tools to present a compelling value proposition.

Ruff recommends that business-to-business sales teams arm themselves with better information about the customer and be knowledgeable both about the company and the industry before they call. It also helps to “sell to a problem” the customer has rather than trying to sell to a theoretical need. Focusing on the customer’s buying process, not the vendor’s selling process is also a great foundation, and this can be greatly aided by modern selling solutions.

“Given all of the information available to customers, by the time salespeople are engaged in the customer’s buying process, customers are often half way through it,” writes Ruff. “Second, the buying process in major accounts is no longer linear – in fact, it often is redefined several times before a final decision is made. This means in 2014, the challenge is not about doing a better job learning and following your sales process; it will be about understanding how to adapt and redefine it in real-time.”

Selling in real-time is another area where technology can help, ensuring sales teams have the right information at the right time in the right place. Customers today are more sophisticated, have more information than ever available to them and will switch to a competitor after a relatively minor hiccup in the sales process. Don’t be the company that has a case of the hiccups. 

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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