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Has Sales really changed? It depends on who you ask. Millennials and younger generations of sales leaders might say no, because they don’t know any different. But ask the veteran sales leaders and their answer will undoubtedly be “yes”.

Yes, Sales has changed. In the old days, radio ads, telemarketing, and television ads used to tell our customers what they needed, and why our products and services were the answers to their problems. Our salespeople used to serve as gatekeepers to information, providing it only to those who bought into our company.

Now, buyers are armed with more information than ever before, making the traditional gatekeeping sales rep a thing of the past. How can modern sales leaders hope to compete in this complexing buying environment?

With a modern approach to selling that puts the customer first.

Since the advent of the Internet, the balance of power has shifted to the customer, and now we answer to them. The information so readily available through a simple Google search has changed the game, and our Sales teams need to adapt to that change, if they haven’t already.

But don’t worry—though this seems to be a win for customers, and a loss for our businesses, it’s actually a win-win for both parties.

Some Stats On the Evolution of Sales 

Before we get too far into our discussion about how Sales has changed, and how we can successfully adapt our Sales practices to meet the expectations of this new environment, let’s take a look at some game-changing statistics:

  • In a given month, an average 10.3 billion Google searches are made
  • 78% of US internet users research products and services before making a purchase
  • 52% of B2B buyers begin their buying process through research around their challenge
  • Buyers tend to be two-thirds to 90% of the way through the sales journey before making contact with a sales rep
  • Inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than traditional practices

And these are just a few of the stats available that indicate the new realities our Sales teams face. More than anything, these statistics highlight how easy it is for consumers to find information on just about anything, including of course your company’s products and services. This information is essentially why times have changed.

Traditional Sales vs. The Modern Sales Process

Not too long ago, things were different. Salespeople held the power, the information. Customers learned about their problems, and the solution to their problems, through salespeople who served as gatekeepers. Today, though, our customers are learning through Google searches. However, by positioning our companies as thought leaders, by providing information to website visitors without a sales pitch, customers can come to us for help.

In the old days, our Sales teams used direct mail, telemarketing, advertising, and always had our feet on the street, in order to get our name, and the names of our products and services, into our customers’ minds. But today, we use our website, targeted email campaigns, social media, white papers, company blogs, and all the other forms of content marketing to let customers find us. All of these assets are backed by analytics gained from marketing and sales automation technologies that allow us greater insights into the behaviors of our potential prospects. Armed with this data, Sales and Marketing works together to create quality, targeted content to engage with and educate our prospects.

Back then, the focus of the Sales process fell on our products and services, on our company, on how great we were, and how we were the right solution for you! But today, the focus falls on our customers, on our prospects, and what they need, what challenges they face, and how our products can help them. Not only that, the modern sales leader positions himself/herself as a trust advisor, an expert in the unique challenges that their prospects face.  This fundamental shift from “us” to “you” is why Sales has evolved from the “always be closing” model to the “always be helping” model. And this is why Sales and Marketing work closer together now than ever before, using inbound selling methods like content creation and targeted sales outreach to nurture prospects into leads and eventually customers.

How Sales Can Adapt By Working Closely With Marketing

The answer to being successful in this increasingly complex selling environment is for Sales to work closely with Marketing. This relationship is based on Service Level Agreements (SLAs) between both teams that provide clear definitions for Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), and the point at which these leads are transferred to Sales. This Smarketing relationship creates a mutual agreement towards a common goal, and eliminates the time old complaint that Marketing doesn’t provide quality leads and Sales doesn’t use their leads the right way.

Sales has changed, it’s not all hype. All of this inbound selling, inbound marketing, social selling, Smarketing, content marketing…it all supports the modern sales leader. It all works together to create the highest quality leads, so that neither Sales or Marketing wastes their time on lost causes. The modern world of Sales has the ability to shorten the sales cycle, create increased revenue opportunities, and enable long-term, sustainable growth…if used in the right way.

The hype is real. Find out why the BDR is at the center of the hype and a key asset to your growing Smarketing team.

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