The development of technology through time has brought many changes to the sales industry. Whether you are looking at the past decade or even longer than that, new inventions will and were always going to change how people sell their products and services. Take the invention of modern transport for example, the car brought the introduction of an outside sales team and a whole new type of sales professional. Every year a new invention changes how salespeople work and how businesses target consumers. In more recent years however, the biggest change to the sales industry must surely have come from technology focussed around social media. I don’t think anybody can deny that we are now in a digital age, I read online recently that people now spend more time using computer technology than they spend time asleep. The rise of sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook have brought both opportunities and threats for business owners and sales professionals alike, whether you like social media tools or not they deserve to be treated with respect.
Here at Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment in 2014 we conducted one of the largest surveys of sales professionals ever commissioned. In relation to how sales professionals use social media for their work, the results were interesting. Our survey of 730 salespeople found that only 42% regularly and proactively use social media for lead generation. When you compare this with another statistic we found, that 47% of the sales professionals surveyed had secured sales from LinkedIn, it suggested that salespeople are missing an opportunity to increase their revenues from social media. You have to question that if social media can be used as a tool and a resource for selling, why are less than half of salespeople not using it regularly? Full details of our 2014 survey can be found here.
Hunters vs Farmers- or even Fisherman?
The old metaphor of farmer and hunter salespeople, where the hunters go out and win new business and the farmers cultivate existing business is becoming outdated in the digital age. We suggest that seeing a sales professional as a fisherman may now be more relevant. A fisherman throws ground bait in, waits for the right moment and then strikes. He needs to strike at the right time, too early or late and someone else gets the fish. The same adage can now be compared to the modern day salesprofessional, they have to be looking and waiting in the right places such as LinkedIn to know when their prospects are going to bite, then striking at exactly at the right time. With social media sites it’s possible to monitor prospects to see when they are showing interest in a product or service and that is the time to strike and secure a deal.
In the business-to-consumer industry many sales deals are starting without initial contact from the business who is actually selling the product or service. Businesses are doing their own research online and starting the selling process without you, because of this it’s crucial that your company is visible online and can be found. If you want to have your businesses products or services bought you have to be on the radar in the first place. Further to this, decision makers are reviewing companies or individuals credentials on sites such as LinkedIn before doing business with them, so whether you are reading this from a viewpoint of a sales professional or a business owner it’s vital to keep with the times and the digital age.