What’s changed in the last 10 years in marketing and sales? Everything.
If you’d fallen asleep in the 90’s and awoke today you might not recognize the marketing and sales landscape. And it is surprising how many sales and marketing professionals are still stuck in the 90’s. After all, you may not be wearing that yellow tie or the Rachel Shag haircut, but in any group of executives there is always someone willing to suggest that all you need is a new brochure or some PR. Failure to understand the impact of recent changes leads to a lack of sales results. On the other hand, savvy sales and marketing professionals are responding to these changes with new tools and new approaches that are yielding outstanding returns.
Off the top of my head, here’s just a partial list of major changes:
- Maturity of SFA/CRM and database technology
- Growth of the internet
- The access to information and how buyers obtain it
- The way people buy
- The advent of Key Performance Indicators for sales and marketing
- The buying cycle
- Increased competition
- The economy, twice
- Social media
Just examining the buying cycle, let me use a two statistics from Marketing Experiments to illustrate how radically things have changed.
- 80% of buyers now say that they find their vendors and not the other way around.
- 80% of buyers who don’t buy from you today will buy a similar product or service from someone else within an 18 to 24 month window.
The first trend is the result of the internet. Before you even come into contact with them, buyers have developed knowledge of your products and services and are further along in the buying cycle. They’ve already looked at their needs, formed buying visions and compared alternative solutions before they contact you. What this means is that in order to be successful, businesses have to have a Net presence. Its not “rocket surgery,” the ideas of cold calling or shotgun marketing techniques are dead. More on this later.
Second, if you still think that when one buyer won’t buy, you can find another buyer through volume sales and marketing, you’re wasting your time. Ask yourself what you’d rather have; a) 50 prospects with whom you are familiar and who would be willing to have a conversation, or b) 5000 prospects who you don’t know. The concept of volume making up for quality in marketing and sales is called “scale-jacking”. It happens everywhere. For example, how often have you heard the following refrain? “If we could just get the emails of 1000 more prospects then we’d be able to generate more leads.” It’s not going to happen for a lot of reasons, for example, people don’t read things they don’t opt into. However, if you can have continued conversations over time with your fifty prospects until they enter a buying phase, then you will gain more sales results. Again, not “brain science”.
The question is: What are you doing to help your prospects find you, and what are you doing to continue to engage them?