Written By: Jeb Blount
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On my final Coronavirus talk, I discuss what happens post-pandemic, the power of blending, and what you need to do right now to now to future-proof your sales career.
A year ago, I made the first coronavirus talk about outbound prospecting. No matter when, where, or how as a salesperson, your number one job is to go out and fill up the pipeline. A lot of people were asking questions at the outset of the coronavirus about whether or not they should prospect at all.
And if we take a look at the last year, the salespeople who kept the pipeline full, crushed it, and salespeople across all industries had the year of their life because they kept prospecting. Salespeople who were prospecting by foot and in-person moved to the telephone. People that were using the telephone found that because they were working at home and not driving as much, they could double up on their prospecting compared to the year before.
A year ago, prospecting consistently was the most important thing that you could do. And today, it is still the most important thing that you can do because the pipe is life. The number one reason why people fail in sales is that they fail to prospect. It’s just that simple.
We’ve been through a lot this year. But as we start looking to the future, as salespeople we’ve got to think, “How do we future-proof ourselves?”
The one thing that is absolutely true about the last year is that we compressed about 10 years’ worth of innovation into a period of about 12 months. Salespeople everywhere woke up to a new playing field.
This playing field was being driven primarily by buyers because buyers had changed. The new playing field was, “I’m not going in person, I’m going to be on a video. I’ve got to learn how to leverage an omnichannel approach for connecting with my customers and moving deals through my pipeline.”
What top sales professionals discovered over the last year is something called blending.
Blending is choosing the communication channel at any given point in the sales process that gives you the highest probability of achieving your sales outcome at the lowest cost of time, energy, and money. This is the formula for the future: choosing the communication channel that gives you the highest probability of getting the outcome that you desire, at any given place in the sales process, with any given customer, at the lowest cost of time, energy, and money.
Essentially, it’s efficiency + effectiveness = productivity. It’s that simple. So as you start thinking about future-proofing yourself, the number one thing you have to do is start mastering every single communication channel, whether it’s direct messaging, the phone, video, email, snail mail, you name it.
It’s the ability to use every possible way to connect with someone. Even with social media or smoke signals if you have to. Mastering all of those channels so that you gain a competitive edge. You can meet your buyers where they are and blend these different communication channels so that you can have more conversations with people.
If you just go back to what I said earlier, a year ago, I talked about prospecting because one of the truths about sales is that the more people you talk with, the more you’re going to sell. But because we have all these different channels to use, now it makes sense that we can talk to more people in less time, which puts more in the pipeline. That means that we’re going to sell a lot more in the long run.
This is future-proofing. Sadly, over the last year, I’ve noticed that there are two basic types of salespeople. There are wishbones and there are rainmakers. The wishbones are the folks that were hoping and wishing that things would go back to the way they were. There are people right now looking at the end of the pandemic, which is in front of us and it’s going to end very soon, who are saying, “I can just go back to the way I was before.”
But let me give you a couple of stats.
McKinsey did a study of B2B sales and they found that 77% of customers prefer virtual when they’re dealing with an existing vendor. 71% of buyers say that they prefer a virtual interaction at the top of the sales funnel when they’re evaluating a new vendor. 76% of buyers said that if they have a choice between a telephone call and a video call, they want a video call.
What buyers are telling us is that they like virtual because it’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s frictionless. And the salespeople who are adopting this new technology, they’re the ones that are owning the future.
The wishbones who wish things didn’t have to change, the wishbones who think maybe things will go back to the way they were are deluding themselves.
And in sales, you cannot be delusional and successful at the same time. To the wishbones who are hoping and wishing that they can go back to their comfort zones: it’s never going to go back, ever. We have changed forever. So in order to future-proof yourself, what you have to begin to do is invest and start learning.
I use a simple formula called Adopt, Adapt, Adept. Adopt means that I’m constantly looking for new technology, new ways to communicate, new ways to interact with my customers, new ways to sell, new ways to make myself better at the craft of selling.
And then I adapt those new ways to my way of going to market, to my customer base, to my industry. And so I don’t just take everything and say, “Well, there’s one black and white way of doing things.” Because there’s not, right? Sales is about probabilities.
I want to choose things and use things that give me the highest probability in any given situation. So I adapt it to my particular way of doing things. And then I practice and practice and practice until I become adept at it.
That’s what rainmakers do. Rainmakers practice. They put it into practice and you know, they’re going to fail. That’s okay. You’re going to make a mistake here and there. That’s okay. They keep trying.
Wishbones? They try it once and it doesn’t work, then they just go back to the way things were before. The word of the day is future-proofing. Future-proof, yourself. This is what I believe. There has never been a better time ever in the history of the sales profession to be in the sales profession.
We have so many things in front of us and so many innovations that are coming our way. We have so many ways to connect with buyers. Salespeople who step into this future, step into this innovation, they’re going to own the world. They’re going to be the ones that are helping buyers and cashing huge commission checks.
They’re going to be the ones on the top of the ranking report at their company and their sales organization. Future-proofing is the word of the day.
So as a sales professional, right now, as we start looking toward the end of the pandemic, instead of looking backward, and thinking, “Maybe things will go back to the way they were,” I want you to think about moving forward.
And I want you to think about the explosion of innovation that is going to be coming your way, the digital transformation that is going to be rolling over. It’s like a tsunami. And I want you to get on your surfboard and I want you to ride that wave because you, the sales professionals, the rainmakers that adopt these new techniques, you’re the ones that will own the future.
And you are the ones that will take sales to a completely new level.
Jeb Blount is one of the most sought-after and transformative speakers in the world…
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