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Yesterday I was asked at an Interactive Marketing event about the online vs offline selling experience.

I read Neil Rackham’s “Rethinking the Sales Force” recently. And I also had the privilege of having a half day session with him as part of the Advanced Business Program I’m doing at MIT in the US.

His book really clarified this question for me. So this is what I learned in Boston:

    • Do you understand how customers want to do business with you? Some want to transact and therefore doing business online will really work for them. Others want to include you as part of their organisation’s strategic development. Knowing allows you to tailor the selling experience to them.

In the new world, sales people have to create value during the sales process (it is not enough to just communicate value).

There must be a strategic importance of product/service to be able to really add value.

Value is a perception.

But is value something that a customer will pay for?

80% of 1,100 companies surveyed by Rackham said that they would have paid for a sales call that they received:

    • Where customers perceive value from sales people
    • Time-stamped information on their industry or competition
    • Customer advocate (the sales person will make it happen for me)
    • Problem-solving & customised solutions (this is the main area where we can affect the sale)
    • Change of strategic direction (this is great, but it is rare)

What customers DON’T want from sales people:

  • Getting a pitch
  • A talking brochure

People still won’t buy from people they don’t like. And many people like buying online because they are in control.

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