In February of 2006, Market-Partners Inc. CEO and founder, Martyn Lewis, published his first book, Sales Wise. This loose collection of 32 vignettes not only contains our first ever thoughts on the Customer Buying Journey, but also a great story about a flying Volvo I am becoming convinced only funny to salespeople. Now, before you add several copies to your Amazon cart, eager to hear punchlines about magic Swedish cars, this article is not meant to be a book recommendation. At best, Sales Wise today serves mostly as an interesting piece of corporate history given how much more we know about how customers buy and why they don’t.
Yes, 15 years can certainly feel like a lifetime ago, especially when I glanced at the old tag line in Chapter 13 – “Selling from the Inside-Out.” Yet despite how much has changed just within the last 12 months, that doesn’t mean we should throw out everything we know about the Buying Journey. In fact, it is quite the opposite.
Here are three Outside-In (or dare I say, Inside-Out) lessons from Sales Wise more relevant than ever.
1. www.com Is Not The Friend Of The Sales Professional
Back when Martyn was selling computer systems in the late 80s, his team had an important saying about the role of marketing material: “the selling stops when the brochure is delivered.” Sales Wise was quick to recontextualize this adage, highlighting the parallels between product pamphlets and your corporate web address.
With your URL closer to your fingertips than ever before, it is crucial to remind ourselves what websites are – excellent marketing tools. Referring someone to your domain during a conversation will not help you discover what your prospect is after, nor will it help you play a larger role in defining their job requirements. Anytime you hand a client your virtual “brochure” in a call, you are no longer managing the Buying Journey. You are actively relinquishing control over it.
2. Do You Know Why Someone Will Buy From You?
The transition to virtual has simultaneously made customers more and less accessible. On one hand, it is easier to put something on their calendar – despite your Zoom meeting being only one of a half-dozen they will attend this afternoon. It should be no surprise then that our latest research found buyers and key decision makers are looking for more focused content than previously thought.
The Sales Wise solution is simple. Imagine your prospect just called to say you lost the business – in sixty seconds, could you clearly express your value proposition in your customer’s words? If you can’t, then it’s time to condense, edit, and polish your value proposition around their Customer’s Buying Journey. As Martyn put succinctly in the book, “If you don’t know why your prospect would buy from you, don’t expect the prospect to know.”
3. Yours Sincerely
While the repetition of writing emails and LinkedIn messages definitely breeds efficiency, it can sometimes result in us sending something completely on autopilot. I have personally received a concerning number of copy and pasted communications still addressed to their original recipient. As much as I try to take these mistakes in stride, I cannot help but think of the old Sales Wise quote, “If it’s worth writing, it’s worth writing properly.”
Electronic communication seems more detached, but regardless of what closing salutation you use, you have stilled signed that message. Although our interviews show customers are expecting quicker communication in 2021 compared to other years, they also believe, “even an email is a request [their] time.” So before you press send, stretch your legs, refill your coffee, and reread your email one more time to make sure you are putting your best foot forward.
Want to know how customers are buying differently in the virtual world? Our latest course, Outside-In Selling: Mastering The Virtual Sale, is designed to help you increase your sales effectiveness, productivity, and closing ratio in the online space. View the offering and download the course description here.