The Rise of Preemptive Selling
In the now classic, sci-fi thriller, Minority Report, John Anderton (played by Tom Cruise) is in charge of predicting crimes before they occur. The year is 2054 A.D. With three gifted humans known as “Pre-Cogs” who have special powers to see into the future, Anderton does his best to stop criminals before they act – at least, until he himself is pegged as a potential perpetrator.
Now, rewind to 2013. Let’s watch as an emerging crop of super sellers takes on a new role as Preempts. Much like Cruise’s future crop, they are doing their best to predict the behavior of potential buyers, so that they can be there before the sale is made. In other words, to preemptively sell before their prospects reveal that they are ready to buy.
As the action unfolds, watch hoards of stealthy buyers avoid sellers and their traditional sales tactics altogether. Recoil as statisticians notes that roughly 60% of the buyer’s decision is made before they contact a seller. Instead, these underground buyers go about quietly gathering as much information as they can online and through their social networks – before surprising sellers late in the game. Armed with this information, the buyers take advantage of the unsuspecting sellers, all except the wise Preempts, who actually was there early on with the information that these buyers were collecting. Thanks to their diligent efforts, they are ready the instant the buyer appears and make the sale! The impressed buyer cuts a check, and the happy seller rides into the sunset. Fade to black.
The Rise of Preemptive Selling
While the scenario above may sound far-fetched, there are parts to the story that isn’t fiction. Research from Google titled, “The Digital Evolution in B2B Marketing” revealed that today’s customers are 57 percent through the sales process before engaging a sales representative (at any price point). And according to a 2012 study of C-level executives’ buying behavior by SiriusDecisions, the number one method reported for finding information before the sale was “Searching the Internet,” with a close second being “Asking my team or colleagues to come back with a series of options.”
For forward-thinking sellers, the current signs predict a radically different approach to selling today, not 40 years from now. It is no longer advantageous to ignore the Internet and social media when so many buyers are using these to find someone to solve a problem or fill a need.
Indeed, top sellers are already using the tools at their disposal to win deals against their offline counterparts. The Aberdeen Group released a study on social selling, in which they reported that sales reps who leveraged “social selling” in their sales process are 79% more likely to attain their quota then ones who don’t (15%). The study noted that the industry average is 43%. In a separate study done by The Aberdeen Group, they noted that organizations that have social intelligence initiatives are 21% more likely to attain revenue growth, while only 6% of organizations not using social intelligence will see growth.
Empowering Preemptive, Social Sellers Now
The core concepts behind social selling are gaining momentum. As a result, progressive organizations are embracing the idea and potential benefits of the connected workforce. They are training workers to use social media wisely to share and connect, both internally and externally. They are equipping their workforce with systems to monitor and track online conversations and potential sales “triggers” in real time. And, they are combining social media and other intelligence from the “Big Data” pool to more effectively preempt the sale.
As the concept of social selling evolves, the mandates for professional sellers will include:
- Being there before the sale starts through online information found on their websites, social media, and other areas
- Developing a solid plan on how to guide prospects to their solutions, without resorting to hard-sell, high-pressure tactics
- Brushing up on human-focused skills, such as demonstrating patience and empathy
- Anticipating customers’ needs and objections. and addressing both online and in-depth
- Planting seeds—giving potential buyers food for thought that guides their decision-making process
- Giving up control early in the sales process, but taking control of being influential early on
To learn more about how to use social media and other current technologies and techniques to preempt the sale, contact us at Sales Performance International. We’ve been waiting for you.