Note from the Editors: We in the B2B sales business love to learn new technology tools and techniques because it helps us get more done in less time. The essence of Joanne’s article is that it’s you as a human that matters and no amount of technology or technique will replace it in selling.

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Stop Typing, Start Talking: 3 Ways to Succeed in Sales 2.0 Technology helps salespeople do many things more efficiently, but to seal the deal, we must put away our toys and have a grown-up conversation. By Joanne S. Black

The digital world opens up many new opportunities for salespeople, but it also threatens personal connections. Even with whisper-light computing power and immediate, 140-character Twitter posts, people still buy from people, not from technology.

Email, CRM, social networking, marketing automation, and other technological developments certainly have their place in business today. But technology will never replace the power of an in-person connection.

The most valuable tool in your sales toolbox is still you!

Experts have been quick to tell us that technology changes everything— that Sales 2.0 is an entirely new way of working. And I was one of the first to scream: “No, no, no!”

Technology has certainly changed how we gather information about prospects. It’s also changed how they gather information about our companies and what they expect from salespeople. And let’s face it: If you’re not active on social media, you’re about five steps behind.

However, our smartest, tried-and-true business development, lead generation, deal-closing tool is and has always been ourselves. And that’s not going to change anytime soon—if ever.

So what does it take for salespeople to succeed in today’s technology driven world?

1. Know What Buyer 2.0 Needs From You. Buyer 2.0 is very good at homework. Before making contact with us, our customers have checked us out, compared pricing, read an eBook or two, listened to a webinar, and/or viewed a demo. They’ve also researched what people are saying about us and our competition. Technology has certainly changed the dynamic of our client relationships. But information isn’t knowledge. Knowledge comes with wisdom, experience, and a clear vision of the big picture—which is exactly what great salespeople have to offer.

2. Put the “Social” Back in Social Media Social selling enables us to more effectively gather information, conduct research, and identify connections. And it definitely impacts the early stages of our sales processes, enabling us to quickly assess a buyer’s qualifications and spend less time on unproductive prospecting. However, it has not changed the way we talk to prospects, how buyers relate to us, or why they choose us over our competition. Top salespeople understand that selling requires building strong relationships with clients—relationships based on mutual respect and trust. And with few exceptions, this cannot be done online.

3. Never Underestimate the Value of Relationships. What’s the best way to reach, communicate with, develop, and sell to your key audience? If you think back over your most successful business deals, I bet face-to-face, person-to-person, high-touch communication — a phone call, a video conference, or (best of all) an in-person meeting — has accelerated your sales process time and time again.

What will give you an edge is a well-connected, well-nurtured network of people who are ready and willing to refer you. It’s our job to make connections that matter. And those connections are cemented with phone calls or in-person meetings, not with status updates.

That’s right — it’s still people, not technology, that seal the deal.

Yes, it’s important to have an online presence. Leverage social media and explore the plethora of technology tools available to make your sales process more efficient. But don’t fool yourself into thinking these give you a predictable, guaranteed edge, because your competitors are using the same tools.

Recognize when it’s time to log off the computer and pick up the phone. At the end of the day, it’s not social intelligence we need. Relationship intelligence seals the deal. So the next time you connect with a prospect really connect.

Pick up the damn phone and have a real conversation.

About Joanne S Black:
Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling—the only businessdevelopment strategy proven to convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. She is a member of the National Speakers Association and author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust and Pick Up the Damn Phone!: How People, Not Technology, Seal the Deal.

To learn more, visit: www.NoMoreColdCalling.com

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