How The Modern Seller Makes Fans Of Modern Buyers, with Meridith Elliott Powell, Episode #136


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Many sales professionals have been in the selling game for years but can’t honestly be called modern sellers. Why is that? Because they are stuck in old habits, old methods, and worse—old mindsets that don’t fit the digital selling era we’ve entered. There is a lot to learn, even for experienced sellers. On this episode of the #ModernSelling podcast I dig into what it takes to become a modern selling machine, with my friend Meridith ElliottPowell.

If you want to hear from an old-school seller who’s truly adapted and embraced the modern selling environment successfully, Meridith is that person. She’s not only adapted, she’s excelled, and for one reason: She’s learned how to make the most of today’s rapidly changing business climate to turn it to her strategic advantage, and she helps companies and sales teams do the same. She drops so many value bombs on this episode we could have kept talking for hours. Be sure you join us!

Sales Has Changed For One Primary Reason: The Buyer Is In Control

Today, we can sit in our homes and buy, buy, buy until we have everything we need. Amazon and other online portals make it possible, with free shipping included. Even more to the point, we have the opportunity to check out companies, products, and salespeople independently without them even knowing about it. When and if we (the buyer) ever connect with a salesperson, WE are the one with the advantage because we know almost everything about them (the seller) and they know very little about us.

Now, flip the script. YOU are the seller. You are the one who starts the conversation with a potential buyer at a disadvantage. That is the modern selling environment. Rather than bemoan the fact, we need to learn how to work within it so that we can help buyers. Meridith says that true modern sellers believe they are more important than ever because they are the piece of the sales puzzle that infuses the process with the emotional intelligence and empathy that builds trust. So don’t let the fact that the buyer is in control deter you. You STILL have something extremely valuable that they need—the human touch.

Modern Sellers Make Themselves Influencers In the Marketplace

When you’re trying to sell in a climate where buyers can research your products and services long before talking with you, sellers have to become intentional about what they will encounter during that search. You have to be out there where they can see you, hear about you, investigate you until they are satisfied with what you have to offer. When you've done it well, they will be willing to email or pick up the phone.

How do you accomplish that? By a multichannel approach that for one, builds on your company’s reputation and success. But you also want to be intentional about how you engage with existing customers. They are the ones who know you best and have personally experienced your solutions. When they are thrilled with what you do for them and how you care for them, they will be happy to recommend you when they meet others who are searching for what you offer. On this episode, Meridith tells an amazing story about how this can happen, so be sure you listen to hear it!

Many Sales Professionals Are Chasing The Wrong Targets

Meridith points out that though it’s always been a problem, sellers are STILL chasing the wrong leads. With the technology and tools available, we should be better than ever at qualifying leads and discerning what opportunities are the best use of our time and energy, but sadly, it’s not the case.

She points out that we can learn a valuable lesson from Amazon and Zappos. They got big by learning to do what she calls “niching to expand.” What does that mean? It means that when they began, they understood that many people were not thrilled about the idea of buying things online. So they didn't waste time chasing those people. They targeted and sold to those who they knew would be open to buying online. And they knew that if those people found them, bought from them, and were happy, then THEY would spread the word and sell everyone else. That’s exactly what happened.

If you are spending time pursuing leads that will be hard to close OR are closing deals with customers who will be hard to serve, you are taking your sales cycle backwards. You need to learn how to niche to expand, and Meridith explains how to do it on this episode.

Effective Sellers Follow Up Systematically Because They Understand This

It’s a reasonable conclusion that when you reach out to a prospect after a sales call and they don’t respond, you should back off. You don’t want to bother them, right? Though it sounds reasonable it’s exactly the wrong thing to do. Why? Because you’re interpreting their silence to mean something it likely doesn’t mean.

Most of the no-replies you get happen because you and your solutions WERE near the top of your prospect’s priorities, UNTIL they hung up the phone and encountered the urgent things of business and life. You haven’t given them enough reason (value) to push you back to the top of their priority list. So don’t stop following up, just do it differently, by personalizing, adding value, and giving a related call to action. Meridith has some great tips and insight about this, so be sure you listen to this episode!

Outline of This Episode
  • [2:30] Who is Meridith Elliot Powell - and why should you care?
  • [10:40] How supporting your team’s goals and fuel your own
  • [15:10] Hiring for personal vision and values
  • [18:42] How sales has changed in recent years
  • [26:04] Learning to niche in to grow big as sales professionals
  • [33:50] How to shorten the sales cycle for modern selling
  • [35:55] How the fail happens most often in the follow up
  • [43:14] Why today’s consumer (buyer) is in control - and how to manage that fact
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