Traditional sales can be boiled down to one objective: getting strangers to give you money for your product or service.
It is a process which can be standardized, tracked and measured, and as long as you can fog a mirror, you can execute on it. But this concept as a culture is also the source of most of the problems in the sales industry:
- Burnout: We know strangers don’t want to be cold-called, converted, handled, etc. and it feels icky to do. We do it anyway, because eventually it works. But it’s a shallow, dirty win and it creates a cognitive dissonance internally that wears us down. Only 20 percent or so of the people who go into real estate sales stay in the job for more than two years, and the ones that stay suffer elevated levels of mental illness, depression, divorce, and suicide.
- The Loyalty Gap: According to the National Association of Realtors, 74 percent of consumers would use us again but only 12 percent do, because we don’t stay in touch. We don’t stay in touch because we are afraid they don’t want to hear from us; the truth is most of them don’t care if they hear from us or not. We have been commoditized by our own commodity.
- Disrupters: Anything that can be standardized, tracked, and measured can be done by tech at scale. For companies and industries that still rely on cold lead conversion as their main source of customer acquisition, the sky is literally falling. We can’t compete here anymore.
Since the dawn of the internet, the consumer has been gaining more and more power over the sales and marketing process. We can no longer keep secrets from them, they won’t be lied to, they won’t be controlled, and to a great extent, they won’t even be advertised to. The people are making the rules now and if we (the brands, companies, and industries) want to survive we need to play by them.
- Make the customer the hero. From Donald Miller’s “Building a Story Brand,” “Positioning the customer as the hero in the story is more than just good manners; it’s also good business.”
- Shift focus and resources from the pre-sale process to the post-sale process. Put less emphasis on working with strangers, more on working with friends (repeat customers and referrals/ customers as a sales force). Think birthday video messages, client events, VIP Facebook groups
- Get out from behind the curtain. Your customers want you to be human and accessible. This might be the most impactful move you can make.
In short, the objective of modern sales could be described as building and maintaining meaningful relationships with people whose problems can be solved with your product or service. It’s messy, slow to get started and it takes things like courage and patience to implement. However, if you refocus all of your grind to this effort, you will build a sustainable, resilient sales business. It will fuel you rather than drain you; once you’ve got it rolling, it actually gets easier to keep going. You will work over and over with people who are the best fit, and, to borrow a phrase from RateMyAgent, a company who is already here in their sales/marketing mindset, you will be undisruptable.
Katie Clancy of The Cape House Team at William Raveis built her award-winning brand from the ashes of the recession with virtually no money. Today she leads a $30 million real estate team, is a national industry speaker, co-hosts the “What’s Good Cape Cod” YouTube show, and hosts “The Happiest Person in Real Estate” Podcast. Katie lives in Dennis with her husband, daughters, and two rude little dogs.