strategic2019As you can imagine, the digital disruption in sales stirs up existential fears, even among long-established distributors, since intelligent sales support in the form of software, apps and artificial intelligence are often not in place. The traditional methods of conducting sales negotiations need a fresh push as well this year, considering that analogue and digital communication will at best converge to a 360-degree dialogue competence. So, expect the winners of disruption in distribution to be companies and vendors that recognize this development potential and acquire new strategies.

The following 5 strategic sales tips might help to make 2019 your most successful year:

1. Generate new sales leads and customers with the right online offer. Around 30% of all contacts to potential new customers (leads) are already generated online and the number is steadily rising. To get to the bottom of the customer's wishes and thoughts with the help of a persona profile is today one of the most sought-after sales skills. The customer journey is based on this and shows at which important "touchpoints" the interested party can be enthused with digital or analogue added values and be won as a customer.

2. Skillfully combining online and offline sales activities. Customer acquisition is increasingly done through a mix of social selling, customer profiling and 360-degree dialogue skills. The conscious and skillful deployment of the various communication and acquisition channels, however, is still a challenge for many sellers. New and traditional sales channels need to be interlinked and managed together – that’s the challenge to tackle this year.

3. Emotional intelligence meets artificial intelligence. In digital competition, positive characteristics of the seller - e.g. enthusiasm, empathy and intuition - are advantageous sales skills. Qualities that can only be used by a human being so far when initiating a personal dialogue with the customer after the first social media or email contact. The decisive sales competence is here to accurately identify the (un)conscious motives of the customer with targeted filter questions, in order to bring them into agreement with the benefit of one's own performance. Of course, it's much faster to write an email or social media message than getting a decision maker on the phone. However, at some point in the evolving relationship, switching to direct, synchronous dialogue is much more effective. Otherwise, virtual contacts threaten to stay at exactly this stage and won’t become real customers.

4. Turn analogue customers into digital fans. Without doubt, virtual and personal contacts help consolidate existing business relationships, but in order to gain customers’ loyalty after their purchase, a company’s social media contacts as well as digital information and interaction offers come into play. Even if the stimulus to buy again often comes from skillful virtual relationship maintenance, it does not mean that salespeople should rely only on fully developed online marketing strategies. In most cases, only regular personal contacts make for a loyal customer relationship and turn customers into real fans who leave their mark on the internet - in the form of references, ratings and recommendations - and virtually create new customer growth and a well-filled sales pipeline.

5. With the right sales skills, the seller becomes a digital strategist. Well maintained customer data and a proper order history make the sales pitch much more effective. A good appointment preparation with the help of data analysis is then doing the trick. A customer development plan stored in the CRM system with clear goals and activities enables the sales representative to act as a forward-looking consultant to the customer - with positive effects on the relationship level and customer penetration. But not only the individual customer visit is more effective that way, structured area management, coupled with digital route planning, prevents time losses and increases the area penetration. Current market data, such as the regional distribution of purchasing power, helps to pinpoint the most interesting fields of activity in the sales region.

Generally admitted, it becomes clear that humans and technology have to complement perfectly in today’s business environment in order to succeed.

By Daniela La Marca