Death of a Salesman, Rise of an Expert
I went for a job interview a number of years ago, and was asked what it was that made me think I would be successful in this particular b2b role. I talked about how I had experience with assumptive one call close sales, but preferred the more relationship based approach that call center life would never afford. Thinking I was nailing it with this answer I went on to say “I’m a people person, and I find it easy to establish rapport and make friends quickly.” The interviewer stopped me right there and launched into a long rant about how “Relationship based selling is dead” and “no one wants to buy from their buddy anymore”, but rather “Consultative sales” was the new modus operandi.
In hindsight, this was another one of those “know how to speak the language” situations because I still believe that our definitions of the “divergent” terms would have been identical, but despite not getting the job and being bitter about it for a time, he was right about one thing and it stuck with me to this day.
“The man who makes an appearance in the business world, the man who creates personal interest, is the man who gets ahead. Be liked and you will never want.” – Willy Loman
During my 15 years as a professional trainer of inside sales people I was often wont to say “Every worthwhile sales training is really just the same pig, different lipstick, and dressed up in the terms from whatever book the CEO or VP of Sales read last month and decided was going to define their business (today)” IN the quote above, despite the antiquated inference that it “takes a man” to do any job, if we were to modernize this quote for today’s workforce, the message can still provide a glimpse into how sales is taught to this day. “Build Rapport, and Create Desire” are two quintessential stages to almost any sales curriculum. Whether it’s 7 steps, 12 steps, 432 steps, it’s all the same core structure, however there have been some evolutions to the purpose as society changes in order to remain effective.
Google “the oldest profession” and the answer you get may be considered NSFW to many, however, if we take that result and look at what it really is, it’s sales, just disguised in another way to let people not acknowledge that they are salespeople. Since that first transaction the profession of sales has adapted to match the needs of the customer/client; from travelling caravans of salespeople, to door to door salespeople, to inside salespeople once phones were in every home. In the days of the baby boomers being good at sales meant being good at “Relationship based sales” because that’s what the marketplace wanted. B2B sales people would go into offices and know everyone from the secretary to the CEO, take them out for drinks and learn about their families, and people liked to do business with people they were friendly with.
During this same era most Real Estate and Mortgage folks thrived off of referrals and past clients, and a large part of the job was maintaining those close personal relationships with the community so that each of them was the obvious choice. This was a time of community, the world was big, but your hometown was comfortable and small, people shopped at the local grocers, and went to the local hardware store when they needed a nail.
During these times the world moved a lot slower in most places, and while going to the local hardware store meant having to hang out and talk to the guys who worked there for a while, people had time for that. So maybe you went to get a nail, but Bob at the store knew your house, and when you told him about your project he was able to make some recommendations of some other tools that you were going to need to make the job easier, and people appreciated that level of relationship so they kept coming back.
With the acceleration of technology over the years came an increase in the amount of unsolicited interruptions to the daily routine. The world got smaller as access to information got easier, and our tolerance for pleasantries began to shrivel. If you survey the general public today on where they go to buy a nail, most don’t say a local hardware store. Society today prefers to be left alone when it comes to sales people. We walk into a department store and the greeter at the door asks if they can help us find anything, and what do we say? “No thanks, just looking” Even if we know what we want and have no clue where it is!!! When most people need a nail these days they go to Amazon or Home Depot where they can get in, get out, and hopefully not have to talk to anyone. We are a society on the move, and we don’t have time for long conversations with people we seek transactional relationships with by and large.
Ok, but buying a house is the biggest decision most people will ever make in their life, so wouldn’t they want to work with someone In Mortgage & Real Estate they like and trust? The good news is, the answer to that question is Absolutely! The bad news is that while most people like and trust almost all the members of their wedding party, they tend to know too much about them to ask any of them to help buy a house! People want to go to an expert in the industry, and someone who they can get mad at if things go sideways. The average consumer doesn’t know what that looks like on their own, so they go where they go for all their information… starting to make sense yet?
The modern day Realtor or Mortgage Lender’s job is not to be best friends with their sphere of influence, or show up to past clients’ kids’ baseball games. The job of the modern day professional is to be THE expert in their field, and make sure that the people in their market know it when they need to, so that you are the obvious choice. Staying top of mind as the expert in your market is far more valuable than being on a first name basis with 1-200 of your “closest friends”
The first step to evolving your strategy is recognizing the most basic truth: There is a finite number of people who own homes in your area. Read that again because it’s important. Whatever that number is, it’s finite. Meaning, it’s possible to have contact info on them all, and more importantly, meaning once you do, you don’t need to buy leads from other people! Lead Gen companies want you to think they are creating opportunity out of thin air, but the fact of the matter is that people don’t buy because some slick talking agent showed up at their door, or the world’s best ISA called them, they do it because something in their life is making them move. Revaluate’s Reveal platform uses their own data streams generated by going about their daily routines to identify when these moments are coming, often before they’ve had the conscious thought By leveraging predictive analytics, and digital retargeted marketing you have everything you need to focus on getting the people in your market to see whatever message you want them to see BEFORE they get to one of the monster portals, and cut the competition off at the pass. From there you just need to make sure the message meets the moment. Position yourself as the expert in the market and provide consistent value, as well as a home search site that is robust and attractive. Opportunity is a byproduct of timing and accessibility. Leveraging technology the right way can allow you to provide both more efficiently in your market than the big guys who have to focus on the global approach. And remember, David didn’t beat Goliath by being stronger, he took advantage of accessibility to his weakness, and timing.