After almost 20 years of experience in business and direct sales environments, I’ve seen repeatedly that a common theme in the business world today is that businesses try to replace the human component in sales with technology. While there’s validity in introducing technology into the sales process to help automate sales and increase consistency with the message you’re attempting to spread into the marketplace, there’s still a very special part of sales that remains unique to humans: A person usually must know you, like you or trust you in order to buy from you.
Things like artificial intelligence, search engine optimization, automatic dialers and digital marketing strategies like the sales funnel are simply tools to enhance what you’re already doing well in your business, and by themselves, they don’t necessarily build trust. These tools are not usually meant to replace your sales teams but rather to enhance them. Often in today’s business world, I’ve seen companies launch and focus solely on their product that they developed and almost completely disregard the sales process.
The real problem here can be a lack of training and sales skills. Most people have a very real fear of rejection and prefer to avoid any type of what they perceive to be human conflict, and this also goes for entrepreneurs and even CEOs. When they think of sales, they think of the annoying cold calls they receive directly to their mobile phones or the classic case of a car salesperson attempting to sell a car for too much money. As a result, many entrepreneurs prefer to hide behind their devices and technology for their sales results, and when their sales sputter, they’re left wondering what’s happening.
Unfortunately, technology alone doesn’t usually make sales. For a person to buy from you, they likely need to have an emotional connection with the product. Technology tools alone won’t build and cultivate relationships. They also likely won’t help you make someone feel good and emotionally connected with your product, and most importantly, these tools probably won’t teach you how to effectively and consultatively ask for the sale and close the deal.
By avoiding making cold calls or avoiding physically approaching a potential prospect altogether and instead using a device or a sales funnel to attempt to sell your product, what you’re really saying is that the product is more important than the sales process itself, and that simply isn’t true. For example, when you go to buy a vehicle, if the salesperson mistreats you or if the delivery process of that vehicle isn’t pleasurable, no matter how nice the vehicle may be, it will be tainted by a bad experience.
When a consumer goes to purchase a product, that purchase is important to them, and they have a few basic expectations of what should take place in the process:
• They want to be able to easily find the product they’re looking for.
• They want to be able to test or see a demonstration of the product.
• They want to purchase that product for what they think is an affordable price.
• They want assurance that they made a good purchase.
• They want to exit the transaction feeling great and emotionally connected with the product.
Often sales funnels attempt to duplicate this process. They start with some form of advertisement that catches your attention. It could be a paid ad, a blog post, a video or any form of online content built to gather attention. The next step is getting a prospect to click or engage with the ad. Next, they hit the landing page, which has some form of detailed sales script, otherwise known as a pitch. Finally, the funnel finishes with a call to action by asking for the sale, and that usually coincides with some form of perceived concession or discount for the customer.
But something different can happen when a potential customer reads a sales pitch on a landing page rather than having someone personally take the time to carefully walk them through the pros and cons of purchasing a product. The landing page may say all the right things to some potential customers, but it isn’t a person actually spending time with another person and showing them why the product makes sense for them. As such, the landing page can devalue potential customers. A landing page presumes to know their situation and the problem they’re trying to solve without ever interacting with them directly. You’re essentially telling the buyer that they’re not important enough to have direct contact with in order to answer their unique questions and concerns.
People want to be treated with care and like they matter. They want to be treated like they’re valuable. When you take the human component out of the sales process, it can not only cheapen your sales approach, but it also can cheapen your product and your company’s reputation. In my view, you’re essentially stating that you don’t care enough about your potential customer to get a live person on the phone or in front of them. The customer can feel this lack of concern for their well-being, and as a result, you can appear to be a company that’s only concerned about profit.
To be clear, you should automate some processes, create an amazing online experience, extensively market and advertise via social media and other online channels, and use tools like automatic dialers or AI for support. However, don’t forget what’s most important: the customer. Your company and your product are nothing without a buyer at the end of the sales process. You can very easily gain a competitive edge in today’s market by focusing on the human component of the sale. Find a nice hybrid model that uses today’s technology to accelerate growth, but stay focused on your customers by finding ways to put them first in the sales process.