Sales and Serendipity

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How can I contact customers at the exact right time?

Solution Selling is evolving towards Social Selling and calling customers every 3 months is no longer the best way to maintain and nurture a relationship.  It is now necessary to engage with customers at a personal level. But how?

Selling Commodity Products

If I need something, I buy it. I might have to interact with a someone who facilitates the transaction, but I decide what I want, where and when to buy it. The role of the sales person is really to compete against others. There is little differentiation and generally the seller with the lower price wins.

Buyers go to sellers when they choose to make the transaction.

Not a good life for sellers.

Solution Selling

Marketers and Sellers have for a long time known that they can both (a) create subjective “wants” and differentiation that did not exist before by using media for influence and (b) identify and articulate problems and bring to market solutions that customers had not yet discovered. The best and faster sellers get to retain more of the solution value in the price.

Sellers actively start the engagement with buyers to pursue a transaction. Sellers are happier in this world.

But the world is changing.

Solution Co-creation

Information flows much faster and customers communicate with their peers, so it is less likely that vendors in isolation can figure the solution for problems emerging in the customer’s environment before customers do it themselves.

The process of identifying problems and creating a solution needs to be more interactive and collaborative between buyers and sellers. The winner is the seller that engages with the customer at the right time and then co-create the solution.

Sales depends a bit on serendipity. You cannot call every day, but you need to engage at the right time before your competitor does.

If your engagement process is to call every 3 months, you need to be lucky to call when your customer is recovering from a major IT failure or when your contact has just been promoted to a decision making position.

Social Selling

Enters Social Business. Because social channels can support interactions that are similar in protocol to conversations around a lunch table, they allow sellers to hear about problems early and without having to intrude and disrupt the life of customers.

You will know the customer IT infrastructure was down, because you will be monitoring their website and your contact’s Twitter account. You will see when she announces her job promotion in LinkedIn.

You can interact with customers when it makes business and social sense, not when your CRM tool reminds you to send a pre-configured “How are things going?” message.

In the Social Business era, Sales is not about serendipity or better selling skills. It is about personal engagement between sellers and buyers.

It is time to adapt. It is time to become aware of social media and look at how you customer relationship strategies and tools can leverage social technologies.

This article was originally written for and posted at

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