Attention Sales Leaders: It’s Time For A New Verb

Attention Sales Leaders: It’s Time For A New Verb

Sales leadership has a verb problem.

They want their sales rep to “do” the wrong things.

I’ve heard it again and again in meetings to discuss new hires. When describing their ideal sales rep, they say they want people who can:

  • Hunt
  • Grind
  • Chase

Leadership says they want sales reps to be aggressive.

These verbs imply that your prospects must be tracked, tricked, and consumed.

While these verbs may have worked in the analog sales world, they do not fit the digital economy. Our buyers and the economy have changed, and it’s time for sales leadership to evolve the verbs they use to describe the ideal sales rep.

Sales Has a Bad Reputation

According to research by Hubspot, only 3% of people trust sales reps. This is only slightly better than the 2% of people who trust politicians…

Clearly, sales has a reputation problem.

But it should come as no surprise, as the tactics that traditional salespeople use are untrustworthy. The activities that sales leadership encourage are actively working against their buyers.

Starting with dishonest, cold outreach. We encourage our salespeople to try to interrupt their potential buyers and convince them to take a meeting. Calling on people’s cell phones at odd hours and using email subject lines like “Quick Question” to try and trick people into chatting with you.

Then there are the negotiation tricks. Instead of being confident in the value we provide for the price of our products/services, we play games with prices and make up discount schemes. With buy now or else language that would be better suited for a late-night infomercial than a professional B2B service.

And, of course, there are some sales reps that just straight-up lie. They say that their product can do things that it can’t, or they promise to meet unrealistic timelines to win a deal. They say things like an “upset customer is better than no customer.”

As sales leadership continues to seek to hire aggressive sales reps, they’ll continue to get the same results. More distrust. More unhappy customers. Less results in the digital world.

Buyers Demand Better Sales Reps

Our buyers are tired of playing sales games. And more importantly, they have more power in today’s digital world.

It used to be that sales reps could rely on information asymmetry to trick their customers. It’s easier to hunt your prey when you have a clear advantage over them in the relationship.

But the digital transformation of our economy has shifted the power dynamic:

  • Information is Accessible - Our buyers now have access to nearly unlimited information through online content. They can search, ask questions, and get answers to learn more about your industry and the products/services they are seeking to buy. They can do their own research and actively will.
  • Reviews Provide Social Proof - Online reviews and social media provide buyers with authentic feedback from other customers. People will read reviews about how your product works, the customer experience you provide, and how the sales process was conducted. Word gets around fast these days.
  • Global Economy Broadens Competition - Thanks to online commerce, many businesses are now competing across geographic markets. This increased competition makes it easier for buyers to be choosy about who they work with.

What does this all mean? The hunting, chasing, and grinding doesn’t work anymore.

Our buyers demand a better sales experience. If you can’t provide it, somebody else will.

They don’t have to buy from you. The world is global now. Information is everywhere. If your sales team is stuck in the old mindset, you should be prepared to lose market share to your competitors who are adapting.

A New Verb - Empower

It’s time for a new verb to describe sales.

Let’s replace the words like hunt, chase, and grind. We’re partnering with our customers, not attacking them.

It’s time to empower our customers.

The definition of the word “empower” is: to give power to (someone); to make (someone) stronger and more confident. The keywords here are “give” and “make.”

As sales reps, we need to focus on empowering our prospects. We need to GIVE more to them. We need to make them feel confident in the action they are taking to improve their business.

Empowering sales reps can curate information, consult one-on-one, and become trusted guides in the buying process.

These are not reps that hunt prey. Instead, these salespeople make a positive change in their customers’ lives.

Of course, you still want sales reps who are goal-oriented, and driven to be successful. It's just that their means of sales success are better suited to today's digital world.

Sales reps that empower are focused on helping as many customers as possible. They are educating, connecting, and consulting their way to record sales numbers.

For this week’s action items, I want you to change your verb. Let’s stop hunting and start empowering.

Here are three action items you can take:

  1. Change the Verb - Words matter. Start by changing the words you use. Set a new tone for your sales approach by discussing ways to empower your prospects, instead of hunting or chasing them.
  2. Hire and Coach Empowering Reps - Seek out people who can thrive in this new sales environment. Some great people avoid sales because they are not “hunters,” but they would be great in this empowering strategy. Hire and coach your team to focus on giving more, to get more (sales).
  3. Refine Your Strategy - Review your existing sales strategy. Are you hunting or empowering? Find ways you can start to empower your prospects across the sales funnel. Create educational content, grow your network, and sell a solution to your customer’s problems. A strategy shift takes time, but you can start to implement changes today.

Do you empower your prospects, or hunt them? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Also, if you’ve enjoyed this article, please forward it to your friends and colleagues. I appreciate you helping to grow the Sell with Social community!

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