A Competency Model for Selling in the Digital Age

A Whole 'Nother Species- Homo Digitalis Salesus 

Anthropologists are looking carefully at signs of evolution, caused by changes to the fitness landscape brought about by the digital revolution. Right before our eyes, we can see a new species emerge. The new species of salesperson is outselling the older ones. Move over, Homo Salesii. Make room for the Homo Digitalis Salesus.

How may we greet our new sales overlords? By praising their qualities, of course. With digital disruption, there are new personal competencies B2B salespeople need in order to excel in this experimental future. Here's what we have so far.

1. Have Whiteboard, Will Sell: the ancient art of Storytelling

See Jane whiteboard. Jane emails like no robot could. Jane is authentic.

Ever since Steve Jobs walked on stage with his black turtleneck, the craft of storytelling has become mainstream. People don't just want the facts assembled into an excel sheet or bullets on a PowerPoint. They want the meaning behind the product. Storytelling brings back meaning into the conversation. Salespeople need the ability to stand up and go to a whiteboard, sketch out a story for the customer. No longer just talk about features and benefits-- you've got to talk about meaning as well. Jane has taken Simon Sinek's "Why" TED talk to heart.
Why, see Jane sell!
(Below: Have Whiteboard, Will Sell with Simon Sinek)

2. The Fruits of Passion Are Authentic

Salespeople need to be authentic, and they need to have passion. The sense of belief is important for two reasons. The more passion you infuse into your presentation, the more you can influence people by that, by the passion itself, and not just the words. As more millennials become decision makers and sellers, the need to believe is that much higher as a personality trait. So salespeople need to believe what they're doing. As company products evolve more quickly, it requires the ability to continuously build belief in the company's mission and products.

The more passion you have, the more it shows that you believe what you're doing. And if you don't believe your product, why bother to sell it to me? 

3. It's Not “I," It's “Us"...being Consultative

If the previous species of salesperson was Homo Salesii, the new species is Salesus. Where earlier the two "I"s only brought into focus the exaggerated self-orientation needed to sell, the new salesperson is very "Us" oriented. She wants both parties to win. She's consultative in a way that goes beyond just being able to solve problems. Being consultative means to be curious, be provocative, and being able to sell a vision. These are relatively new skills in the sales spectrum.

It’s the same with driving collaboration. As Growth Engines become more complex, internally within the company, too, the consultative salesperson shows the ability to network, team-solve and team-sell. 
As the "Economic Buyer" becomes completely extinct, you can't sell to the economic buyer anymore. You may have to sell to a whole committee, and they're not interested in buying a compromise. So, your salespeople have to be equipped to sell in a very collaborative situation. 

4. Mastering Greek, with Ethos, Pathos, and Logos (Value Articulation)

The importance of value articulation in the sales process has never been higher than it is now. Salespeople now need to be authentic, be able to tell a story, and they need be able to authenticate the story with data. That's Aristotle's three modes of persuasion. Ethos, pathos, and logos - the components of a good argument or value proposition, Salespeople need to be operating on all three levels. Logos shows the numbers, the data. Pathos is the emotional reason for making a change, the vision, the dream, the salesperson’s energy. Ethos is showing that you did your research. The salesperson understands the client industry and comes into the conversation with a voice of authority. These all play into the new sales process and competencies your salespeople need in the digital age.


5. Digital Selling- Thinks Like a Marketer, Tweets Like a Pro, Sells Like a Champ

Clients and sellers are co-evolving with the new technologies that are coming fast. Some of these look like marketing tools at the outset, but the new salesperson understands that there is no difference between selling and marketing. As the new language evolves, the tools are bleeding in. The new salesperson understands that customers want to lead the buying process, but still expect to speak with a human on human terms. They are prepared to connect digitally and still be human.

This evolution isn't complete. In fact, it has just begun. As the new digital natives take over the workforce, this new species will dominate the field of selling. The previous species is put on Extinction watch. Evolve, or perish.
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