2020 is the Year of Human-to-Human Connection

January 15, 2020

Editor’s Note: This guest post was contributed by Julie Thomas, CEO of ValueSelling Associates.

Have you seen this infographic? Each year, the MarTech conference updates its marketing technology landscape “supergraphic and this year it includes 7,040 marketing technology (martech) solutions! Yet, even with all of these martech solutions — which are designed to automate, accelerate and amplify selling efforts — some companies are not getting the sales results they expect.

In the conversations I have with Chief Sales Officers, the topic often turns to new technologies and if these solutions can help companies achieve their revenue numbers. Lately, I’ve heard there is a realization that technology certainly has a role, but at the end of the day, it’s really about the people and how they communicate. The most effective technologies enable your sales teams to be more human and make more human connections. If you are not getting the sales results you anticipate, then the problem may lie not in the technology, but in an area you may not be considering—communication.

2020 is the year of the human-to-human connection. We need to get back to basics and acknowledge that sales is a communication process and communication is a basic human experience. Communication is about listening, understanding, relating, and engaging. Mastering these communications skills is required more than ever in an increasingly technology-enabled sales environment.

As you budget and plan for the New Year, I encourage you to prioritize teaching your sales team how to up-level their communication skills.

Ask Informed Questions

A primary objective with any sales conversation is to gain knowledge and understanding of the prospect’s business objectives and pain points. To gain this insight, your sales team needs to do its homework to get a firm grasp on the prospect’s industry and specific business issues. By asking probing questions, your sales reps will expand on the prospect’s view of a business problem or bring other issues to the surface. This will enable your team to discover the prospect’s challenges and how your solutions satisfy their business issues.

To help you prepare a variety of probing, open-ended and confirming questions to uncover the prospect’s business issues, read my LinkedIn Sales Blog titled, “Not Getting the Right Response? Maybe You’re Asking the Wrong Questions.”

Employ Empathy

Top sales performers know how to engage and demonstrate empathy with someone’s burdensome business issue. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another person’s situation and perceive things from their perspective. It’s not just about imagining how someone is feeling, but having some knowledge of their situation and what they are trying to achieve. Without empathy, we can’t fully understand the problems prospects might be facing in relation to our product. 

Empathizing with prospects is helpful to sales professionals because determining where prospects have problems is the most obvious path to close a sale. Listening and showing that you honestly care about a customer’s business builds a rapport and the human-to-human connection.

Many of today’s younger salespeople would rather text a prospect then call them on the phone or sit in a meeting and look them in the eye. This generation especially needs to learn how to employ empathy effectively to build credibility and connections with customers.

Elevate the Conversation

One of the keys to value-based selling is elevating conversations with buyers from focusing strictly on the technical problem your product or service solves, to the business issues of the buyer’s organization.

Sometimes we confuse the deliverables of what we do with the value that we provide. To make the human-to-human connection, salespeople can shape their company’s unique value proposition into a selling value proposition that more easily expresses the relevant value of the product or service they are selling to the individual buyer. Think of your company’s value proposition as the macro promise to your universe of customers, while the selling value proposition is helping Joe in Cincinnati. The selling value proposition helps the buyer at an individual level measure the value of your product and justify making the purchase.

With the pervasiveness of technology, buyers typically get much further down the decision-making path before ever speaking with a salesperson. However, buyers can’t learn everything digitally. When they do need to interact with salespeople make sure your team has the communication skills they need to successfully ask the right questions, empathize with prospects, and elevate the conversation. The end result of a stronger human-to-human connection is closing bigger deals faster and increasing revenue.

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