Sales? Blehh! Often people think of sales as a job that doesn’t require any intellect — a task for the ones good with slick handedness. To others, it’s the province of characters in the realm of trickery and deceit.
In today’s day, everyone is a salesman. Whether you’re convincing your team to work on a side project or selling your company to a new recruit. Like it or not you are selling without the salesman label on you.
In an effort to understand how my own team thought about Sales I posed a question What are the first three words that come to mind when you think of sales? The top answers include money, sweet talker, and closer.
I’m convinced that in today's day and age a person with these traits cannot sell anything. In this article, I’m going to write about how sales strategies have changed over the years and how it can be done today. I’ll also write about how Wednesday sells software services to its customers.
What comes to mind when I think of a sales is a door to door salesperson selling an encyclopedia (I had a bunch of them visit me). Back in the day, these jobs were quite lucrative and people could make a decent wage going door to door.
Door to door sales in today’s day will probably not work. If you’ve ever opened your door to a salesperson you’ll notice they use tricks like “If you buy now I’ll give you a 10% discount” or “Buy three for the price of two”. In a time of information asymmetry, these tricks work. You do not know what else is available in a similar category and at what price. A bargain in front of you is tempting.
In fact, until very recently this is how second-hand cars were sold in India. The idea of buying a second-hand car with a verified sticker on it without knowing what was verified or who the owners were doesn’t mean you’re buying a good product. If you’ve ever visited a car lot you’ll notice how the prices start falling the minute you show some seriousness.
Information asymmetry brings in all sorts of headaches. If the seller knows more about the product than the buyer, the buyer will be suspicious. In this scenario, the buyer will always look for a deal because he doesn’t know what he’s buying. For any business that wants to compete in today's age, this isn’t ideal. Even if the business has great products to sell with the best quality in an age of information asymmetry the price will always be bargained upon.
Today a prospective buyer can learn about the product they want to buy well before even approaching a seller. They can read about the different alternatives, reviews, reviews of the seller, and much more. They have all the information they need at their fingertips.
Let’s take for example the second-hand car sales example. A buyer today can read about the different cars available in their price range, reviews about the car dealers on Facebook, get quotes online in just 15 minutes on any search engine. In fact, they now have the power to do more than that, if they’re unsatisfied with a product they can leave a negative review which can be detrimental for any business.
The era of information asymmetry is over. Buyers are no longer helpless victims of not knowing what else is available and who to buy from.
This change due to the ease of availability of information requires businesses to take a long term view and provide value to the customer by ensuring they know exactly what they are getting and at what price.
Being in the consulting business we talk to companies of all sizes for contracts to build their digital products. A typical sale for Wednesday would involve talking to multiple people from the customer’s team to ensure we can provide what they are looking for. In our case, this would be in the form of technological expertise, the ability to create designs that meet their customer needs, automation, and being aware of what tools and frameworks they should invest in for their business.
Sales for these consulting services have changed over the past decade. From a time where what sold was cheaper prices to now being in an era where customers want to talk to the people they are going to work with and know what they’re buying has been a move from asymmetry to symmetry.
The sales process that Wednesday follows is one that is based on the following tenants:
At Wednesday we want to make all our decisions and strategies public. We think this breaks the information asymmetry barrier that potential customers have. We want customers to know who they will work with and what processes our teams will follow.
The geeky bunch we are. We’ve taken this a step forward by even listing down the frameworks we have expertise in, with details about the libraries we use, testing practices all the way down to the naming conventions.
If you’re a company in the consulting space or even in the product space I highly encourage you to think about creating your company playbook. It is a document that will always change but it will help you stay on course and will over time allow you to attract the people you will enjoy working with.
Another interesting part of the Wednesday Sales process is to think about product development as building a set of modules. Having been in the Software Development space for a while we’ve seen the same things being repeated over a long period of time.
These can be simple things as a starter project that has all the libraries in place to build components with storybooks and tests or can be a networking library that can work with a GraphQL endpoint. We want to build things that are re-usable across use-cases.
Here are some examples of things we have built in the past:
Selling is human and I think the modern strategy to do sales has to revolve around the question “If the person agrees to buy will it make their life easy?”