Businesses struggling to be buyer-centric are being challenged and often deal with inconsistent revenue growth vs. the businesses that embrace digital strategies.
According to Liz J. Simpson, recognized by LinkedIn as one of the 15 sales influencers to follow. She has been featured in NBC, CBS, SXSW, 40 under 40, and as a HubSpot Inbound Fellow. Liz helps B2B clients close millions of dollars in new business through digital strategies, listen to Scale Your Sales Podcast.
During the pandemic, Liz has been focused on digital strategies from the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, which has only been about seven or eight years. When she started with digital transformation was that some innovative, forward-thinking companies wanted to get ahead of it, they saw it as a nicety a way to get an edge. Companies are seeing that it is a necessity right; it is mandatory now for them to adjust and adopt digital strategies quickly. Now that they have business development team members and sales team members who do not have the luxury of meeting face-to-face anymore. It has been the paradigm shift that has now created an influx of need for clients. So, in some respects, despite the many challenges that are enduring in these times. It has been an excellent opportunity for innovation because individuals who were stuck in the status quo and may not have been as open to new ways of growing business, says Liz. She found it has been a fun and dynamic time from the perspective of new ideas. There are no bad ideas. How can we better leverage digital? How can we better build relationships? Her business has just been trying to adjust to the demand despite all the lifestyle changes. It has been an exciting business time. I agree it is a hard sell. We will always do what we have always done because we think it is still going to work.
For most industries Liz has worked with, we have seen the decrease in performance with traditional methods for some time just that resistant to change there is a learning curve right. If you have been accustomed to selling in the same way for 10 or 20 years. Some have been resistant to just jumping in with both feet and so now has just been the perfect storm. They have been forced to jump in and see results. Like you, I get the most excited because the foundations are still the same right. If you do not have foundational selling practices skillset, role-playing buyer psychology, consultative skillset you are going to struggle regardless of what tactic we use. I am always the most excited about sales individuals who have the foundations perform well with traditional practices. Still, digital gives them a direct line to their buyers. It gives them ways to build thought leadership. When you have the foundations, and then you layer on a digital strategy, it only accelerates results.
Liz advises that most have not gone deep enough into their positioning strategy. Everything from what we consider simple questions, but they are the foundations that most skip over. Stating, you want to do common things, uncommonly well right. It is going back to your buyer personas, being noticeably clear about niching and structuring your buyer persona. Who are my different buyers, what is the problem that we solve, what is the status quo for my buyer? What is the business impact, what are the solutions that we create, what are the jobs to be done? What are the triggering events that create a need for our solution? Going back to those foundations, we know that over 67% of the buyer’s journey is done digitally. They are looking for messaging that resonates with them in their time of need, so that means we need to go back to marketing and sales need to be aligned. We need to look at are we doing the voice of the customer interviews, are we doing client validation interviews so that we are using the language that they use that they articulate that they’re searching in their time of need? We are making sure that our digital footprint mirrors that, so our messaging on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is one of the top five indexing sites, so regardless of if someone searches you, your LinkedIn profile is going to be one of the top results. Making sure your website mirrors that messaging, your white papers, your sales assets because to your point, the buyer self-educates. They control most of the buying process, so we must make sure that how we show up digitally mirrors what they are looking for in their time of need. Typically, when I am working with salespeople, the tactics are a dime a dozen right it is like a recipe directly you will get the result eventually. You can do LinkedIn messaging; you could do email prospecting; you can do face-to-face. My agency for years we were done for you prospecting, so she has done everything from mastering contact campaigns, LinkedIn messaging campaigns. Many different tactics will work, However, what is tried and true is whoever understands their buyer the best, whoever has the best messaging for their buyer that resonates, those are the individuals who typically see accelerated results. I think it is going back and putting yourself in the shoes of the buyer. Making sure you have sales teams doing buyers interviews with them. I think that is the pertinent piece if I were to say a second piece, then make sure your digital presence reflects that.
Sometimes there’s a bit of ego that comes with sales success, it’s just humble enough to ask questions and what I found as a consultant a benefit when I’m going into new industries is I’m asking what some may consider as simple apparent questions, but then the competitive advantage comes because I’m asking simple questions most aren’t.
This is quite topical with black lives matters and all the things that have happened not only in the UK but in the USA, what is your view? Liz says she is inspired by leaders who are striving to make sales more diverse and more inclusive. In her experience, in her corporate career was most of the times as a black woman whose melanin is popping, she always looked younger than her age. Liz has always been cognizant of the fact that most of the around her did not look like her. They did not share her map of the world. Liz shared a story on Cynthia Barnes, the founder of the women and sales organization, The National Association of Women Sales Professionals. The interesting dynamic for those in sales is that your job is to connect with our buyers and to bring in revenue. Liz has always felt wedged in the middle with situations with prospective buyers that might have been discriminatory or harassing in nature and the double-edged sword that if you bring it up and ring this bell. If you speak too much about the buyer challenges, then that is interrupted as you cannot convert buyers. It has been an interesting dynamic. Sales being in somewhat survival mode and not knowing that she had options. Liz said she spent most of her career assimilating, learning how to play the game, learning how to fit in and assimilate. Yet Liz is inspired because now she sees an increase. As an example, tech sales they are making outstanding salaries that excites her. Liz says she is bolder now, as an entrepreneur, so when she looks at individuals and corporates, Liz is encouraged. Although as an entrepreneur, Liz says she wears the hoops and feels more comfortable being authentic. I am excited we are moving forward in a way people can bring their full self to the workforce. In the USA, we know the decision-makers are becoming increasingly more diverse.
Liz tells me about the Big Money Movement that is focused on shattering the revenue disparity facing women. Liz became disillusioned for a while by the speed with which change was happening and so looked at economies and understood particularly in the USA, how small businesses drive economies. She saw that women in businesses average 67% less revenue than male-owned firms. When you look at the disparity for women who own businesses like black women in the USA average about $24000 a year versus white women-owned companies average over $211000 per year. If we level, just the parity within women in businesses that creates trillions of dollars in the USA economy. It creates hundreds of thousands of jobs. Liz said, when she speaks with most women entrepreneurs, there is a lack of a sales skillset right. There is an aversion to sales. She heard someone said if good people knew how to do good business, the world would be a better place. My thought was if I can empower women of colour to grow profitable, scalable companies. If I can help level the parity for women, then hopefully, as we see more diversity in business leadership, we will then by nature see more diverse. Liz believes that if we empower these women entrepreneurs, they will have the overflow to create social change and to create jobs for their communities.
Liz said, when she is speaking to women and, if there was ever a time that their natural skillset was more paramount in sales, it is now. Now that buyers can empower themselves and self-educate what they are looking at studies show that one of the top things a buyer an executive buyer is looking for its specialized expertise. Consultative skillsets advisory right empathy, those things that you talked about and those tend to be skillsets studies found more in a women’s natural skill set. The basics, done well still outperform, such as listening, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, empathy having the emotional intelligence. Where I see we can grow when I am working with most women are two areas, executive presence, and business acumen. Because what happens is negotiation always comes from understanding value. You must understand the business impact of what you do, both the tangible and intangible outcomes. Typically, when salespeople in general but with women, because we have an aversion to sales. The power of being in a sales role is you understand the business model of a business; you know where revenue comes from, you know where clients come from, so you essentially are the engine of the business right. As salespeople, often, we do not get credit for touching every division and understanding how business flows. The challenge with many women having an aversion to sales is that we miss the profit, which is what drives the business. Understanding where that profit comes from in the clients. The most significant opportunity has been helping to understand the business impact vis the business value that you bring. How it impacts the business for your clients; then taking up space and being comfortable with executive presence and being confident.
I asked Liz if she was on a desert island on your own what the one thing you would take with you is. An aeroplane to get off! I have got to move around in the world.
Then I asked who your hero or shero is? Liz answered her Mother grew up in the Jim crow Mississippi South. She lost her Mother by age two and her Father by age nine due to racism. She was raised by her grandparents and endured tremendous racism and discrimination. She is just fearless courageous strong bold and yet one of the most generous loving individuals, her circumstances never created a barrier where she could not love and listen and be helpful. Liz says she was raised by a woman who gave Liz all the mothering she could.