Selling in the digital age has changed the way the sales professional approaches building their sales pipelines to meet their companyís forecast.

The modern sales professional must have a variety of skills from lead generation to closing sills. But, the sales professionals that are aligned with marketing to help prime the sales funnels are the real winners. 

The demand waterfall will determine what needs to be generated by marketing and by the sales reps.

The advancement in technology has propelled the structure of the business world and how it operates. In the digital age, the impact of technology has shifted the behavior of buyers, which has forced sales professionals to take a different approach in how they meet their goals.

Todayís sales professionals have diverse sales professional resume. And the sales professional salary comes in all favors and sales professional jobs are plentiful. 

So how much do professional sales representatives make is a common question I get. That depends. Sales professional certification and certification for sales professionals help separate them from the pack.

The days where the salesman was the single entry to product and service information are long gone. Now, they must acquire and maintain so much more than product knowledge to excel and become successful in todayís environment.

Selling in the digital age has changed the way the sales professional approaches building their sales pipelines. Click To Tweet

With online resources like blogs, customer reviews, video tutorials, our customers, and prospects have the ability and accessibility to get so much information before they ever contact a salesperson. 

Therefore, we can no longer identify as just a sales professional, but as a business professional as well. Within our new role as business professionals, we can add value to our customers and prospects and positively affect their business and our own as well.

You no longer need to be available to ďsellĒ and explain a product. Instead, you must take on somewhat of an advisory role. 

You must become a valuable resource beyond product knowledge so that you become the go-to source for your clients.

To become a business professional in your role there are several areas to be mastered on becoming the best you can be.

1. Network, network, network as a sales professional.  

Networking may not always be a priority for professionals but it is something that shouldnít be overlooked. 

Through networking, you can pitch yourself and your abilities to experts in related fields and build connections with them, thus expanding your professional network and opportunities for additional clientele. 

Opening your network to new people you meet through business, meetings, and friends gives you a wider range of opportunities, advice, and knowledge about different industries, employment and more.

Donít forget that in the digital age networking doesnít necessarily mean going to endless meet and greets after work. Instead, try networking through LinkedIn and other social media accounts.

Join industry groups online and make sure to insert yourself into the conversation. Reply to peopleís comments on your feed, comment on other colleaguesí posts, and like and share industry news. Becoming an active part of social media is a key factor in creating a big network in the modern world. 

2. Understand the industry that your prospects are in.

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Business acumen often begins with industry knowledge and expertise. What are the macroeconomic forces affecting the industry of your prospects? These industry forces can become major drivers of investment and challenge for companies.

Keeping up with industry trends, influencers, and thought leaders are critical to becoming a business asset to your customers and prospects.  

So, while your building your online presence (see tip number one), make sure to insert yourself into your clientsí world as well.

Through LinkedIn groups, you can stay informed on any major occurrences happening in your prospectsí field and impress them with your in-depth knowledge of their industry.

Knowing your prospectsí market thoroughly will give you the biggest advantage when building relationships with them, giving you a better understanding of what customers are looking for and asking for.

3. Offer yourself as a thought leader.  

Industry influencers are individuals who share insight within their area of expertise in an innovative way.  These leaders are respected, and see the value of their business and are perceived as thought leaders by customers and workers in the industry. 

Becoming a thought leader does not happen overnight, but setting a foundation and connecting with other professionals in the industry and working with mentors lays down the groundwork for gradually becoming a leader in your business.  

Itís important to strategize and refine your skills and expand your professional network consistently. 

Building your presence online through social media and blogging, attending networking events, creating valuable content through webinars and video tutorials, and guest blogging in popular industry blogs and online magazines all play a part in becoming a known and recognizable professional in the industry.

4. Maintain a positive mindset as a sales professional.  

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The business world can be tricky to navigate whether youíre a small business owner, entrepreneur, or influencer.  Keeping a positive mindset on obstacles, business deals, and sales performance goes a long way. 

Optimistic and positive thinkers have more energy and enthusiasm with the opportunities they are given and play an effective role in decision making.

5. Communicate with your customers.  

Consumers and prospects look to us for information and guidance for knowledge and assurance.† Whether establishing a presence on social media through social media marketing or through email, communicating with customers will establish a relationship between customer and professional.†

Sharing information or advice that will help the customer or provide them with resources on problems theyíre experiencing, will show them that you want to help them and builds your credibility as their go-to industry professional.

Marketing automation has made it easier than ever for the modern salesman to stay in constant contact with their customers. However, if using marketing automation, make sure your messages are personalized to each prospect.†

No one wants to feel as if they are talking to a computer. Take the time to develop valuable, customized email messages for your customers to continue to build their trust and your reputation. 

6. Know the ins and out of your companyís industry.

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By understanding your industry, you will also understand your competition and the alternatives that are available to your prospects. Market research in your industry and your top competitors will help position your offering in the eyes of the customer.

It is important to stay current on your own industry trends, changes, and events so that you can become a valued member and reliable resource for those hoping to join your industry.

To make sure youíre up-to-date on the latest news, try setting up Google Alerts for industry keywords.

This will help you remain on top of any breaking news, allowing you to share your thoughts with your online connections and prove your expertise. 

7. Recognize how your target customers measure their own business success.

Whether you call on a for-profit business, government entity, or a nonprofit, all organizations have a way to define and measure their success. For many organizations, especially commercial businesses, those measurements are often in financial terms. 

Not only is it important to understand the language of accounting, the language of business, it is also important to understand how that terminology applies to the companies you are calling upon. 

On the other hand, nonprofits put more value in building a community that will continuously support their efforts. 

If you expect to compete on value, you must be able to understand and articulate that value in the context of each company or organization that you sell to.

Business acumen is no longer optional for todayís sales professionals. You must elevate the pains and highlight the gains and you will win.

Itís Time to Meet Changing Expectations

The expectation for sales and business professionals from buyers, consumers and prospects continue to grow.  

Today professionals are expected to be informative and able to solve problems that affect the entire organization, provide guidance and insight on becoming more successful and accomplished within the business, and more. 

To increase their value, sales professionals should continually prove their credibility through business and industry knowledge.

This article was originally published in August 2013 but has been republished for new understanding and clarity.

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General FAQ’s

What is a sales professional?

A†sales professional†is someone who sells products or services to potential customers. They seek to solve prospects’ challenges through the products they sell. Great†sales professionals†will have active selling and communication skills.

What does a sales professional do?

Sales Representative Responsibilities:
These are a few of the essential activities that professional salespeople do to sell their products or services.
1. Research: The salesperson learns more about the lead or prospect.
2. Prospect and outreach: They reach out to the prospect via email, phone, visit, or social media.
3. Build rapport: Through their conversations, the sales rep builds trust with the prospect and asks questions about their goals and challenges.
4. Find a solution: The salesperson comes up with a custom solution to address the prospect’s needs.
5. Close the deal: If the prospect is interested in the solution, they’ll purchase the product or service with the help of the salesperson.

What is the average salary for a sales professional?

The average salary of professional sales ranges from floor retail at minimum wages to well over $500,000 per year from high-end professional enterprise sales.

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