Ranked among the top women speakers in business, sales keynote speaker Shawna Suckow uses her 20 years of expertise as a million-dollar B2B Buyer to help sales professionals and business leaders better engage today’s evolving customer. Suckow has worked with audiences across 5 continents to sharpen their networking skills, update their sales tactics, and modernize their marketing approaches. A Certified Meeting Professional, Suckow’s relevant takeaways and vibrant presentation style have earned her a place among Successful Meetings Magazine’s “25 Most Influential People in the Meetings Industry” for three consecutive years.
SPEAKING.COM: Your new book is called Don’t Become Extinct: Join the Sales Evolution. What do you believe the sales industry will look like 5 to 10 years from now?
SUCKOW: There’s a dramatic shift going on right now across almost every industry. Consumers have initiated a dramatic pull-back from traditional salespeople. Customers are seeking out ways to avoid contact with sales unless they simply can’t complete the transaction without them OR they have a trusted relationship with a particular salesperson.
SPEAKING.COM: What are the biggest changes in customer behavior that businesses need to address?
SUCKOW: Thanks to technology, we’ve all grown accustomed to shopping in our pajamas. We circumvent the traditional sales relationship more and more. Business need to address the compression in their sales funnels: customers don’t need sales pros to educate them anymore, because most everything about the product or service can be found online.
The sales cycle is also shortening, as buyers often enter it when they’ve already made a decision or at least narrowed down the field. Businesses therefore need to focus more resources on brand awareness, brand reputation, and sales relationship building.
SPEAKING.COM: What steps do sales professionals need to take in order to avoid extinction?
SUCKOW: The sales process is more about the relationship than ever before. Since an increasing number of transactions do not require salespeople, the only way they can survive is if the buyer WANTS them to be part of the transaction. Staying relevant is going to require loyal relationships with buyers, and adding value that the buyer can’t easily create on his own.
SPEAKING.COM: What are some effective ways to get prospects’ attention?
SUCKOW: Compiling Social Proof from other happy customers is critical. As consumers, we no longer trust what businesses say about themselves – we trust what our peers say instead. That’s why it’s so important for a sales professional to proactively and strategically collect Social Proof. I recommend gathering video endorsements or social media comments over all other types of Social Proof. Prospecting tools are extremely finicky right now, because what worked six months ago may no longer work today. That’s how rapidly these shifts are happening.
SPEAKING.COM: What are some useful technologies sales professionals aren’t taking advantage of?
SUCKOW: Face-to-face is so important in relationship building, but many sales professionals take an all-or-nothing approach. When you can’t get a customer to be with you in person, I recommend Skype or Zoom for a virtual appointment. I also highly recommend video email right now. Prospects ignore cold email, but when a video message comes into their inbox, it gets noticed.
SPEAKING.COM: How is an emphasis on authenticity changing the level of formality we use when conducting business?
SUCKOW: Our culture is becoming less formal as a whole, and the sales process is no different. It used to be that a sales professional started out in sales mode, and then after a certain period of comfort with a client, they could reveal their true personality. Modern buyers hate to be “sold at”, meaning that nowadays the reverse needs to happen: start out authentically and personally to build the foundation of a relationship and then move into sales mode.
SPEAKING.COM: You were a million-dollar B2B buyer for over 20 years. What made you shift your career towards helping and training salespeople?
SUCKOW: I grew tired of hearing fellow buyers complain about the sales process year after year, but they were never willing to help salespeople understand. I decided that by serving as the voice of buyers, I could help salespeople better understand buyer behavior and be more successful with less frustration.
SPEAKING.COM: Your philosophy is, “What are you waiting for? Take the risk or you will never know what could have been.” Could you give us an example of how you’ve applied this to your life?
SUCKOW: I’ve been an entrepreneur since age eight when I launched my first venture selling greeting cards door-to-door! I’ve had failures and successes, but I never would have known how great it is to be my own boss if I had never given it a shot. As an entrepreneur, you rarely have success your first time out. You have to be willing to try again.
To bring sales keynote speaker Shawna Suckow to your organization, please contact Michael Frick at: Mike@Speaking.com