The Future of Sales: Create a Community with a Sense of Belonging

by Colleen Francis

posted on 10-31-2016

Colleen Francis has been a successful sales leader for over 20 years. She is the author of Nonstop Sales Boom, and is recognized as a top tier sales consultant. She understands the challenges of selling in today’s market and that business leaders can no longer rely on approaches to sales based on techniques from decades ago. In this blog series she will share her experiences and predictions as she looks towards the evolving sales landscape.

To fully understand the future of work in sales, we must blow up assumptions about the marketplace that just aren’t true anymore. This includes one of the biggest ones: selling is about creating partnerships with your clients.

The truth is, buyers have been moving past partnerships for quite some time now. It began with a demand for customized, integrated solutions, a rallying-cry that had sellers scrambling to try and include buyers more tightly in the sales process. But, even then, this relationship treated the buyer as an outsider: someone or something to be managed. Nobody likes to feel that way.

Your customer wants to be treated as an insider.

When customers buy from you, they want more than a transactional relationship. They want to experience a sense of belonging: to be part of something that aligns with their values and expectations. The quality of that experience is just as important. Your best customers will pay premium prices for it, too, but only if what you offer is nothing short of platinum grade.

Build a community, define the experience

To succeed in sales now and the in the future, you must build a community that shapes the experience you want your customers to have every time they buy from you. That community has five defining traits:

Look at the marketplace today and you’ll see plenty of examples of companies who have built these kinds of communities. Visit an Apple Store on a Saturday morning: it’s usually the busiest place in the mall. Each location is packed with customers who treat it as a hub for creativity, to learn how to do new things with their devices and even just to hang out with people who think like them. Harley Davidson is another strong example of a company as community. Their customers are as devoted to shared values as they are to owning a motorcycle, and the proof is in the dizzying array of Harley-branded merchandise that customers devour with glee.****

How you, too, can make this happen

Building a community and a sense of belonging is critical for companies of all sizes who want to retain their clients and leverage them for higher profits. Even a website with an online forum, a members-only blog, a members-only LinkedIn group, or a well-executed e-newsletter can create that sense of community and of belonging. Proper execution is key.

So far in this series on the Future of Work in Sales, we’ve talked about creating teams and that sense of belonging required to create that insider experience that customers crave. Next up: we’re going to look at refocusing your insider selling skills—and why this is a must-do step moving forward.

Stay tuned for more insights from Colleen Francis. Interested in hearing about a specific topic? Share your own questions, concerns, and predictions in the comments.

Topics: Future of Work