Having undertaken quite a few successful sales turnarounds over the last few years, it’s interesting to reflect upon how times have changed.
Historically, 10 years ago or so, most turnarounds were due to inefficiencies and overspend and few were due to a drastic change in market conditions. Roll on 10 years and I am seeing, in the main, a vast number of companies that are struggling (not failing…yet) due to lack of strategy and competitive advantage….whilst these organisations are working very hard, holding their ground financially they are certainly not moving forward….and are at risk of slipping backwards in the near future.
Times have changed and the speed of change has definitely increased. Technology has made today’s new idea, tomorrows one liner in the history books. Innovation and change are the order of the day and that is here to stay.
Which causes me to ask:
How is your business responding?
How is your sales team responding?
There are lots of articles flying about at the moment heralding the death of solution selling (Harvard Business Review asked ‘is Solution Selling Dead?) whilst Dixon and Adamson sing about the age of the Challenger Sale….who is right?
I suspect they all are…to a degree.
Customers and prospects self diagnose these days and certainly they will have a very good idea about what they want before the sale person gets involved.
The sales person that spend time talking to the prospect about their motivation to change can be wasting their time in some instances. Take it as read that if you are sat in front of a prospect and that prospect has been properly and fully qualified, then they are ready to consider changing…..
Other sales evangelists in the public arena will talk about what ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ sales people do, and they all make for interesting reading, especially when considering that the difference usually boils down to doing two or three key things differently.
So what to do for the best….
The bad news is there is no set structured panacea for increasing sales performance….the good news is there is no set structured panacea for increasing sales performance…
Yes, I know, that doesn’t help you does it?
Here’s my take on the situation:
Be the best. Be the best YOUR organisation can be….and that is the key I think. Decide what you will be known for and be known as the best.
Get fully up to speed on what your competitors are offering – know their products/services and promotions better than they do….then find something about what you do that makes you better and talk about it – tell everybody and anyone who can listen…tell a good story
Never NEVER NEVER NEVER (I said NEVER, in case you missed it) sell on price…..sad, steep, slippy, and mucky slope, and easy to fall down, and almost impossible to climb back up
Listen, and then listen some more. I had the unhappy privilege of having to call around to get a quote for quite a complex business problem and solution (yes, I already knew what I wanted by the time I picked the phone up) no-one listened, not one single person listened to what I wanted and why I had concluded that’s what I wanted. All bar one told me I had got it wrong and I should be looking for something else, before realising that their suggestion wouldn’t fit the solution I needed…..LISTEN!!! One mouth, two ears…you’ve all heard that before.
Which leads to the next point, by all means test the prospects understanding and boundaries around their thinking to see if all bases have been covered, but do it respectfully and wilth a ‘seek to understand’ mindset and not a ‘I’m here to contradict your thinking’ mindset
Marry your thinking with the prospects….stop selling….yes, that’s it. STOP SELLING…you will either both win or both lose…so stop selling. You are partnering with your prospect…let them know that’s how you feel by showing them that you want this to work as much as they do…invest in the sales process, do your research, on them, their competitors, their industry sector, find out how your organisation has helped others with the same problem. offer to set up conference calls to get all parties involved…BE DIFFERENT, GET INVOLVED
(One of the most common things I see in failing sales teams is the Generic Sales Guy – why hasn’t someone done a sitcom about this guy – and you thought The Office was cringe worthy…you ain’t seen nothing yet!!)
And finally, none of this matters if you don’t have a robust, responsive and current sales strategy to map out where you want to take your company, what products, what markets, what proposition and why…..and sales focus to deliver it.
Carol Griffiths – Director and Principal Consultant
Morton Kyle Limited
0779 002 1885