Sales people are the ultimate change agents. Every single day they pick up new knowledge, fully immersed in their industry and sector they push the boundaries of what buyers can do and how buyers can use what they sell.
If you really want to know what’s going on in your industry, ask a professional sales person…they will be a font of knowledge, wisdom and insight.
Just as your industry will have changed over the last few years, so should the way your sales teams sell.
Show and tell is a thing of the past. Solution selling in its purest form is dead in many industries.
Sales people are less likely to try to sell you their solution in the first instance, and are more likely to want to engage you in a conversation about their competitors and the industry at large before they start talking about their product. Plus, don’t expect today’s sales person to agree with everything you say – they will challenge you, get you to explain your thinking, justify your conclusions and make sure you are totally comfortable and confident in your thinking to date.
For a sales person now – think industry specialist, industry expert, consultative adviser, trusted expert…take you pick…..so if you still have your sales team out there pitching prospects in a very generic manner with a price driven proposition and a ‘let’s sling mud at the wall’ volume driven approach then you may want to catch up with the real world of professional selling today.
Take a look at the following table – what column best describes your sales team’s behaviour?
|What Sales Used to Mean||What Sales Means Today|
|Static sales processes that went step by step through progressive stages towards a final close||Questioning, listening, challenging, listening, understanding and listening some more, helping the buyer to make the right choice, being a sounding board, a thought leader/thought sharer and aid to the prospect’s thinking|
|Only telling the buyer about your products/services/offerings and how good they are, totally subjective, pitching not understanding, selling your solution as the only solution, highly prescriptive||Firstly understanding what the buyer already knows, where their learning is from, what solutions they have bought into, what solutions they have rejected and why, what routes they would like to pursue, how and why, helping the buyer unlock any routes to the solution|
|Marketing and Sales as very separate functions||Very specific demand creation and demand generation, education and information, integrated sales and marketing, campaign driven solutions|
|Selling based on creating pain and solving the problem||Partnering with buyers to map solutions together, creating win/win arrangements, trusted adviser, expert adviser, sitting in the buyers chair|
|Transactional in the first instance, relations built post sale||Relations developed BEFORE the sale takes place, high level of non-transactional investment before the order is signed|
|Hit and run sales, volume driven||Careful prospect selection and maintaining/growing the relationship to the highest level, working select networks, building a reputable profile and presence|
|High level of diary planning – constrained to business hours||Holding meetings anywhere at any time, webex, webinar, video conferencing, Skype, face time – 24/7|
|Technology plays a very small part – mobile, laptop, CRM||Technology drives everything behind the interaction|
|Measure everything, lots of wasted time and effort on admin||Measure what matters, measure what had a direct impact on the buyer relationship and what creates positive results|
|Forecasts based on probability||Forecasts based on a highly predictable system that can be adjusted depending on the business needs|
|Flooding the pipeline with prospects||Careful prospect selection, grading, qualification, profiling and inclusion, gradually worked through the sales pipeline using pre-agreed criteria for movement and continued inclusion – removing chance in the sales forecast and building in certainty and consistency|
|Putting every prospect in the sales funnel – carrying lots of unqualified, poor level prospects through the sales process, scared of asking questions in case the prospect disqualifies themselves from inclusion||Carefully guiding a selection of well qualified prospects through the sales process, ongoing qualification and profiling, whilst working on volume demand generation strategies with the correct playgrounds|
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