By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®The Sales Training Company

Image courtesy of Suphakit73 at

holding-worldSomething within our DNA makes most of us resistant to change. I believe the term “becoming a dinosaur” is unfair because dinosaurs did nothing to cause their demise. Many companies choose to avoid changing. The larger they become the harder changes are to implement. In staying with the status quo a few different attitudes are taken: 

  • Denial is an approach analogous to an ostrich putting its head in the sand when facing dangerous or unpleasant situations.
  • Rationalization can find reasons why change isn’t necessary. Part of this is the lemming syndrome meaning other aren’t changing, so it doesn’t appear to be anything we should be concerned about. Similar to politicians smugly saying that Social Security will be solvent until 20xx, so why change it now
  • Just keep going. Everyone else is over-reacting so we’ll just stay the course.

The fear of change is most powerful when uncertainty looms. Fear becomes paralyzing when companies don’t know how to react to or resolve issues or circumstances they face. I think this is the primary reason companies have stonewalled the changes in buying behavior over the last 15 years. Even before these changes, few organizations had a good handle on how top-line revenues would be achieved. They have and continue to stick to old ways that even in the 90’s were decades old. How often is the adage: If it’s not broken why try to fix it? invoked when things were/are in fact broken? 

Several major shifts have occurred since Y2K. I challenge organizations to check the areas below where they feel proud about how they responded with changes to their sales approaches, techniques, or processes to align/address the following changes: 

o   Sellers are involved later in buying cycles than ever before.

o   Buyers don’t want sellers’ help when determining requirements. They fear being manipulated as they have been in the past.

o   Product cycles are shrinking to a point where long-term sustainable competitive advantages are fleeting or non-existent.

o   Line of business executives are making decisions with minimal/no IT involvement.

o   The number of people in buying committees is steadily increasing.

o   Buyers want to buy rather than be sold.

o   Marketing now owns most of the top of the funnel for lead generation.

o   Lower level buyers prefer DIY education about offerings and executives won’t sit still for product presentations and yet the same (or more) product training as ever is being done.

o   Self-appointed committees without executive sponsorship waste their own and sellers’ time because value is seldom established.

o   For large opportunities inbound website activities provide poor entry points.

o   Sales Enablement should help sellers make better calls.

I’m embarrassed about the tepid lip service most vendors have paid to the changing landscape. Those that stick to their old ways, unlike dinosaurs, will be accountable for their demise.