Sales Tips: Is Your Sales Approach or Process Ready for the Next 10 Years?

By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®

Evolve Over TimeEveryone is busy and overworked. Fixing flat tires while slowing down rather than stopping has become the norm. Whether 2017 turns out to be a good or bad year, most CRO’s will re-set to zero on January 1st and strive to make higher 2018 quotas. Little time will be spent considering changes in how revenue is generated. There just isn’t time.

Companies operating in this manner will continue to run the risk of drifting further away from how buyers want to buy. 

? In many markets vendors and sellers providing the best buying experiences are winning the lion’s share of opportunities.

Change is stressful but maintaining the status quo can be disastrous. 

The first CCS® client I worked with in 2002 was a reseller of printers and copiers. They struggled to sell what procurement and IT viewed as commodities. The CEO realized changes had to be made and vendors that figured out how to address this issue would prosper. 

His sellers were asking IT or procurement if they needed printers or faxes. Most said no. Those that said yes usually asked for a quote on single device. Before making decisions he or she would get three or more quotes and give the incumbent a chance to meet or beat the lowest number. There were instances when hardware would be sold at a loss with hopes that maintenance revenue and consumables would ultimately make the sale profitable. Box-by-box transactions were steadily eroding margins.

I helped sellers realize it was necessary to sell outcomes to higher levels rather than products. Sellers were shown how to call at higher levels (often in finance) and ask: When was the last time anyone analyzed your overall print requirements with a clean sheet of paper?

Most companies had added printers on an ad hoc basis as they grew (applied Band-Aids). Without an overall enterprise strategy devices and workflows became sub-optimal as relates to cost, workflow and energy consumption. Reassessing print requirements often meant replacing all of the installed devices. Uncovering value by optimizing devices allowed salespeople to sell on value rather than price. Revenue and margins increased. 

I share this Success Story for several reasons:

  • Evaluating Sales ApproachConsider how your sales approaches have evolved over the last 20 years. How long has it been since taking a “clean sheet of paper” look at your revenue generation process that is the lifeblood of your organization?
  • Many Band-Aids have been applied because the primary impetus for change has come from buyers over the last two decades.
  • Sales organizations in “react mode” lag behind as the gap between how buyers want to buy and how sellers treat them widens.
  • Sales techniques that fail to evolve become sub-optimal.

Here are some of the challenges you face/have faced in the last two decades: 

  • Giving Marketing the responsibility for nurturing leads
  • Creating better buyer experiences during website visits
  • More closely aligning Sales and Marketing
  • Realizing sellers are being brought into buying cycles later than ever
  • Sellers contacting buyers who have already established their requirements
  • Self-appointed buyers doing product evaluations that can’t buy (don’t have budget)
  • Buyers wanting to be empowered to buy rather than be sold
  • Product Development trying to react to changing customer/market needs
  • Shorter development cycles make it difficult to have long term product advantages
  • Buyers viewing Marketing “push” strategies as attempts to force offerings upon them
  • An increasing percentage of opportunities in pipelines are buying rather than sales cycles
  • Low win rates when sellers are brought into opportunities

Given all these changes wouldn’t it be worth a fresh look at your markets and selling approaches? 

Vendors that align with buying behavior and continue to evolve their sales process have the unique opportunity of making the way they sell a sustainable competitive advantage.

last sales training workshop of 2017