I read a quote from Graham Hawkins. I started, “Sales hasn’t changed…..” Those quotes suck me into reading further and Grahame made the point that sales has changed profoundly.
But I reflected, is this true?
I know that buying and buyers have changed. It has become increasingly difficult to reach and engage them. They are incredibly busy doing their own jobs, and often are just trying to survive. Where sellers were important sources of information to buyers, they now have many, far better channels to get information on new solutions, capabilities, and so forth. Where sales would introduce buyers to users of their products, buyers can now engage in discussions with users on line.
How buyers buy has changed profoundly. More B2B decisions are consensus decisions from an ever increasing buying group. As a result, the buying process has become much more complex and prone to failure. Herding cats seems to be a much simpler task.
When we talk to buyers about sellers, we hear how little value they perceive from sellers. Sellers talk about what they want to talk about-their products, not what the buyer wants to talk about. They don’t understand the buyer or the buyer’s business. They repeat information that buyers can get more easily/accurately through other sources, they don’t know their products or the problems customers have.
Buyers act on this dissatisfaction, increasingly, by engaging sellers later and later in the buying process. And if possible, they eliminate sellers totally, favoring e-Procurement.
So buyers and buying has changed.
But has sales and selling changed?
Yes, we have great new technologies that enable us to spew ever increasing amounts of crap in higher volumes and higher velocities. And when these don’t produce results, our answer is to just double up on the volume and velocity or cast a much wider net to more people.
If we listen to customers (go back a couple of paragraphs) they are telling us that sales people haven’t changed. They still are pitching their products, they still don’t understand the customer, they still aren’t creating value.
Our customers are virtually shouting, “Sales hasn’t changed…..”
And that’s the problem.
Changing sales isn’t about changing the volume and velocity in which we inflict our product pitches on customers. It’s changing how we engage customers in ways that are relevant and create value to them now, and tomorrow.
Too many salespeople are increasingly unprepared to engage customers in meaningful and impactful ways. They are doing what they have always done, but producing fewer results.
With few exceptions, sales and selling haven’t changed.
And that’s the problem.