When I began selling in the 1970’s sales was all about prospecting, building relationships, presenting and closing. Four things. Consultative selling was in its infancy. Solution Selling hadn’t come along yet. Networking was done face to face. CRM didn’t exist. The internet wasn’t an idea yet, so there was no email or fax and personal computers were still a decade or more away.
Today? If you still do those four things you will become obsolete before 2020. While you must still get meetings scheduled, in a lot of companies that would be the responsibility of someone working the top of the funnel in an inside sales role. Presenting? Your prospects can go online and find what they need in a couple of clicks. If you make a presentation or do a demo you are being redundant. If you skip presenting, submit a quote or a proposal and attempt to close you jumped the gun and will not get the business.
If you drive a car that was built in 1980 it won’t have Bluetooth, anti-lock brakes, shoulder harnesses, leather seats, all-weather radials, all-wheel drive, rack and pinion steering, push-button windows, automatic 6 and 8 speed transmissions, and the only SUV would be a jeep. A car built in the 80’s cars won’t get the job done in 2018.
If that 80’s car won’t get the job done, why would anyone expect that selling the way it was done in the 80’s would still be effective?
Yet in company after company, that’s exactly what we see. And it’s not as simple as old-school manufacturers sell like the 80’s and cutting-edge technology companies sell like 2018. Uh-uh.
I work with a company that makes commercial lawn mower decks and they sell like it’s 2018. I also work with a SaaS company and they sell like it’s 1970, relying on demos and pitch decks. The mower company has tripled its sales in the last 5 years and revenue at the SaaS company is flat as a sheet of plywood.
Modern selling begins with a customized and optimized forward-looking, milestone-centric, customer focused, staged sales process with built-in scorecards all integrated into a powerful, salesperson-friendly, CRM application. Most companies didn’t have all of this even 5 years ago! A consultative methodology requiring active listening and questioning skills allows salespeople to uncover compelling reasons to buy and helps to differentiate themselves from everyone else. Relationships are built during these conversations. A value-based approach allows companies to sell when their prices are higher than the competition. A collaborative approach reinforces that salespeople are working with prospects to achieve a win-win outcome. Thorough qualifying assures salespeople that they aren’t wasting their time and provides parameters for an ideal cost-appropriate solution. Quotes and proposals are needs and cost appropriate and tied to compelling reasons to buy. Presentations and demos are as needed. Closing takes care of itself.
Modern selling has as much in common with its 1980’s parents as a 2018 Lexus has in common with a 1980 Toyota. People drove both models of cars and salespeople used both approaches to selling but that’s about all they have in common.
As this decade winds to a close, the world continues to change at unprecedented speeds and only the companies that continue to course-correct, stay ahead of the curve, committed to being the best and recognize that their revenue is driven by sales will continue to grow.
The US economy is on the verge of a boom and the rest of the world will likely follow and this is a great time to focus on selling. Money will be available, companies will invest, there will be tremendous competition fighting for that business and only the best sales forces will emerge victorious.
Will yours be among them?