Jonathan Farrington created Top Sales – Top Sales World, Top Sales Management, and Top Sales Awards – five years ago with a bold agenda. His idea was to “give back” by delivering and sustaining a huge sales performance resource, where sales leaders and salespeople could come to access the top brains in the sales space –without cost. On the fifth anniversary of Top Sales, we see that dream has materialized.
But for Jonathan, Top Sales has been far from a one way street. He described how he has been enriched by the collaboration it has afforded with colleagues globally. His initial reservations, about how the global sales community would respond to his initiative, were allayed when his e-mails to potential Top Sales Experts were met with enthusiasm and acceptance. Top Sales has proved to be a resource, not only for salespeople and their managers, but also for the experts themselves, giving them a way to connect and explore immediate and emerging sales challenges and share ideas and solutions and form enduring friendships.
The timing of Top Sales was opportune. Sales organizations are facing a changed and highly demanding buyer profile, diminished training budgets and, at the same time, the need to build salesforces with greater expertise. To respond to the new demands, many sales organizations direct their recruiting efforts to hiring experienced salespeople. Jonathan made a distinction between sales ‘experience’ and sales ‘expertise’. He sees Top Sales as a core resource to support salespeople in raising their game by understanding and adjusting to the changes and mastering the new sales world.
Jonathan’s outlined ideas for how Top Sales users can gain the most from the resources across roles:
- Go to Top Sales World for 15 minutes a day to learn from the 30 experts whether for immediate challenges and to take advantage of the broad in which they need help.
- Share your ideas by joining in the discussions. Ask questions. Establish your brand.
- Share relevant articles or thinking with clients.
For sales managers and sales leaders
- Direct salespeople to Top Sales World to take advantage of ideas, strategies, and solutions.
- Go to Top Sales Management and use resources such as the sales meeting content provided weekly.
For Sales Training Professionals
- Keep up to date on current issues and thinking.
- Read your colleagues’ writings.
- Share your thoughts and establish your brand.
- Provide material, ideas, resources, and the latest thinking to sales leaders.
Top Sales is Jonathan’s passion but his practice, JFA, is his oxygen. A team of twelve ‘best in class’ Associates will be joining Jonathan to create an expanded JFA. The new consulting resource is slated to launch on April 17th to bring consulting to global sales organizations. True to ideas he expresses in his blog about the future of sales training, the majority of client work will be delivered on-line. Jonathan is confident in the on-line strategy. Because he understood clients might be reluctant to leave the classroom, he conducted a three month trial, which his clients have bought into enthusiastically.
Jonathan is not one to skirt an issue. He is outspoken and clearly never satisfied with the status quo. His vision is to get a global sales conversation going. Top Sales World is a place where experts and practitioners meld and everyone learns. It reflects Jonathan’s take on life: “Never stop learning. If you do, it is time to pack up and go home.”
Looking three years to the future, he sees a very different sales landscape – one in which 80% of B2B sales will be on-line, leveraging the continuous advances in technology. What does that mean for salespeople? A large percentage of outside salespeople will go inside, and inside sales will be elevated more than a notch or two with skills in strategic conversations and negotiations. He sees all but the end of face to face selling, with a mere 5% of salespeople that possess an even wider commercial bandwidth that will be dedicated to in person meetings. That is a lot to think about.
Jonathan concluded with a note dear to my heart. Acknowledging all of the dramatic changes in the buyer profile, he does not see the value of the relationship as diminished. Of course, while the execution of the sales process must and is changing, and the level of value brought by the salesperson must be significantly higher, as he sees it, “Relationships are more important than ever – they are just much harder to earn.”