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Sales in a Changing World
This week as I was watching the final few days of the Olympic Games I started thinking how sales has changed in recent years. I cut my teeth knocking on doors and hard sell outbound calling which are styles of sales that no longer exist. Today we use terms such as top down selling, needs based selling, solution selling and other techniques.
But just like the Olympics where techniques change, science assists and new ways are found to create new world records, so is sales changing for the better.
This week I watched some of the cycling and saw the newish sport of BMX being included. It looked like good fun, but some of the purest where upset that some of the traditional cycling events were stopped for this new sport. But this demonstrates evolution in this code to find new, younger people who have a connection to the sport, but in a modern sense. Maybe fencing needs this type of evolution as well?
The Olympics is also about breaking world records such as the 800m event and the celebration of greatness just like Usain Bolt’s 100m & 200m wins. The ideal of trying to get better all the time.
Sales - Retail
Sales have some correlation to sport, the top performer is always experimenting, trying to find new ways to connect with customers to provide for their needs as well as making the sale.
The Harvard Business Review this month has focussed on sales and the evolution of B2B sales in this month’s edition.
As discussed in many of my hubs I used the Friedman Sales System which is a values based system of sales. This works really well in a retail/call centre environment as it gets the consultant very close to the customer and enables them to match products and services to their needs when the customer is in a buying mode. To support the sales staff a whole system of marketing support is required to create the environment for the customer to enquire about the product or service through targeted activity such as direct mail or mass market marketing such as TV, radio & press.
There is debate on whether you them ask your staff to sell from the top down (most expensive product first if it suits the customer needs) or needs based (selling the most relevant product first). This sometimes depend on the amount of product options. The other style is to sell the most basic product and then to add on extra features and benefits.
My preference is to match products and services to customer needs and then selling from the top down while cross and upselling to confirm the sale...almost the decathlon of the Sales Olympics!
Sales - B2B
In B2B the main style has been solution sales – finding out the customer’s needs and selling into the gap if and when the customer is ready to buy. According to Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon & Nicholas Toman in their article ‘The End of Solution Sales’ believe that this style is now not as effective as their new system. Insight selling proposes:
- Look for agile organisations that have new demands or are in a state of flux
- What needs to they have that they don’t know about yet that you can assist with
- Engage before they have understood the problem
- Offer provocative insights on how to resolve the issue with your products or services
- Coach the customer on how to buy and support them through the whole process
According to the authors this solution sales process is enabling high performing sales people to drive sales success in their study.
This new system suggests that salespeople need to continue to evolve, to became better and to try new techniques and processes constantly in order to deliver outcomes for not only their organisation, but for their customers!
The 2012 Olympics have had a number of highlights for me, but the most significant are those that have evolve to become better sportspeople to go higher, longer and faster than ever before.
In sales, likewise, we need to go also go higher, longer and faster to drive sales, to become real servants of our customers to reach new levels of sales success.
New techniques will continue to be found as people and the economy continues to change and we need to train ourselves and our people to think differently to try new techniques.