Today’s economic climate is a Darwinian perfect storm designed to rid markets of bad companies, under performing assets and average sales people.
Today’s market is going to mercilessly shred the average sales person. It will have no patience for those who rely on the products to sell themselves. It will punish those who think their “buddy-buddy” relationships will move their wares. It will chew up and spit out those who expect the products technology; its “unique” features or its cool factor to win the day. Today’s market is a bazooka looking to take down the average sales person with no remorse.
The market is down 50% in the last year. Cash is king. Capital is difficult to come by. Customers are getting scarce. To sell in today’s market requires more than relationships, product knowledge and cool features. It requires clear, discernible, measurable, business value; value that can be quantified.
Trusted Adviser, Consultative Selling, Demand Creation, have been such overused sales vernacular they have become trite. Today however, dusting off these terms and putting them into practice could be the difference between perishing or surviving.
In poor economic times, even some things are universal. Every business needs more customers. Every business needs to make more money. Every company needs to save money. Therefore, the sales person who can deliver a product or service that can achieve the above has a fighting chance, the rest will die.
Understanding this; ask yourself how much you know about your customers business. How are you talking to your customers? Do you know what quantifiable value your products enable? (Hint: It’s not scalability, or reliability, ease of use, etc. It’s NOT product centric). What conversations are you having with your customers? If they are not process oriented, revenue generating, cost savings, efficiency driving, specific, measurable, value oriented discussions, you are having the wrong conversations.
Those who will beat back today’s economic environment will:
1. Be an expert in their customers business, industry and competition. They will be intimate with how their customers run their business and understand their business drivers.
2. They will be more business analyst than sales person
3. They will leverage industry experts or Professional Services organizations
4. They will have conversations about enablement, financial and operational efficiency, revenue generation, customer generation/retention and not about reliability, scalability, and ease of use.
5. They will know things their customers don’t. Things about their customers business, their customers market, their customers competition and their customers industry. They will be a critical resource of information for their customers.
6. They will be extremely creative; creative in creating solutions, leveraging financial structures, and developing business models and partnerships. They will be creative with fresh ideas.
7. They will build strong pursuit teams. Understanding the level of knowledge based selling required; they will surround themselves with the best and the brightest minds.
Trusted Advisor, Consultative Selling, and Demand Creation are not just sales vernacular to be used on resumes and in books. They are real selling approaches; approaches that in good times can be claimed by many, but in difficult times claimed by few.
No more hiding. Your talent as a sales person will bore itself out in this environment. Are you going to like what you see?