The end of the challenger sales era.sales

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I here by claim the end of the challenger sales era. Say hello to the collaborative sales era where the agile, collaborative sales organisation will thrive and survive. This is article about The collaborative, agile selling organisation by Jens Edgren, Solution Selling instructor. #solution_selling2.0

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The end of the challenger sales era.sales

  1. 1. SalesMakover AB Jens@salesmakeover.se www.salesmakeover.se +46707998800 / +46 8 651 25 00 The end of the challenger sales era. What I am going to suggest to you may come as a shock. If your first thought is ”this is not true for my business”, I strongly suggest you go and ask your kids or some one younger that 15 years to tell you how they do their research using the internet before they buy. Do you still think there is a strong relationship between the # of sales calls and the sales result? Game, set and match, it is over. In this article I will explain why most sales efforts creates less sales than doing nothing and what to do about it. Statistics never lie. Take a look at these figures:  93% of buyers begin their buying process using the internet for research. Marketo.  74% of C-level executives say the Internet is invaluable for finding information and 53% say they prefer to locate information themselves. Forbes Insight, The Rise of the Digital C-Suite  72% Of B2B Buyers (2013) used social media to research a potental solution purchase. DemandGen  59% engaged with a peer who had addressed the challenge.  37% Posted questions on social networks for feedback.  80% of the buyers find you, not the other way around. Our tradition Sales people are measured on sales activities, trained in how to do cold calling and rewared for revenue. That formula of success was based on the ”information advantage of the seller”. The seller, like a person walking between villages in the outback country of Australia, US or Scandinavia, spread the news about problems and solutions, often told as stories, later shown as powerpoint presentations. Since the ”information advantage” was true, the seller knew more about their products and how they could serve customer problems and that information was hard to find by the buyer else were, the seller had a specific
  2. 2. SalesMakover AB Jens@salesmakeover.se www.salesmakeover.se +46707998800 / +46 8 651 25 00 value to the customers. As the figures, statistics, shows, and your kids already new 3 years ago, that advantage is now completly erased. It is all on the internt. Try a google search on what you sell. Spend 15 minutes to read what is out on the net, and than ask your self a question: What more can you tell a customer about what you can do for hin/her than they could read,see and hear themselves? Last summer an HBR article (Adamson,Dixion; The end of the Solution Selling era, HBR 2012)(1), claimed the end of the Solution Selling era. The authors assumed that most sellers are trying to, as the good doctor, get the customer to share pain so they can come up with a solution and get the sale. And they had massive research to show that it did not work. They could have saved thousands of hours and dollars and called me. I have been in sales for more than 25 years. That approach have never worked well. I could have old them that over the phone. The authors recepie for success was ”challenge your customers” and with massive surveys they could proove that sales people who are provocative sell more than sales people who ask open questions. I also agree to that, because that gives the customer a certain value. Based on the research done by Geoffrey Moore (2) about 12-15% of a certain buyer community responds to this strategy as these buyers are not risk averse, they are instead looking for sales people who can put up a challenge, offer them innovations and lead the way to succesful implementation. But the other 80% who are either platform buyers, defending a proven solution or the ultra conservative buyer who rather go bankrupt than change – how will they react to a challenging message? I think the authors of the article should get first hand experience on that before ordering the recepie as the formula of success. You could argue if I am right or wrong. That will only take focus on the real challenge: What if your sales people do not get to meet the customers? What if your prospects do not want to spend 1 hour of their time with a sales person, what the approach may be, challenging or not? Nearly every day I talk to sales people who, despite a good cold calling script, never gets hold of the prospect. And if they do – the customers turns them down, not interested. Do you think the solution is a new script? Or longer lists of people to call? Or maybe telemarketing to book the meetings your sales people cant do? Or a ”challenging message”?
  3. 3. SalesMakover AB Jens@salesmakeover.se www.salesmakeover.se +46707998800 / +46 8 651 25 00 What if your sales people spend the majority of their time doing sales activities that either annoys the customers, and creates tension with ”challenging messages” that makes most of the customers defend themselves or leads to long hours at the office, waiting for ”hot leads” from the market department that never comes? Think again. It is now it gets really scary. The history is paved with examples of paradigm changes. You and I are facing maybe the biggest change since the computer became a tool for sellers. It is the end of the challenger sales era, because you do not get the chance to challenge your customers. Conclusion #1: Selling is collaboration with the customer It is time to reveal how you can adopt to the changes I described. What is true in todays selling world? Customers still needs to find solutions to improve their business. Customers still need to buy things, services and products to fulfil their needs. And customers pay for the value they see fit. The paradigm shift can be described as the ”looking customer”. Todays customer are aware of their problems and solutions to those problems. They exchange, through social media, ideas how and with who how to solve their needs. And when they are ready to move on in their buying cycle they will contact a sales organisation, not to be ”sold” but to get their needs fulfilled. And I thing most customer would prefer to talk with a consultant, a solution architect, a craftsman or a software programer if they had a choise. Because those people can do real things for them. Still present in the mind of the customer are two things: Risk and value. The customer will ask two questions before taking a buying desicion: ”is it worth it?” and ”will it work?”. And if the customers anwers are: ”I dont now the value” and ”not sure it will work”, 80% of the buyerers will take a ”no decision” (Jens Edgren, SalesMakeover 2010)(3). In order to sell the sales organisation, who can be anyone in the organisation, will have to coach the customer so he/she can get the answers they need to make an informed buying decision. It is not selling – it must be a collaborative apporach. I call this conslusion #1: Selling is collaboration.
  4. 4. SalesMakover AB Jens@salesmakeover.se www.salesmakeover.se +46707998800 / +46 8 651 25 00 Conclusion #2: Selling is agility, you got 48h to respond to inquiries Assume your customer have spent enough time doing research on the net, talking to peers, interacting with credible sources and finally coming up with a specific wish: something you could sell. And decide to call you up, book a meeting with you. What do the customer want? See powerpoints describing your organisation? Answer to open questions about heir strategy? Hear a ”challenging message”? I dont think so, if you are in doubt, play the buyer role for a change and have some of your sales people present your stuff to you. The customer wants you to listen to them and fullfill their needs. Only if you truly have what we call as a differentior (used to be called ”unique selling point- usp”) and you can relate that to the any of the customers business issues, now or later in their implementation process, you will be able to change their mind, we call that ”vision reengineering”. If not – proceed to do a draft proposal and and check if your customer likes is or not. If they do they will buy, if not, you can call them every day and ”follow up” on the proposal until you change jobs. It will not give you the sales. Once the customer havet old you waht they want they want a fast reply. I say within 48 hours you must be able to respond to complex inquaries. In order to do so your organisation must be ready to step out of the organisational chart and work as a crossfunctional team. Sales, R&D, techguys, consultants, finance, legal, i dont know what resources you need this time, must collaborate and create a solution that fullfills the customer need. That will give you the sale, everything else equal. Everyone i your organisation are, in this way, a part of the salesorganisation. This is the conclusion #2: The agile organisation. Conclusion #3: Find the looking buyer while he/she still is looking, fish in the sea where the fish swims Since the customer spends more time looking on their own, and even avoid contacts with sellers, we have an opportunity to serve our customers in this phase. The customers are looking for valuable content, not market b-s. Most companies have more content than they realise, but it is hard to find. Its is like walking into a library and seaching for a book you dont know the name of. And what if you don teven know there is a book to look for? I call this strategy to fish where the fish are. LinkedIN groups, tweets, bloggposts, updates – every where valuable content can be served to the clients. You can push content in e-mailcampaigns and /or make it available to seaching, content hungry customers.
  5. 5. SalesMakover AB Jens@salesmakeover.se www.salesmakeover.se +46707998800 / +46 8 651 25 00 If they like what they see they will, like the fish, take a bite. More hooks, larger nets gives you a better catch. Why not trade a couple of sales calls a week for tweets, linkedin bloggposts and updates? How about Inmails, where you both offer a business suggestion and a link to a white paper that is easy to read while the customer is walking to his or her next meeting, reading it in an Iphone? We are serving, not selling. I here by claim the end of the challenger sales era. Say hello to the collaborative sales era where the agile, collaborative sales organisation will thrive and survive.  Conclusion #1: Selling is collaboration with the customer  Conclusion #2: Selling is agility, you got 48h to respond to inquiries  Conclusion #3: Find the looking buyer while he/she still is looking, fish in the sea where the fish swims Your Jens ”SalesMakeover” Edgren 1) Adamsson, Dixon¸The end of the Solution Selling era, article, HBR; Adamson,Dixion; http://hbr.org/2012/07/the-end-of-solution-sales/ar/1 2) Geoffey Moore; Inside the tornado; 1995, McGraveHill, 3) Jens Edgren; SalesMakeover, how to create a solutiondrive sales organisation; 2010; Brainstation Publishing,

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