A few years ago, I co-authored the White Paper “The Evolution of Sales: Adapt to Thrive”. It was a soft wake-up call for salespeople to change the way they sell in order to survive. We played with the word “survive” and changed it to “thrive”. Many took that warning as the opportunity to have a good look into the mirror and ask themselves how valuable they still are in customer meetings. How often are they called back for a second meeting? And how was that affecting their closing ratios?
The good news is that the cause of being less successful in Sales has been identified, backed up by research from industry-leading companies like Gartner and Forrester. It is not the selling skills that cause the below-average closing rates. Also, there isn’t anything wrong per se with the solutions that we sell. Instead, the main reason selling and the success we were used to getting isn’t like before, is simply because the buyers have moved on. They are smarter through the accessibility and transparency of information. They feel more and more confident in making decisions on what to buy or change to – by themselves, without interaction with the salesperson. In B2C, this is even more evidential. We buy nearly every household item online simply because all the information is available. The description and advantages of products are more detailed than a salesperson would ever know.
The power of information is with the buyer, and this makes buying super convenient too.
The risk is that the same trend extends to B2B. That risk is now reality. Why would buyers still need salespeople if you know already what you want and comparing products, services, and solutions is as easy as a walk in the park? You can make your decisions there while enjoying a cappuccino.
Now we are two years further, and in a recent call with sales managers, I learned that still, many salespeople find it difficult to change their way of selling. But, of course, why would you change the way you sell? You are currently successful and smashing your targets. It’s hard to believe that that would ever stop. So, that means some still put their heads in the sand. The buyer is unmerciful; it doesn’t matter if you are a veteran salesperson or a new starter; it is not up to us. The buyer is in charge, and if they have not yet, they will soon let you jump around spreadsheets and procurement battles because buyers know what they want and are determined to get it for the best price.
Companies have always adapted to consumer changes, trends and preferences. That’s why instead of traveller’s checks we use credit and debit cards when holidaying. That’s why we don’t carry mobile phones but smartphones. And, why in the near future we will all drive electric cars. What if sales jobs disappear? What if that becomes the new normal? What if buyers don’t need you anymore?
My suggestion is to adapt your way of selling, not only to survive but thrive. Learn the ways where :
- you bring back the power of information to the Seller
- you create interest for the buyer to meet with you, not only for one but several meetings
- you create value that is changing the buyer’s perspective
- you trigger the customer to discover something about themselves
- you facilitate meetings where buyers come to conclusions that they do not have the right set-up to deliver the results they need
Welcome to the new way of selling. You better jump on board.