Part of the reality back then was that some sales professionals simply took orders. We all remember the saying, "No one ever got fired for buying from IBM." It obviously wasn't that simple, but when the market was flush with IPO and VC money and the technology sector ruled, selling was definitely easier. It was what we like to call a "show up and throw up" environment. Some salespeople felt little need to understand a buyer's unique situation, critical business issues, or goals, much less the proposed solution's impact on the buyer's business. These salespeople didn't need to know exactly how their product or service was going to perform in the buyer's operation or affect their bottom line. Many of these past top-performers were just very good at delivering presentations, demonstrations, and "feature dumps." We've probably all seen them in action.
Ironically, the show up and throw up approach worked for many sales professionals who were lucky enough to be selling the "hot" products or services at the time it was hot. The economy was different (perhaps better) for buyers, and/or their buying habits were different. Whatever the reason, no one had to sell consultatively—salespeople were on cruise control and well compensated for it.
Now as buyers continue to change their habits, we need a new strategy that includes research (see resource guide in last week's newsletter), we need sales tools (See www.roi4sales.com) and we need to communicate directly with the economic buyer (See Communicating with C-Suite). This is not a trivial transformation. There are many questions on the top of mind in the sales den.
• Should we implement a sales methodology?
• What tools do we need to compete?
• How do we change our compensation program to compete?
• What training do we need to provide?
• What resources do we have in-house to leverage?
Each question is a valid and has to be answered to be competitive in today's crazy sales environment. On the bright side, if and when we come out of this recession, there will be a lot of money in the market again. However, the question you really have to ask yourself is: ARE YOUR READY?
Are you really prepared to handle the new era? Are you able to master the art of the sale and navigate the course to success? I believe you need to look at create a personal marketing plan for each of the sales professionals on your staff. My friend Heidi (One of the top sales professionals at a major corporation) told me once, "I manage my territory like it is my own business." This is the attitude you need to instill. Heidi is amazing in her approach to selling and servicing her customers.
Your plan needs to include the following:
1. Writing class - yes a course on composing a letter / email and grammar
2. Personal marketing program that includes social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc).
3. Resources like Inside View, Jigsaw, Linked in, etc. (And training to go along with it)
4. Sales tools to include, discovery, business case, economic impact,success stories)
5. CRM to capture steps in process and document history
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