Our job in sales has changed drastically in recent years. It used to be our job to educate the client on our solution: what it is, what it does, and how it can help them solve their problem. It’s not about that any more. The internet changed all of that. Our job is now about getting the client to think.
I know that sounds pretty basic but let me explain. With the amount of change that is happening in the world right now, if you’re not thinking about how to evolve your business or career there’s a strong possibility you’ll be obsolete, replaced, or disrupted sooner than you want. Between the global political uncertainty, the impact of climate change, and the lightning-fast advancements in technology, change is inevitable. There is not one industry or job that isn’t at risk.
The challenge is that most people are resistant to change and therefore not prepared for it. The number one competitor to every single sales rep on the planet is status quo. Most clients would rather stay with what they know rather than take a risk on something they don’t unless there is significant and obvious pain. The problem for us in sales is that when the client realizes they’re in pain, 50 different solutions are a Google search away. So, unless the client is in pain and we time it perfectly, we end up reacting and playing catch-up throughout a sales process lead by the client. Reacting isn’t good for either party as it is almost always less efficient and costs more.
With that, I firmly believe our job as sales professionals is to get our clients and prospects to at least consider how they can be ready for change and to evolve. This is relevant at every stage of the sales process. In the beginning stage (prospecting), it’s about planting a seed and helping it grow. If you’ve seen the movie Inception you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, go watch it. This is why social selling (when done right) is so valuable and important. At the middle stage of the sales process (meeting) it’s about asking the right questions to get them to think differently and about aligning with not only their current priorities but also industry trends. At the later stages (negotiation and closing) it’s about getting them to think about the consequences of status quo.
It’s amazing to me how many sales reps still go through the motions and don’t even think themselves, forget about getting the client to think. They blast out template e-mails, make generic phone calls, press play on demos, respond to RFPs, generate template proposals, and so on. My job as a trainer is to transfer knowledge as best I can. I see another large part of my job is to get sales reps to think. If just one of you thinks a little differently and evolves after reading this post I feel like I have done my job. You are my clients. Go focus on doing the same for your clients.
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Written by John Barrows
Sales trainer to the world’s leading tech companies