The Changing Landscape of Selling

PART 1: Having been involved in multiple sales environments for many years, I have had the opportunity to observe sales teams at work.

Some have been fairly rudimentary order takers and ensuring shelves are stocked at defined through to complex solution selling.

One thing remains as a common thread through the teams, in that if you do not have a process and structure to your selling cycle or approach you will not be effective.

However, one large change in complex selling is that the customer themselves are highly educated in potential solutions to their problems.

You are no longer the party bringing a moment of aha to solve a particular problem that your customer or account may have.

The customer is now self aware. The advent of ubiquitous electronic communication has absolutely changed the way of engagement.

Previously, you would throw the hook and fish for pain points within the customer. Once uncovered you would scurry away to your offices with your pre sales teams to craft your excellent solution to the issue. Presenting this back to the customer would be the moment of "aha" where if you had understood the problem you would be able to present yourself as the only solution and price, whilst important to the customer, was not the highest ranking factor.

Organisations now, are far more self aware of issues that they may have simply by exploring the internet to see best practise from around the globe, reading blogs and self volunteered information that is on the web to explore how they make there business more profitable and efficient.

Post the self diagnoses, you are now also able to research which colour and size band aid you need to stop bleeding and get well. Generally, you know what your issue is, what the fix you require is - so the next step.... issue an RFP and bed down the top 3 possible suppliers into a price bake-off.
  • So where does this leave organisations that are trying to sell these solutions? 
  • Do you want to join the race to the bottom?
  • Do you walk away from previous accounts because the RFP spec does not match your offering?
I would assume most businesses would want to retain historic revenue sources as well as grow new revenue streams.

Upfront, you need to be far more engaged in your customer accounts. Not only there when you are trying to sell. Be seen as a true collaboration partner by demonstrating what partnership means. Phrases of "partnership" and "win-win" are only valid if there is intent from both sides.

An example could be if you are the buyer of a certain type of IT appliance would you rather deal with a supplier that always meets your price demands or a company that works with you to understand what your business intent is and enable that through bringing new models in their commercial approach to the fore as well as having their technical teams meet with you regularly to incorporate your needs into future software and hardware releases.

When saying new commercial model, it does not always need to mean price decrease but rather structuring upfront price, licensing cost, maintenance costs etc. Structuring what the customer needs form each of the buckets, structuring the pricing and payment terms of each bucket.

More to come, I think this will need to be a series.

[Grant Marais]