By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training Company
Like many salespeople, I was fortunate to have a mentor at the start of my sales career began. It was not my manager, someone that “managed” to the numbers by dictating how many calls should be made, how many demos should be given, how many proposals should be generated and ultimately that revenue meet or exceed quota. Jeff was great with what and how much to do. Notable by its absence was any coherent suggestions about HOW to do it.
Dick McManus had been selling for 30+ years. His long track record with the company had earned him the right to have a staff job as he waited for retirement. Even though I met him late in the fourth quarter of his sales career, he was the best salesperson I ever met. Dick somehow decided to take me under his wing, make calls with me and strategize on opportunities. He was the single largest reason for my early successes in selling.
A large part of my motivation in accepting a sales management position was a feeling that I should “pay forward” the tremendous help Dick provided me. In hindsight, I took a similar tact in making calls with my direct reports, strategizing and attempting to instill knowledge and skills that were more intuitive than tightly defined.
It is now remarkable to realize how much more efficient it can be if there is an underlying process to define a seller’s role, a common set of skills, positioning of offerings to achieve business goals of specific job titles and measurable outcomes. All of this amounts to being able to “sell on purpose” vs. sell intuitively.
In looking at the changing landscape of how buyers can leverage the Internet and social networking to minimize a seller’s influence on buying decisions, it would appear companies should be grappling with how to change selling approaches to synch up with the way buyers want to buy. Most everyone agrees that buying is changing (“what”). Few organizations have a coherent plan (“how”) to allow sellers to align with the new behaviors of buyers.