The world of business to business sales was already evolving (and faster than many of the people within it), but the arrival of COVID-19, Lockdown and the economic fallout has acted as the catalyst to rapidly accelerate these changes.
There are essentially three inter-dependent drivers that are creating the changes:
Sellers need to adapt if they are to survive and thrive in this New World.
The term ‘Transformational Selling’ was coined by a client several years back. It perfectly described both the sales journey that they were on and the new breed of sales approach that we were seeing emerge. They themselves needed to move away from getting dragged into endless time-consuming tender processes that resulted in a race to the bottom to provide a ‘faster horse’ at the cheapest possible price.
They saw that the key to growth was to explore not what the customer stated that they wanted, but the overall outcomes that they needed to achieve. They recognised that their expertise in emergent technology and the ‘art of the possible’ was perhaps their greatest differentiator and selling point.
Ultimately, they also recognised the value of collaboration. If the customer was interested in a destination rather than a vehicle then it was a relationship worth pursuing. If the customer was only ever going to be interested in a four-legged mode of transport then there was little benefit to be had by investing large amounts of effort and resource.
We touch upon the idea of horizons, numerous times within this book. For us, this is probably the biggest change that we will see in respect of Transformational Selling. The idea that the sale isn’t complete until the customer has achieved their outcomes places the requirement for all sellers to think beyond just the order. After all, getting someone to agree to a first date should be the start of something not the final goal!
The challenge for sales organisations therefore will be to ensure that this is reflected in the way that sales people are managed, measured and incentivised. If these are all focused around a single event – the contract being signed or the invoice being paid, then naturally the salespeople themselves continue to think and focus on that specific moment in time.
There’s an old adage in sales that ‘People buy from People’. In the New World this adage will become both true and false in equal measure. The dominance of Amazon and the whole e-commerce revolution demonstrates that we are more than happy to buy without having to deal with a human being. Amazon’s total sales in 2019 was $280 billion, all of which was achieved with barely any person to person interaction and we expect this to continue and become increasingly replicated in the B2B world.
However, where you add real value to the process; where you can demonstrate that you understand what your customer is trying to achieve and you can open their eyes as to how to achieve it then you have gained that holy grail of sales – the ‘Unique Selling Point’.
The unique factor being you.
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