Is It Time to Rethink Sales Altogether? By Alex Low | @Alexander_Low
“When does your quarter end?”. That was the first question that was asked by a prospect of a sales person I was talking to last night. Why did the client ask that? Because they knew that if it wasn’t, he would wait until it was as he would get a better “deal”.
Here’s an idea
As we move towards quarter-end and year-end for a lot of sales teams, the pressure is on. All the tactics come in to play. The price is going up in the New Year, my hands are tied, you don’t have to invoice us until end of Q1 next year, I just need to get the deal signed off. Yes, you will get all those add-ons. Good luck to customer success on delivery of that one.
I get it. I have been in your shoes, both as a grunt and a manager. It is not easy.
You all proclaim to be customer first and client centric organisations. But look at the majority of sales and marketing collateral, websites and other channels. It is all very self-serving. We are delighted to announce that. We acted for. We led on this deal. How is that customer centric? How about something like, “Delighted to see client X complete on x project on time and in budget. Thank you for giving us the opportunity to support you on this”. Just an idea.
Get your head out of the sand!
It is now widely accepted that the customer is in control of the buying process. I am not going to quote the stats, because if you don’t know them by now, then you must be either hiding under a rock or sticking your head in the sand. I am also not getting into the social vs traditional debate either.
What I want to highlight is that social and technology enables the client or prospect to be much better informed on what they are buying and how they would like to buy it. If both sales and marketing understand this and can create a seamless online and offline buying journey, based on all the data analytics available, people will buy when they are ready to buy.
Yes, you will need inside sales to help the client along, be this through chatbots, video calls, or face to face. The complexity and the value of your proposition will dictate this also. However, if you can make a complex proposition easy for someone to buy, the latest data shows this not only improves propensity to buy, but also at a higher value.
If you build your pipeline and metrics around “I need x number of clients who are ready to buy at any given time,” then the quarter-end question becomes irrelevant in my view.
There is a smarter way for sales
Yes, I recognise that there will still need to be an element of tension created during the buying process. However, I believe this can now be done in a far more sophisticated way.
With all this in mind, I believe it is time to review how sales teams are compensated. Why? Because existing compensation models can drive poor behaviour. For example, science proves that money is a really poor lever to get people to do things without it having a potential negative impact on the desired result. The collapse of Lehman Brothers is an example that springs to mind, or the recent Libor rigging.
The overall effect in my view is that this will give the client a much, much better buying experience. Therefore, they will be more loyal, and more likely to take cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. They are also more likely to refer you on to prospects as well.
The short answer? You should not be selling in the 21st Century, but enabling the purchase.
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