Why Sales is No Longer About Selling

880 461 Nathaniel Seevers

My wife and I purchased a new car recently. Not a new car mind you but a “new to us” car. A budget-friendly, Ohio winter friendly, grown-up anti-college car, car.

It has just the right amount of bells and a humble, yet confident, whistle.

This was the first time at a dealership in a while. For some reason I guess I expected the approach had changed since the approach to so many other consumer interactions have, but nothing seemed that different.

I spent some time in new car sales during college. People who know me know how ridiculous that sounds. Not because there’s anything wrong with car sales. There are absolutely great dealerships and great sales associates out there. More because I’m what you might call a fumbling introvert.

It all got me to thinking about sales today. How it’s not really about selling at all if you’ve grown and evolved as purchasing habits have.

The facts, according to a study by Ravenhouse International, are sharp and they are this:

  • 7 out of 10 customers believe that the sales reps that service them are product-focused rather than customer-focused
  • Customers feel that only 1 in 10 sales reps adds any real value

So if Sales is not about selling now what is it about?

Externally it’s about:

  • Teaching  – not the feature-benefits but teaching what to expect in the process and after.
  • Clearing the misconceptions – allowing for transparency in who is involved, how the service/product compares and how there’s a real possibility that it doesn’t fit.
  • Acknowledgment of reservations. Hearing them, talking about them not talking around them.
  • Anti-segmentation. Less lumping into groups but more individualization. What’s that you say? You can’t “scale” like that? Focus your processes on quality over quantity.
  • Being a trusted advisor instead of a “consultative salesperson.” Here the conversation starts at a higher level instead of a transaction.

Internally it’s about:

  • A seamless connection between marketing, brand management and the “sales” interaction
  • The right mix of Direct and Indirect (inbound, content-driven) Lead Generation

“Gartner projects that “by 2020, 85% of all B2B transactions will occur without talking to a human.”

Whether the above-mentioned prediction holds true or not sales is not about selling anymore. The relationship has to start much sooner.

Thoughts or experiences on the subject? Share below.

photo credit: Alden Jewell

picture of lego man screaming

Fear Driven Business Scares Me

880 461 Nathaniel Seevers

Business can be rough these days. The pressure is on to keep up with the demands and changing ideas of consumers – who seem to be spending less and less. Or maybe they’re just spending smarter.

The trends you jump on this morning are dying by sunset and new trends have moved in. Your competitors are innovating. New competitors are popping up every day – all full of personality and caffeine. Or piss and vinegar as my granddad would say.

I have no idea what those ingredients have to do with anything, but still.

And so, when the heat is on and there are decisions to be made that will have a ripple effect across the organization, far too many companies react based on fear. Like when you punch a haunted house worker even though you know it’s all fake.

It’s fight or flight. It’s instinct.

The difference between socking a guy wearing a zombie mask and leading your company or team with a desperate hand is that the former is a one-time event and the latter often turns into a habit. Those decisions can begin to build on themselves.  They stack up until you have to dig your way out. Change the culture.

Seth Godin talks about something similar here. He calls it Stoogecraft.

So how does one help prevent a layer of suffocating fear-based decisions? read more

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