This question is one of the more interesting questions I want answered when working with a sales person or a sales team.
Product Pusher or Solution Puller?
The answer lies based upon two factors…
- How much traditional sales training has a person had?
- What is the sales model for the organization?
When looking for one of these factors, it gives insight into how successful a b2b sales person will be – overall. Let take a closer look at what these two factors are actually telling us.
Traditional sales training is based upon short-term selling techniques or tactics with little strategy employed in the event. Yes, traditional sales is more of an event mentality as sales people look for a quick decision. The overall success of a traditional sales person is based upon the amount of activity taken – phone calls, appointments, presentations, close the sales with little follow-up – except to get referrals for the next potential sale.
The world of the traditional sales person today is one of a commodity sales world, where price is the only determining factor as to who gets the business. The sales people living in this world are the ones asking for lower prices to make more sales. Sales volume appears to be more important than profitability for these sales people.
The Sales Model of an organization is the second factor to look at to determine their overall success in the market place. Sadly, most of the senior level sales executives were trained using the traditional model of sales training. Thus, their focus is to have more phone calls, get more appointments and increase volume. Profitability can be very tight in these organizations, since it is activity based rather than quality based selling.
The major signal an organization is using a traditional sales model is the emphasis upon “objection handling” which is a dead give away to the old school of selling.
As a b2b sales person, you may be very comfortable using this sales model and want to continue using it. Since it appears simpler in many ways, the effort needed to learn new methods of selling are questionable for the traditional or old school sales person.
Yet, the truth is, as a commodity based sales person with limited skills for the Questioning Model of Selling you may be at risk sooner than you expected relative to job security. Why is that? You may ask.
Since every organization is looking for ways to improve their productivity and lower costs, it will not take an organization to realize your job can be standardized (like the products you push) and converted into a technology based offering. Thus, buyers will log in to your company’s website and place orders using a menu rather than a proposal.
Sound like science fiction? It is happening today with many organizations. Companies like Amazon.com are trailblazing a path for the online purchasing system. They have expanded from a book seller to all types of products that were once the domain of the outside sales person. Add to this pressure cooker the idea being spread by many buyers – they have no time for sales people and “selling company” if you do not have to pay a commission or salary to an outside sales person, then my cost should be lower! GEEZ!
So what do you need to do if you are not ready to retire?
It’s time to join the ranks of the b2b sales superstars and learn how to sell using a different model of selling. While the Questioning Model of Selling has been around since the late 1980’s it is still not a mainstream selling model mainly due to the two factors mentioned above.
Make a commitment to yourself to learn the Questioning Model of Selling and become more valuable. Oh, to make matters even more interesting there is a new era of collaboration coming to organizations everywhere. Many are using this model within their organizations and are developing both their leaders and teams to function with a collaborative effort. The days of the “lone wolf” or “long ranger” approach are becoming more and more limited.
Think about team selling as an improvement on your sales success. This is definitely important for both major account and national account selling.
Connect all the dots – Questioning Model, Collaboration Models and Team Selling Models. They are related and will be the future of selling.