My first job with a quota was in 1963. Since that time, I received a commission for golf clubs, clothing, cookware, vacuum cleaners, software, services, engineering, CAD/CAM, telephone services, sales training, security software, CEO services and Revenue Science™ Certification, plus others.
It was my advantage to have been trained by or worked in the best sales training, programs, methodologies, systems and have read the books about the rest. As a salesperson, the command was “CLOSE” – get the contract. The greater my skill and commitment the better my results – it was up to me to execute my skills and close.
Get in the door, get to someone who could buy, deliver the script, tell the product story, ask the right questions that lead to a series of YES answers, get on the buyer’s side of the desk, take out the contract, put the pen on the table and SHUT MY MOUTH.
Maybe I was the only one who was trained on one or more of those “sales” skills but I think not.
In cookware sales we had a standup three-ring binder with a great emotional story, leading to a passionate close about mothers and cooking with a finance plan anyone could qualify for.
In retail it was about prices for today only, combination deals, I will check with my boss to get you a special, offers the competition doesn’t have or can’t match and of course our version of a “blue light” special.
In software, it was free training, enterprise pricing, an extra year of maintenance and special pricing for the month of September.
Near the end of the twentieth-century large enterprise organizations started to realize that there was a “customer experience” thing out there and all parts of the selling organization had a part in the customers’ experience.
At this point the idea was to align product development, marketing, sales, customer services, delivery and everything else in the customer’s buying experience.
As a sales professional my job was still to close but somehow, I was now connected to other parts of the organization. My job was safe, and my bank account was full if I closed deals, so not much had changed and my customers still looked to me for everything.
Lately, research has started pointing out sales are not adding much value, quotas were being missed, and the predictability of the forecast kept getting worse – something had to change.
Of course, technology kept pace, SFA, CRM, and smartphones all made big promises along with the web, the cloud and other forms of structure truly changed everything – if not always for the better.
Those who still believed organizational success will be driven by salespeople selling to a buyer moved from those old tools to “sales enablement” and who can argue with that. “Sales enablement,” told us that no longer is the salesperson an island. They need more support like qualified leads. They need “targeted” qualified leads with a high probability to close as well as good content, training, mentors and applied technology.
Salespeople need to learn to challenge buyers (know enough about the buyer to help the buyer make a decision that improves their business) and be a partner.
Of course, all of this is true and may have been true for 200 years if anyone was looking, but is the selling problem solved? With all this in place is something still missing?
YES – The customer is missing. Google, the cloud, smartphones and Wi-Fi put the buyer in charge years ago. Fifty years ago, the seller knew the engineering secrets, the special sauce and the magic behind the curtain. Fifty years ago, buyers had to guess if the seller was embellishing a little or a lot.
Today selling is a function with or without a person. In some cases, there are salespeople, and, in some cases, there is Amazon. The buyer decides how they want to experience the selling function. Today the buyer OPTS-IN to the selling function or doesn’t.
Even if a salesperson first talks to a potential buyer through a personal reference in a face-to-face conversation the buyer goes home or back to the office or sits in their car with a smartphone and the internet to decide if they will or won’t opt-in.
As far as the engineering secrets, the special sauce and the magic behind the curtain or the question of embellishing the buyer has Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and a growing list of digital ways to learn more – often they end up knowing MORE than their sales resource about the product.
Today’s selling organization must compete with the likes of Disney, Amazon and the greatest virtual businesses in the world. Buyers are conditioned that the seller’s engagement model is educational, simple, clear, supported by knowledge-based systems and starts out knowing the buyer’s expectations better than the buyer knows them.
Breaking down a Sales Enablement engagement model into sales, sales enabled, marketing, product development, customer service, warranty, etc. is like going to the hospital for surgery and having to go office-to-office to arrange all the support services. Somehow that would be as unacceptable in the medical world as it is in the world of “Revenue Generation”. The buyer is in charge – Sales Enablement needs to quickly grow into Revenue Science™ enabled Revenue RoadMap.
The Revenue RoadMap below shows the customer journey to acquire the solution to a problem. The problem can be a retail problem in which case the journey takes minutes or a very complex business problem that can take months with buyer and seller teams working for a great outcome.
The Revenue RoadMap starts with a world full of suspects who have problems to solve. Some problems are compelling, demanding a solution and others will never justify the cost of available solutions.
Most of the time those buyers with compelling problems start Investigating options while sellers with the right technology will be investigating those investigating them. If there are solution providers who survive the investigation the buyer does an early quality – looking for ideal sellers.
Those potential buyer’s doing early qualify on sellers are revealing themselves to the sellers, so the sellers can make decisions about the amount of effort to commit to this buyer.
As the buyers move to late qualify by looking deeper into Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, and are reviewing posts, reading product stories, and finally learning about the organizational leadership the seller is seeing similar tracks telling a buyer story.
At some point, the buyer or seller reaches out to explore the problem the buyer is compelled to resolve. This is the point of solidification for both parties. Today this can be person-to-person or digital depending mostly on the buyer and current technology.
At the point, the buyer believes the seller has the best available solution and the fee is proportional to the value of the problem – a contract is executed (it could be a debit card or a long legal document).
This launches the delivery of the solution to the buyer and what both parties may want to be an ongoing partnership.
When Sales Enablement grows up it will realize it is always about the customer. It is always about providing the customer with great value and a smooth Revenue RoadMap.
Don’t wait – move to a Revenue Science™ enabled Revenue RoadMap – today!