The future is upon us, it is now!
Evolution of the critical role of sales in an ever evolving , global market place is a reality that we in sales must willingly embrace and be willing to change for in order to maintain our continued relevance.
I know this is easier said than done; BUT it is not impossible.
This blog is based on my learning from the Solutions Marketing course at the HULT Business School, Boston. Extensive reading and submissions of papers pertaining to the future of marketing set me thinking about the sales person of the future, keeping in step with changing marketing requirements.
The result is this ready reckon er for current sales reps to consider making changes to themselves so that they are battle ready for the foreseeable future!
According to my research….The salesperson of the future will be…
- …introverted rather than extroverted. Traditionally, most of the people drawn to a sales career have been of the “interesting extrovert” variety but, today, the “interested introverts” often do better because they tend to be curious about the customer and more willing to let the customer dominate the conversation, as opposed to the extrovert who is constantly trying to prove how interesting he or she is. Source: sales guru Tom Hopkins.
- …a collaborator rather than a communicator. With the Internet, the customer and the sales rep typically knows a great deal about each other’s firms. As a result, the selling process becomes a matter of filling out the details and coming to a deeper understanding. Rather than providing information, the seller participates in a mutual educational process between the supplier and the consumer of a product or service. Source: Bob Carr, CEO of Heartland Payment Systems.
- …a negotiator rather than a convincer. Traditionally, selling was seen as a way to change the preferences of a potential buyer so that he or she is more likely to buy. Over the past 20 years, however, this has undergone a big shift, so that sales is now seen as a negotiation skill that helps people reach agreement. Source: Max H. Bazerman, Professor, Harvard Business School.
- …an expert rather than a generalist. Because sales jobs are becoming more specialized and professional, it is easier to teach the sales process than it is to teach business knowledge. For example, companies that provide process control systems to refineries now look to hire individuals who have been refinery managers, while companies selling ER management software look to hire ER nurses. Source: Jeff Thull, CEO of Prime Resource Group
- …a professional rather than a tyro. Business schools are taking sales more seriously. Universities are definitely adding sales into the curriculum, even though in the past it was not considered theoretical enough. Sales as a profession has gained status as people, both in business and in academia, realize that sales engagements are much more complex than in the past.
These ideas are definitely turning all known sales axioms on their head because they come from some of the best thought leaders in their fields.
This is certainly serious food for thought and for assimilation at the highest priority!
This blog is a result of my current professional engagements with 2 great start-ups, that I believe will disrupt our markets in India and empower the key stakeholders in their respective eco-systems, like never before.
THATs why I am with them!!
START-UP number 1 – Confidential / Secret/- Disruptive tech based and enabled platform for the $ 5 billion marriage services market.
START-UP number 2- http://www.fleximoms.in/ – Disrupting the flexible work niche in the labor market in Indian AND empowering women (yaay!!) at the same time!! (Double yaay!!)
These 2 great start-ups define awesomeness! and as I would say in Boston, …they are WICKED cool !!
So , the question is you have a tech enabled platform, ready to rumble and roll, NOW WHAT?
Who gets the revenues? The sales team of course?
And how do they do it in a start up? thats the million dollar question I wanna answer in this blog- hope you like it…
Selling for a startup presents unique challenges even for highly experienced sales professionals. Because your company is new, your potential customers don’t know anything about it and, sad to say, in business unfamiliarity breeds contempt. Not to worry, though. Here are the six rules of selling for startups:
- You are an entrepreneur. You aren’t in a big company, so ultimately the only person you can really count on to get things done is yourself. Don’t hesitate to do whatever it takes to move the sale forward, even if it means giving up your weekends.
- Don’t be afraid to bail. If a deal doesn’t make sense for your company, it’s not worth pursuing. Don’t let wishful thinking propel you into wasted effort. For example, if you can’t meet with the real decision-maker, you aren’t going to get the business. Period. Move on, without regrets.
- Don’t be taken advantage of. Insist that every customer relationship is a relationship between equals. Adopt a policy of “Quid Pro Quo” – that anything the customer or prospect asks you to do give you the right to ask them to do something comparable in return.
- Believe in your greatest strength. What startups offer customers is unique, and that’s good news, because top executives don’t have the time to sit with down with cookie-cutter sales reps, but always have time for somebody who can redefine problems and devise solutions.
- Don’t scuttle your credibility. Never take on an apologetic air, try to explain away the inexperience of your firm, or (ugh!) beg for the business. Savvy customers can smell fear and will ask for steep discounts or even amuse themselves by making you jump through meaningless hoops.
- Dare to be honest. Share your feelings with the prospect to move the sale forward. If you believe that the customer is treating you unfairly or asking too much, respectfully point out why you see the situation that way and then ask for reasonable concessions.
I started as a sales rep with J&J some 18 years back and despite the progression in my career, have always been close to the sales function. Even as the P&L head for the business in Africa, I made it a point to share my earned knowledge with the team, and ensured that those in operations were in some manner a part of the sales function.
Over the years as a professional my belief has been strengthened that a stint in sales in a must for ALL key functionaries within the organization , and by that I mean , marketing,manufacturing, finance, stores, logistics.
What you have to understand, and understand well is even if you manage engineers, marketing, operations, or customer service; you’re still a salesperson. You sell every day. You don’t just sell products and services; you sell your projects, budget, ideas, and capabilities. And your customers aren’t just the paying kind; they include everybody you interface with.
During my 18 years career I have learnt some critical lessons because of my stint in various sales roles and this is why I believe that every manager should have a stint in sales as well
- Shut up and listen. Nothing you’ve ever read or learned is nearly as important as what the person across from you is about to say … if you just shut up and listen. When you talk first, you lock yourself into a position or path. But if you listen, you gain far more information.
- Problems create opportunities. Your biggest and best opportunities to make a difference will always be when things go wrong. How you respond in time of crisis, when somebody needs you, is a window into your true capability. And that spells opportunity if you rise to the occasion.
- It’s all about relationships. There are no companies or businesses, just people. Business is all about individuals and their interrelationships. When things go wrong, that’s the glue that holds everything together. There’s no such thing as a self-sustaining business.
- Your customer always does come first. Call it business Karma, but whatever you have going on, whatever you expect to accomplish on any given day, when somebody, anybody comes to you with a problem, help them first. Remember: you have way more customers than you think.
- Understand motives. When you think about what you’re going to say or do, you miss an opportunity to make a difference. If, on the other hand, you ask, “how can I help you,” or ask yourself “what’s in it for her,” you’ll be in a far better position to help … and recognize opportunities.