Buying Vs. Selling
As the first post of the years, I thought I would set the tone for the blog and hopefully sales in 2014. Let’s start by setting straight some unadulterated shit that has made its way into main stream sales over the last few years. It came out of the impact of the 2008 economic realities and the rise of social media in its sales form, commonly known as social selling. A cute marketing term that elevated the noise created by Sales 2.0, which just further drowned out reason in sales, and allowed people with social selling products to sell more, and pretend sales people keep their jobs.
History has taught us that when faced with a challenge you really only have three choices:
A. Get creative, apply your skills, and find a way to overcome the challenge
B. Redefine things in a way that allows you to avoid the challenge – not resolve or deal with it – but by changing the premise you mask the reality
C. Hide from it
Sadly, too often we opt for options B and/or C. Option B happily fueled and supported by pundits selling products or advice to sellers.
Let’s look at one of the biggest slices of crap peddled in sales these days:
“60% of the sales cycle is over before a buyer talks to a sales person”, as quoted by James Wood, on Earnest About B2B Blog, Slide number 5, attributes the quote to Kieran Flanagan, Hubspot. But when you follow the links to a slideshare presentation: Inbound marketing your secrets to success, Kieran, on slide 9, attributes it to the Corporate Executive Board. The link in that attribution leads to a page on Latvian TV, featuring an interview with a musician on a bus, I don’t speak Latvian, and therefore not sure if he in fact stated the above (I’m betting not). I am pretty sure he is not the one that set the absurd notion contained in the quote.
So we don’t know where it came from, but a whole bunch of people in the selling business are reciting it as though it was gospel. Problem.
What is described/discussed/contained in the quote, does not talk to a sales process, but a buying process! Big difference. The person a self-declared buyer talks to is not a sales person, but rather a quote/price dispensing order taker. It’s true, it doesn’t matter what it says on the business card, what it says on the web site or org chart, these are not sales people, they are process facilitators, and the process they are facilitation is the buying process, not a sales process. How can I tell, because order takers deal with buyers, buyers who on their own decided to explore a purchase, started defining their requirements on their own, unprompted by a (a real) seller. As they were at about 60% of their buying process, they needed some comparisons, some additional data that was not available on the company’s web site or the common social outlets, and some quotes so they could make their choice, So they reach out to the facilitator, happy to spew stats and facts, and quotes, that they are willing to negotiate.
This is not selling, it is order taking, and if it sounds like selling to you, well, I feel for you and I am here to help you.
Selling involves professionals who engage the best potential buyers based on criteria they, the seller, researched to identify the best opportunities for mutual success, their own and their buyers. This often leads to the reality that the best potential buyers, those will benefit and deliver revenue as a result, are not in the market. They are doing what they do until they are approached by the seller, which by definition means that the seller is likely about 20% – 25% through their sales cycle when they talk to a potential buyer who they are looking to convert to a prospect; and that potential prospect is at 0%, because their journey start when the seller calls.
Facilitators have no control over their success and destiny, as they are dependent on the buyer, who according to the pundits is in control. Scraps anyone?
Sellers not only control their success, income and destiny, but have more loyal clients, willing to pay full value, and rely on the seller based on their contribution to the customers’ success. You decide, not so much which you are or want to be, but how much work you are willing to invest to be the seller you ought to be.
Happy New Year!