Neil Rackham calls it the most important advance in selling for many years. Hugh Macfarlane says it has been rocking the sales world since the GFC. We, at The Next Level, would agree. Our maxim to any B2B sales professional is that if you have not read the book three times over, you are not being true to yourself! Or your sales systems.
All that said, there does appear to be a missing piece, when it comes to tailoring and translation to implementation for any given Oz B2B sales organisation. One of the critical imperatives from the research conducted by CEB is around the concept of “commercial teaching”. The authors exhort us to teach the customer something they missed in their own research on appropriate suppliers in the category of interest. Further, they tell us the commercial teaching (not just any teaching) must lead the newly educated customer to the conclusion that your company is uniquely equipped, ahead of the competitors, to address the emerging gap that they missed.
Well that sounds great… in theory.
The problem is that many Oz B2B sales organisations belong to mature markets, where innovation capability is relatively low, cheaper overseas competition is on the rise, the threat of disruption ever present, commoditisation (from the perspective of the buyers) reigns supreme, and the major feature of competition is the ugly race to the bottom guided by discounting and customer driven price warring. The great irony here is that many such sales organisations then look to their “discretionary” line items on their operating budget for relief, as the whole company suffers from margin erosion (even with stable revenue and market share). The cost of the sales systems and mobilising the sales team soon comes under scrutiny. The headcount and cost of the sales team (reduction thereof!) looks like a lifeline for these organisation. Even a potential contributor and cause of the problem… and therefore worthy of cutting.
Wrong! Or at least, the opposite can be made to be true. Come back next week and see how.
Keep an eye out for our next post: The Challenger Sale = Brilliant for your sales systems… BUT… there is a missing piece (part 2)\