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I was discussing a situation with one of my sales consultant friends where they are seeing a sales force where solution selling is still only a skill of the minority.
This sales force is largely made up of “product presenters” that don’t ask about the prospect’s business. These sales people show up to sales meetings and say things like “check out our new product. It’s great, right?” and “look at such-and-such a feature” rather than saying things like “what are your major business challenges? And how are you going about achieving those?”
The result of this “product presenting” sales approach is that the company is only selling its core legacy products and very few of its new products that are strategically important to the company. In addition, there seems to be a large amount of discounting going on even for the company’s core products.
This scenario is in no way an isolated case from my travels around many small firms. My experience in these environments is that only a fraction of the sales people in these firms solution sell.
But solution selling is 35 years old. It’s hardly a new skill. And yet many of the sales people in these companies are not doing it. They’ve all heard of solution selling. In fact, many of them seem to have been trained in it – in one way or the other. Many of them even say they were solution selling when they’re not.
So if a methodology like solution selling that was created 35 years ago is not common practice yet what of Sales 2.0 and Social Selling. I’d place those approaches as 6-7 years old?
I’ve stated that in a few years sales people that can’t Social Sell will be like an assistant that can’t use a computer but only a typewriter. Their career prospects will not be good. But maybe my view of the timeline here is that of an innovator wearing rose-colored glasses. Perhaps the typewriter users have a much longer career ahead than I think.
Is there a way to speed up the adoption of Social Selling and Sales 2.0?
Vehicles like the Sales 2.0 conference and Anneke Seley’s great book Sales 2.0 have certainly brought these approaches to the attention of sales people and managers worldwide. But once people know about these approaches how do we make them a habit? After all nearly all the sales people I mentioned at the beginning of this post knew about solution selling – in fact they treated it as old hat. But they did not do it. They knew about it but it was not a habit.
Do companies need to hire a bunch of sales trainers to train on Sales 2.0 and Social Selling? Will sales management coaching do it? Do we need to train the trainer (sales managers) in lots of companies and that will do it? Do companies need to buy lots of Sales 2.0 tools? And putting those tools in place will change behavior?
What do you think? How do you speed up adoption of new techniques and turn them into habits in your company?