A Brave New World: Responding to Shifts in the Selling/Buying Model


Last week, The Complex Sale, Pedowitz Group, Eloqua, and Oracle hosted a luncheon designed to brief sales and marketing executives on how their worlds were changing.  It was a great turn out with even better insight into how buyers are changing their habits. At no time in history has Sales and Marketing seen as radical a shift in buying behaviors as in the last five years.  With tools like Google, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, information is now quite literally at our buyer’s fingertips.

Organizations are having trouble adapting to this change.  The concept of the new “Sales 2.0” world has created more questions than answers as to how Sales and Marketing can leverage new technologies to drive messaging and sales effectiveness. 
Today, buyer “self education” renders Sales and Marketing blind to buyers’ interests, propensities, and levels of engagement in our typical Sales and Marketing plans.  Buyers are less likely to engage with sales teams or to read our messaging.  Instead, buyers leverage Webinars, Online Meetings, and interactive web sites and control the sales process themselves.

Steve Woods, author of Digital Body Language and CTO of Eloqua states, “a sales person’s biggest competition for an executive’s time is now Google.”  If we as sales people cannot bring more value to the conversation than what is available online, then we are not going to capture an executive’s time or imagination.

Rick Page, author of Hope is Not a Strategy and founder of The Complex Sale states, “lead generation used to be about a hammer, now it is about a hook.” The hammer was the telephone with endless cold calls beating executives into appointments by attrition.  The hook is an opportunity for the executive to learn something insightful about their own business, industry, or competition.

Debbie Qaquish, Chief Revenue Officer at the Pedowitz Group states, “Marketing is earning its way on sales incentives trips by first, collaborating with sales to create the definition of a lead and secondly, providing insight into buyer activity on the company website that will triage the sellers call efforts.

The session ended with the obvious question – what hasn’t changed in selling?

The evaluation process is still logical and rational where the decision making process is emotional and political.  By avoiding the three foot rule (being within three feet of the prospect) and handling the sale over the web and phone, sellers risk becoming a victim of the crucible concept. Sellers need to know the competitive and political landscape, source of urgency, and enterprise level issues to when complex deals.

4 Responses

  1. I thought the three foot rule was obsolete. Larger territories, working out of home offices, buyers not wanting to make time for sales people, increased cost of sales concerns, etc.

    Buyers today, especially procurement officers, try to take the emotions out of the process. C levels are trying to push decision making down, leaving them with approval power. So is your logical evaluation, then emotional decision valid?

  2. Intelligent and measurable prospecting is the key to success in 2009 and getting ready for 2010. Set up a system where you can track which messages are most effective, don t be afraid to move to the next prospect, and nuture the one that was unresponsive. Research, think like an executive; you can stand pound the phones, but it is mind numbing for you and your prospect

  3. Buyers today want help buying…they do not like being sold.

    When you ask buyers why they do not buy, the #1 reason is the salesperson is not listening, and therefore does not understand the buyers problem-need , and cannot position their products as solutions. I discuss this in my blog http://nosmokeandmirrors.wordpress.com/2009/04/23/warning-buyers-say-what-salespeople-do-wrongprice-is-not-on-the-list/ .

    Salespeople say they did not get the sale because of price, a needed feature, or relationship.

    The key is to listen and solve the buyers problems.

    Mark Allen Roberts

  4. Social media and networking is the ultimate game changer, and we all need to learn and listen so that we can reinvent ourselves as sales professionals.

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