TALKING SALES 2: "The Challenge of Change in B2B sales" - Tony J. Hughes

John Smibert

Hughes-and-ClappingIn this 3 minute "TALKING SALES" interview by John Smibert, Tony J. Hughes tells us about the challenges recent changes in the selling landscape have presented to sales professionals and sales leaders. He give some insight in how we need to respond to these challenges.[private]

Tony is a leading author and keynote speaker in the word of B2B sales and sales leadership.

He is well known for his strategic selling book "The Joshua Principle" and for the RSVPselling methodology.


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John: Hello! Here I am, John Smibert, with Tony Hughes! A friend of mine, an author, a speaker, and the author of "The Joshua Principle" - great book, Tony!

Tony: Thanks, John!

John: I just wanted to reflect with you Tony about a couple of things that have been happening in the past with selling and what's going to happen in the future. In recent years there's been a lot of challenges for salespeople, hasn't there?

Tony: Yeah, there has. I think the challenges we're facing today largely started around the GFC, 2007-2008.

John: Right.

Tony: We've all known that we need to go sell at the C level, but the rise of consensus-based decision-making is very real. Even though a CEO does what to drive a decision, they're absolutely today looking to get consensus from their people in actually making that decision - they're not going to roll their people.

John: Right.

Tony: The other thing that goes with that is an increasing level of distrust. There's a lot of distrust for the claims of sellers, [01:00] especially in larger deals, so the appetite in organisations to make a big transaction upfront I think has really diminished. That's one of the good things about cloud computing, because you can go and start a relationship with the client in a small way and then grow, and both the seller and the buyer are sharing in the risk of making sure that they deploy successfully.

John: Good point, yes.

Tony: Then the third thing that I think is very real is just the relentless commoditization of products and services and solutions, and that problem of commoditization is very real for salespeople. They've got to work out how do they engineer value, how do they make sure they're seen as the lowest risk and best value for the buyer.

John: And those sort of challenges and changes have occurred since the GFC. Are they going to continue? What's going to happen in the next year or so in your mind? Trends in sales,  trends and challenges that face us?

Tony: Yeah, I think commoditization is just relentless. Everything becomes a commodity over time, and the real lesson is that the way we sell is more important than what we sell; [02:00] we've got to become very good at engaging. It's really the subject of another chat really, but the way that business-to-business (B2B) people use social is going to be very important for them.

John: It's so important, isn't it? And it's something that've just really got across my mind in the last 18 months or so. The power of social, particularly in the B2B environment now, is so important, isn't it?

Tony: It is, it is. And people have got to project themselves as a domain expert rather than as a salesperson if they want to engage at that senior level.

John: Let's talk about that in another interview. Anything else you want to recommend for people to respond to the changes and challenges that are occurring?

Tony: No. I would just say that the way you sell is far more important than what you sell. There's a book that I'd encourage you to read which is The Challenger Sale put out by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) - I highly recommend that book.

John: Thanks for joining me, Tony! I appreciate it, and your comments are very valuable for me and I'm sure for the audience as well.

Tony: Thanks, John!

John: Thank you!


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