TALKING SALES 71: "Adapting to change in our sales world"

John Smibert

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"The measure of intelligence is the ability to change."Albert Einstein - interview by John Smibert

John DeanIn this interview John (JD) Dean outlines some of the significant changes that have occurred in our B2B sales world over recent years. In particular he discusses the  wholesale shift that has occurred in the way organisations buy and how that has impacted how we sell.  He also talks about the emergence of excellent sales tools - and about access to information - sales organisations now have at their fingertips. He talks about how this has changed the way we need to sell.

JD emphasises that we need to adapt to these changes in order to remain relevant to our customers and to be seen as bringing value to them through our conversations.

Sales leaders, CEO's, COO's and Marketing CMO's are likely to find this interview thought provoking

John (JD) Dean is a revenue and growth strategist, a board member, an author and a keynote speaker.

See more of the 'TALKING SALES' series here

Interview:

John: Welcome back, JD!

JD: Thanks for the opportunity!

John: JD, I'd like to draw on some of your experience. You've been around in the sales environment for a long, long time, particularly in the area of consulting and coaching and training and so on.

JD: Yes.

John: You would've seen a lot of changes happening in the last decade or so, I'd like to share some of those with the audience and try and help them think through how they need to react and respond to those changes to be more productive. Can you tell me what some of those are and what we need to do to address them?

JD: Sure, sure. Let me first of all touch on the buying process, what buyers do and what organisations do...

John: There've been a lot of changes.

JD: There've been a lot of changes, right?

John: Yes, a lot of changes.

JD: People talk about Emron, people talk about a variety of other processes, procurement has been actively involved in a lot more of the large style deals; there's a lot more signatures involved, generally, in opportunities from a customer's perspective. Buying has really fundamentally changed in the last 10 to 15 years and it continues to change, with organisations trying to be a bit smarter about reducing costs in their business, etc.

John: Right, so that's on the buyer side. What about on the sales side, what's changed in our world?

JD: Understand all the buying cycle, all the things in the buying cycle that the customer needs to do, and then make sure we not only understand that but we could almost stand up in front of their management team and talk to them about their business, their business drivers and some of those other things rather than-again, 15 years ago we'd probably more likely to talk about speeds and feeds and features and functions and that style of things.

John: Yes.

JD: So it's really understanding a lot more of the business mantra, business process, understanding the vision of the business, etc., and driving that.

John: I remember the old thing we used to be taught, going to a customer and asking them what kept them up late at night, right?

JD: Right.

John: Customers don't want to hear that anymore.

JD: No, they don't.

John: They expect that you already know that when you walk in the door.

JD: They do.

John: You've got to do your research, and that research is much more-that's the other big change that'd occurred. Because now the Internet, the search capability, the ability to get information and insight before you even walk through the door.

JD: Absolutely. I remember, a client asked me maybe 25 years ago "What's the difference between a 40-meg hard drive and a 20-meg hard drive?" and I said "You'll never fill the 20-meg hard drive up!"     So, information is absolutely prevalent now, significantly more than it was.

John: The world has changed in that respect.

JD: Absolutely.

John: And, of course, the other changes that'd occurred are the way in which we can engage with customers I guess.

JD: Yes, absolutely. Tools like LinkedIn provide fantastic insight into where individuals have been, the teams they've been working with before - there's all sorts  of information available on the Internet, not only from a buying but obviously from a selling perspective as well.

John: And we talked about branding in one of our earlier things, but of course when you understand that branding thinking right into the Internet, into social and how we present ourselves in the Internet if you like; it's really important these days, and it wasn't really there 10 years ago.

JD: Oh, completely. I had a meeting with a senior VP only last week, and we had 42 common connections. Without LinkedIn I would not have had that opportunity of sparking that conversation, building rapport and then moving forward into some of the challenges.

John: Okay, so there are some really big changes there.

JD: Yes.

John: I'm finding that organisations do struggle a little bit to keep up with them.

JD: Yes.

John: It's something they need to concentrate on, right?

JD: It's completely something they need to focus on. What are the resources we give to our sales team to better enable them to understand the customer effectively?

John: And support them.

JD: And support them all the way through that process.

John: Okay. Some really good thinking there - thank you very much for the insight, I look forward to the next time we talk!

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More of John (JD) Dean:

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