Warning to Sales-Focused Companies Wanting to Stay Relevant

relevanceMike Myatt wrote an article for Forbes‘ online site called, To Increase Revenue Stop Selling.  This article has been very heavily viewed and commented.  I don’t agree with most of Mike’s suggestions, but in his defense, he is not a sales expert, sales writer, sales manager, sales leader or salesperson.  He simply doesn’t like being pitched or sold to and urges salespeople (he doesn’t want them to sell or be called that) to simply let him buy – when he wants, where he wants, how he wants, from whom he wants, and for prices he is comfortable paying.  Sounds like retail, doesn’t it? 

I disliked the tone of his article and I posted the following comment:

“Controversial article Mike – just the way it should be!

I didn’t have time to read all of the comments so I apologize if this has been covered.

I saw a number of comments about the similarity between Consultative Selling and your article, as well as people who say they’ve been pitched from consultative sellers.

Almost every client I have worked with in the past five years has claimed to have already been selling consultatively. In reality, that’s as far as they could take it on their own. A claim. They ask two more questions than they used to and then revert to a pitch. Well that isn’t consultative selling and that’s why you – and your readers – can’t stand salespeople.

It’s not the salespeople that are the problems, it’s the companies that employ them. And as long as people continue to buy, despite how ineffective salespeople are at identifying and solving problems, most companies won’t consider replacing their outdated models, processes, methodologies and salespeople.

By the way – it will always be CALLED a sales force, and they will always be selling (the verb), it’s just that the the description will continue to change in much the same way that cars still have horsepower even though the horses are long gone.”

Mike isn’t alone. There are are growing number of people who don’t like being sold and your salespeople will find them difficult and resistant, and move on.  Worse, your salespeople might actually be tenacious enough to continue trying to sell to them – further reinforcing those strong anti-salespeople sentiments.

With the increasing number of people who dislike salespeople and being sold to, it becomes even more important to develop an awareness for what makes people feel like they are being sold to and how to prevent it.   

For an article like that to have been published and create the firestorm that it did, we are not dealing with a tiny, remote group of people, hiding in a bubble, in some remote village in Northern Alaska.  The risk to business, as you know it, is real.  And the first, in each industry to adapt and master the sales solution, sets the standard and wins.  Consultative selling is not new.  It has been around since the 1960’s, but in the past few years, a growing number of sales experts are beginning to understand the complexity of the methodology.  Despite the growing awareness, most experts still find themselves behind the eight-ball when it comes to  transferring this difficult-to-learn skill set to salespeople.
You can no longer wait for your salespeople to transition from transactional to consultative selling on their own. Won’t happen.  Never will.   And you simply won’t get by with an abbreviated, homegrown, informal version of consultative selling.  You’ll have to bite the bullet on this and adapt, starting with an evaluation to determine which of your salespeople are actually capable of making this difficult transition.
I recommend that you do five things as soon as possible:
  1. Evaluate Your Sales Force to determine the gap between where you are today and where you need to be relative to getting your sales force up-to-speed and selling consultatively.
  2. Get your sales process optimized to support a consultative selling methodology.
  3. Get your sales management team trained so that they can coach to it and hold salespeople accountable to it.
  4. Replace the salespeople who won’t be able to make the transition with those who will.
  5. Thoroughly train and coach your salespeople.
Don’t know where to turn or who to trust?  I’ll be happy to help.  Just email me.