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Why Selling Had to Change in the Last 60 Years

Competition, The “Purgatory” and Urgency A. The Customer is Always King – But it has be win/win We all know the customer is king. But this principle backfires when we agree to an adversarial buying program that diminishes our selling. For instance: The Purgatory of Call Me Back in 2 Weeks. We have all had the experience: 1. We meet the prospect, get invited to bid and submit the bid. 2. We call back at the agreed upon time to follow up and are told: “I haven’t looked at the proposal yet; call me back in 2 weeks.” 3. So we call back in 2 weeks, and get told: “Call me back in 2 weeks” Ad infinitim. Some people call this…The Purgatory of Call me Back in 2 weeks. Here’s a troubling thought – could our selling system be encouraging this? B. Safe vs. Serious Conversations The core of selling is conversations. There are two types: 1) Safe – the prospect will never give you any business; they are in the conversation for another reason. Typically, they want a 3rd price to gauge the effectiveness of their buying from the incumbent 2) Serious – the prospect has a compelling need and is willing to discuss it. How do you know if you’re in a serious conversation (assuming it’s not a 1 call close?) We watch what the prospect does, not what the prospect says. Thought question: Are we encouraging the prospect to act seriously? C. The Payment in Kind Principle We all know the salesperson who returns from a sales meeting and declares: “It was a great meeting!” When asked why, he says: “They loved me.” Subsequently, we lose the business and learn we never had a chance. We were actually in “The Purgatory of Call Me Back in 2 weeks.” This salesperson overly relied on body language and social cues, which were positive. These are important, but not nearly enough. He probably didn’t encourage the prospect to engage in behaviors that are appropriate to a serious conversation: getting to know our strengths, our integrity, and our quality. Examples might include: inviting us back to go over a proposal, checking our references, introducing us to other key decision-makers. A serious prospect would do one or more of these behaviors. We know this from experience. The challenge is to encourage new prospects to be serious. We call these behaviors “payments in kind” or PIK’s for short. At an early stage of the selling process, we can’t reasonably ask the prospect to send us money. But we can ask for appropriate payments: PIK’s – behaviors appropriate to a serious interaction. If we don’t encourage the prospect to “get to know us”, we force them to make a price buy. This can often be lose/lose. And when this happens, it’s our fault, a failure in selling. We have to “earn the right” to PIK’s. We do this – earn the right – with a focus on meeting the prospect’s urgent need. It wasn’t always so. D. Major Post World War II eras in selling

  1. Social Selling - Noah’s Ark through 1950’s

  2. Facts and Benefits – 1950’s – 1960’s

  3. Solution Selling – 1960’s through 1980’s

  4. Challenging the customer – the modern era – selling on Urgency!

1. Social Selling established pre-flood (Noah’s Ark), effective post WWII Social selling is highly effective in a limited competition environment; for example: in the Post WWII era, where the United States had most of the factories in the World. Companies could compete on: 1) Golf outings 2) Partying 3) Belonging to the right club or social circle Thought Question: Is this as effective as it once was? If not, why not? Thought Question: Did social selling encourage appropriate PIK’s? 2. Facts and Benefits – 1960’s As competition heats up in 1960’s worldwide, sellers have to give prospects actual business reasons to buy: meeting a compelling need. Consider the introduction of audio cassettes as an alternative to records: cassettes are more convenient, portable. Facts and benefits are an early selling effort to meet the challenge of increased competition. It is very effective when social selling is the alternative. For instance:

  • If you need to play music in a remote location, you need audio cassettes. Social relations can’t win the day for records. A key discovery was made: to suggest we choose between social selling and benefits selling is a false dichotomy. We need both.

Social selling gives prospects a reason to hear our story. Benefits’ selling gives prospects a reason to buy. 3. Solution Selling: 1960’s through 1980’s – IBM and Xerox A further market development involves segmenting ma