The Need for Change in Our Approach to Sales
We have all heard the phrase that the only constant is change. As we approach the fall of 2021 and look back on the last couple of years, we can all agree that change is certainly a constant and one that we need to deal with. If we ignore change, we do it at our peril both personally and professionally. Change in itself is not a bad thing. With change comes opportunities. In the not-too-distant past in the AV industry, we experienced an evolutionary change from analog to digital. Our displays radically changed. Our video and postproduction as well as our signal distribution and control evolved. In other words, they changed and changed for the better. But perhaps the most impactful change that we as a society have experienced over the last two decades surrounds the internet and the creation of the new virtual world, we live in.
At the highest level, it is all about the availability of and connectivity to information and acquired knowledge. This coupled with the ability to collaborate instantaneously is the foundation of change and growth. We increasingly have this capability anywhere, at any time, and on any device. With the availability of information at a scale our forefathers never dreamed of, this has changed the technologies we use but just as importantly, the way our technologies are sold and bought.
Every year at InfoComm we celebrate AV, IT, and digital signage technologies. For decades we have focused on the technical “tools in the toolbox” for AV integrators. While this is certainly still relevant, we have left out the other part of the equation, sales, and the buyer relationship. Some might ask why this distinction is so important and I would simply say that the buyer has changed. Their buying process has changed dramatically and we need to modify our sales behaviors relative to those changes. Today the technologies we sell are different but so are the relationships with our customers. Market research shows that the focus in the buyer’s mind is no longer about a product but rather solving the problems they face. From our perspective, it should be understanding and solving those problems and creating an AV experience that adds value beyond the products we sell.
Today as never before, the buyers have access to information long before they reach out to a salesperson. They have an internal discussion with stakeholders in their company before they decide to reach out and seek advice. Research shows that as much as 90% of a decision to buy happens before a salesperson is involved! Suffice it to say the role of the salesperson has changed. It is no longer about “speeds and feeds” and technical jargon but rather solving problems and helping the buyer understand the implication of those problems and how they affect them more clearly than they did without your input. It is often said the three feet across the table from the salesperson to the buyer is the most important part of the sale but it goes beyond that. It is the nature of what is done in that proximity that makes the difference. The role of sales takes on a new meaning and importance and we need to be prepared to address the new reality of the seller/buyer relationship with new skills.
To address the changing role of the salesperson we are launching the new 8-hour sales course we call Sales, Your Role, and the Importance of You. We discuss impediments to new opportunities including the “appearance” of parity and commodity paralysis. We explore the need for differentiation and that today the difference is “you” the salesperson. The course includes:
- The history of sales
- Exploring “you” the salesperson
- Synthesizing today’s sales models
- Differentiate by adding your value
- Understanding customer personalities
- Handling objections/continuances/rejections
- Being productive versus busy
- The buyers, sellers, and influencers.
- Keys to success
The changing role of buyers necessitates a change in the way we sell. By doing so we are in the best position to address the changing needs of the market in a meaningful manner. The only constant is change and it is up to us to understand it, embrace it, and in the end, profit from it both personally and professionally.