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Five Lies About Selling

Here are five lies about sales and selling. Don’t believe them.

  1. Solutions Selling is Dead: Pure, unadulterated bullshit. Has selling changed? Absolutely. Has buying changed? Perhaps, but not as much as is being touted (at least not in B2B sales). The idea behind solutions selling is that you collaborate with your clients to understand their business needs, whether it is pain or latent pain, and develop consensus around a solution that moves their business forward. It’s a process that starts at target and ends at close, covering all of the stages in between. The process is mostly good fundamentals, and it is anything but dead.
  2. Pain Is Dead: Hair-splitting. People buy when they are dissatisfied. If they don’t know they’re dissatisfied and you motivate them to change, you aren’t helping them by ensuring they remain satisfied. Selling is helping to move your client to a better place. Better than what? Better than where they are now. If they didn’t know their results could be better, you created the pain, or you developed the latent dissatisfaction. If you help your clients capitalize on an opportunity they didn’t know existed, the gap you introduced them them to is the source of their dissatisfaction. Try to be compelling without pain.
  3. Relationship Selling Is Dead This lie should come with it’s own hazard suit. You don’t want to get any on you. Anyone who has successfully sold knows that the very heart of their success has been built on relationships of value, both inside their company and out. Imagine you have two opportunities. In the first opportunity, you have developed relationships with all of their stakeholders, you have access, and you have a deep understanding of their needs. You have developed trust. In the second opportunity, you are unknown, you’ve had no real access, and your prospective buyer doesn’t know that you understand their needs. You just don’t have a relationship. But let’s assume what is true about you in the first opportunity is true about your competitor in the second. Which deal are you going to win? Which deal is your competitor going to win?
  4. Cold Calling is Dead: This is a special lie. It belongs to charlatans selling greenhorns a book, a program, or a package that promises they’ll never have to make the uncomfortable “ask.” The charlatan’s target market is those susceptible to believing the fairy tales that social media and inbound marketing alone are enough to make your number. Is every method effective? Should your playbook be more than cold calling? Absolutely. But you still need to pick up the phone.
  5. Buyers Have a Process: They don’t. Certainly they go through the stages of a buyer’s journey (dissatisfaction, recognition of needs, exploring options, avoiding risk). But they don’t have a formal process (if they do, you’re selling to purchasing). Buyers hope you know how to help them figure out what they need, build consensus within their organization, and write the business case for their management team. Buyers don’t have a process, and if they do then it mostly leads to a no decision. Better you believe the truth which is somewhere closer to you helping your buyer with a process.

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Comments

comments

  • Mike Kunkle

    and . Thank God someone said all this!

    Some might argue that saying “buyer’s don’t have a process but have a journey” is the same level of hair-splitting as the pain/dissatisfaction thing (although I like dissatisfaction much better, personally). A friend of mine (Guy Wallace) says, “It’s not just semantics, it’s ALL semantics.” As Socrates is quoted, “The beginning of wisdom is the definition of terms.”
    It’s a big challenge in our profession, for sure.

    On the “Solutions Selling” thing, there’s some semantics around that, as well. I’d think of what you describe as Consultative Selling, but again… semantics.

    I’m somewhat less impartial these days than I used to be but I really like the way Richardson approaches this. Selling is about great dialogue.

    There’s a place for needs-based dialogue (consultative selling) and uncovering and meeting needs. That place (time) is when the customer has needs that they’re aware of.

    Other times, as a rep, you may need to approach the prospect or client with ideas to create needs (help them see a real need that they haven’t been focused on) or shape a recognized need (perhaps based on things they haven’t quite considered deeply enough yet).

    In all cases, though, it’s based on authentic dialogue.

    Relationships are always a part of it (although in my personal opinion, to a degree, this is based on how the buyer operates… how they are wired). But trust is especially critical, and I don’t see that one changing in the foreseeable future, either.

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