I just read David Brock’s (Partners in Excellence) response to: To Sell More, Scare Customer Spitless by Geoffrey James at BNET. I read the original article, In a Downturn, Provoke Your Customers in the Harvard Business Review. I also read the response from Sales Performance International (SPI), who believed their sales process was libeled in the article (It was).
Brock’s post is here: Provocative Selling – The “Shock and Awe” of Selling. I tend to agree with much of what he says.
Those of you have been here for any time know that I am an avowed agnostic when it comes to the sales process, believing instead that being professional means being effective even when we fall off of the sales process road map. I have to be honest here, if you are not already enough of an expert in your industry to know how help your clients and prospects with their as-yet-unperceived threats, you are woefully behind the curve (as well as not very helpful). Moreover, if you have not yet figured out how to motivate your complacent prospects to take action, then frightening the shit out of them is probably not a great methodology (here I agree with James, most are not going to easily and effectively pull this off).
Here is Brock’s money quote (emphasis mine):
I’m actually quite excited about the conversaton Provocative Selling is causing in the sales community. I see it as a wake up call for all professional sales people. It is not a new concept, start ups have been doing it for years. Consultants do it all the time. Great sales professionals do this every day. If anything, Provocative Selling reminds us of what we should be doing every day. We need to move it from a “crisis” to standard execution.
More than having sales professionals embrace it, I hope customers embrace it. I hope it becomes the standard expectation that all customers have of their suppliers and vendors. I hope each customer expects the people selling to them should be bringing them ideas and solutions for growing and improving their businesses. It raises the bar on sales perfromance, sets a new standard. Those sales people that can meet that new standard will separate themselves from all others, creating differentiated and sustained value!
In my mind, this comes down to style: simple Provocateur or Trusted Adviser. Both will proactively show you the blind spots. Both will compel you take action. One of them you will hope to see again in the future. The other, I suspect, will have worn out his welcome at his second provocation (let that simmer).
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Filed under: Sales 3.0