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SELLING IS SIMPLE – WHY COMPLICATE IT?

Before writing this newsletter I searched for “sales techniques” on Google. The search yielded 146 million hits! That’s not to say that there are that many sales techniques though at times it seems like it. Here are just a few, solution selling, relationship selling, the challenger sale, provocative selling, Miller Heiman’s strategic selling, Huthwaite’s SPIN and power selling just to name a few. I have been asked many times which of these is best, or is there a panacea for selling or can I recommend a really innovative sales training organisation? My answer never varies; I always say that selling is about doing the simple things right. After all a sales person, or whatever variant of job title they wish to put on their business card, only has to find someone who needs what they have to offer, has the means to pay for it, knows why and when it is needed and can be convinced that your offer is superior to anything else available. What can be simpler than that? Well clearly it can’t be that simple as many organisations have made many millions of pounds through convincing sales directors and managers that they can make the process of selling even simpler and more productive. In reality they have made it more complex.

Here is a quote from the website of one such supplier; “Achieving sales excellence requires strategic alignment and consistent performance from every member of your sales team”. I agree with the bulk of this statement, but I am not sure what strategic alignment is. In any case isn’t this the responsibility of the sales director/manager. It goes on to say “Our process significantly improves the odds of winning complex sales opportunities. It gives organizations a common process and language for pursuing sales opportunities and criteria for allocating resources to determine when to walk away from resource-intensive deals with a low probability of success”. I would say any half decent sales organisation should have a process to improve the chances of winning, it is called account and campaign planning. They also have a common, relatively jargon free/understandable language and if they are not practicing qualification then they will lose business whether it is resource intensive or not. Earlier I said selling is a simple process, sales management or leadership is simple too. Sales leaders have only three tasks. Get the most out of their people, dedicate time to building relationships with their customers to understand their needs and pains to deliver better solutions, and manage the numbers. (There’s more on this topic in the SalesPulse issue number 3).

I am not saying that sales techniques companies are wrong, they are very successful so why should I? I am merely questioning their value for money. Key to delivering consistent sales performance are well skilled, knowledgeable and motivated sales people doing the simple things right, led by managers committed to supporting them. If it’s simple less things can go wrong. Our approach to improving sales performances focuses on this and you can read about it it by clicking here.

Remember there were great sales people long before Miller Heiman, Huthwaite or salesforce.com. How did they manage?