We are selling in a world on a tilted axis. A world where many buying organisations are closed, and where the focus of buying for those that are still running, is on an “absolute necessity only” basis.
This makes the difficult job of selling even more challenging. So we have to ask ourselves “what can we in the business of selling do to support organisations that are still open for business?”; “What can we offer these organisations to help them be more competitive in this volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous new world?”
Organisations in crisis really do not want to be sold “stuff”. They want and need solutions to their urgent and most pressing problems. But too many sales and marketing messages out there just have not changed. They fail to reflect the new reality. And they do not reflect the new need.
This failure to understand, or respond to the new normal, will be terminal for many selling companies. They will go out of business. It is time for companies to reinvent the way that they go to market. It is time for them to help their existing and prospective customers survive in their own volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous worlds, like never before.
Value or Critical Commodity?
At one level, the events of the past few months have just accelerated and accentuated changes that were already happening in the selling landscape.
The polarisation of buying decisions between price-driven commodity purchase and value-driven solutions to business problems was happening anyway. But the Covid-19 crisis and its impact on all sectors has accelerated and amplified this polarisation.
Yes, some types of commodity, for example medical PPE, are currently in urgent need and in short supply. Yes, the sellers of these commodities can command a premium. But that premium will be short lived and will carry a reputational consequence once supply catches up with demand.
Those selling companies that do have a future in the new world will be totally focused on what will bring their existing and prospective customers strategic value in the new world. They will also be looking out for what will bring them market advantage, what will bring them flexibility, and what will reduce their risks.
The New Normal
It now seems a fair bet that the shape of the world economy will be drastically different for the foreseeable future. Salespeople and sales leaders will therefore have to adapt to what I predict will be a permanently more demanding and more selective marketplace.
So, what does that mean for you as a salesperson? What does it mean for you as a sales leader? It means you will have to review, refresh, and update your offers to maintain relevance constantly and habitually. You will have to make your offers even more relevant in terms of the value they will provide, you will need to make them even more specific and clear in terms of the challenges they will address, and even more flexible in terms of how they will be implemented. Then you will have to do it all over again, and again. Reinvent. Refresh. Renew.
Those individuals and companies that have already evolved and reinvented their approach to selling in a VUCA [volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous] world will continue to thrive, despite the game-changing impact of Covid-19, since their evolution and reinvention will allow them to adapt again and again. Furthermore, those that had already started the reinvention will have to make the necessary changes a more urgent priority. Those that are yet to change need to act fast, or surely become a casualty of the economic shake-out that Covid-19 will bring.
Survival of the “New Fittest”
Now, far more than ever before, it is survival of the fittest in the selling world. But what could be deemed “the fittest” before the world changed will no longer be the fittest now, and certainly will not be when the world changes again.
Salespeople will need new knowledge, new skills, and new behaviours to be successful in this new world. They will need to get closer to their customers, despite the restrictions of social distancing and limited travel.
Sales leaders will need to enable this reinvention across their sales teams. They will need to practise collaboration and promote real alignment between sales and marketing. Only then will the prospecting “funnel” be able to work in the new landscape.
Amongst all this volatility and uncertainty, now is the time to become more agile in the way you communicate with your target markets in a relevant way that adds value. Now is the time to reinvent yourself, to reinvent your proposition, and to reinvent the value you and your teams deliver to your customers, your prospects, and your employers. Reinvent. Refresh. Renew.