We are selling in a world on an extended tilted axis. A world where many of our prospective buying organisations are yet again all but closed, and where the focus of buying for those that are still running anywhere near normal, is on an “absolute necessity only” basis. And, despite the fantastic work the world’s scientists done to produce vaccines, we are clearly looking at many months, if not even years before things get back to normal levels of commerce across most of the world’s industries.
This makes the outlook for the difficult job of B2B selling extremely challenging. So we have to ask ourselves “what can we in the business of selling do to support organisations in their quest to improve the way they obtain and service their customers?”; and “what can we offer these organisations to help them be more competitive in this ongoing volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world?”
Organisations that are facing, or are striving to avoid crisis, really do not want to be sold products or services in the traditional way. The truth is, they never did. But now more than ever, they want and need solutions to their urgent and most pressing problems. But, unbelievably, too many sales and marketing messages out there have not yet changed. They fail to reflect the new reality. And they do not reflect the new need.
This failure to understand, or respond to the what has clearly become a completely different world, will be terminal for many selling companies. They will go out of business either quickly, or slowly and painfully over the next year or so.
It is time for companies that wish to succeed in this new world to reinvent the way that they go to market. It is time for them to focus on helping existing and prospective customers survive in their own volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous worlds.
Transformational Value or Critical Commodity?
At one level, the events of the past year has 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 this global Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on all sectors has accelerated and amplified this polarisation.
Yes, some types of commodity, for example critical health care products, 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 and transformational value in the new world. They will also be looking out for what will bring their customers market advantage, operational flexibility, and reduced risk.
The New Normal
It now seems a fair bet that the shape of the world of commerce will be drastically different for the foreseeable future. Salespeople and sales leaders will therefore have to adapt to what we confidently 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? In either role, 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 compelling 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 culture of 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 the ongoing pandemic will surely 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 and coordinate this reinvention across their channels to market and across their sales teams. They will also need to practise collaboration and promote new levels of real-time alignment between the sales and marketing functions. Only then will the prospecting “funnel” be able to work in a way that stays effective in the constantly changing 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.
We can help you reinvent
Sales transformation is our field of expertise. If you are interested in talking about how you can ‘reinvent’ your company’s B2B sales performance or refresh your company’s approach to selling, please contact us for a free consultation at [email protected]