March 31, 2012 Keenan

The Growing Chasm Between Sales Person 1.0 and Sales Person 2.0

I feel there is a chasm growing in sales between those who are embracing Sales 2.0 and those who are not.

I’m not sure why, but I’ve always felt sales people and sales leaders can be some of the slowest adopters and critics of change. When things work, we stick with them. Sales people don’t change very quickly. It’s always been odd to me that people in such a dynamic occupation are so resistant to change. You’d think working in dynamic environment would attract dynamic people.

Sales isn’t changing. The science behind decision making is no different than before.  The “immutable laws” of selling are strongly entrenched. They will never change.

  1. There has to be a need for change.
  2. There benefit of change as to be substantial enough to warrant the change.
  3. The prospect has to have confidence the outcome is achievable.
  4. The outcome must be persuasive enough so the prospect can get others on board.
  5. The prospect must be able to clearly see the process of the change and how it’s going to happen.

Although the basic laws of selling aren’t changing, how we address these laws is changing big time. The “how” of sales is absolutely evolving.  What we used to focus on, the approaches we take and the tools we use are undergoing tremendous change.  Some of us are embracing them, but just as many of us aren’t and it feels like the chasm is growing.

What do you think? Do you see the same thing? Are you seeing two camps of sales people?  Is the chasm growing?  If the chasm is growing, why? Why are so many of us NOT getting on board with the changes?

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Comments (7)

  1. The chasm is there, no question. I have been observing ______ sales people falling into one of these general categories:
    1) currently have a repeatable, established book of business that is feeding the revenue stream.
    2) struggling to produce so blaming the economy, internet pricing and competition, while not taking initiative to learn new techniques and tools.
    3) new hires that are jumping in with both feet, learning from the producers the value of consistency, while demanding new tools and training from their leaders as well as grabbing available learning independently.

  2. I believe that on a dynamic scale, sales people are forced to be an intermediary position. 

    For simplification think of the product team – they are more dynamic then the sales people – they are (hopefully) seeing things in a new way – finding and implementing a creative approach to an existing need.

    If the product team would try to sell the product they would probably fail. They are too far removed from the current situation to make a viable link with customers. Therefore, their work is handed over to sales-people who now need to build a bridge between their (product team) dynamic thinking and the more (relatively) static market place.

    It seems to me that by definition, sales need to “less dynamic” then the product team in order to bring a dynamic and forward thinking to market. Their job is to connect between different levels of dynamics. On the one hand they are tempering the product and on the other hand they are trying to stimulate the market place … so that the two can meet.

    When I was working as a product designer I often encouraged a representation of sales people on the product team so that the gap would be less dramatic and the product wouldn’t be out of touch with the market place. It was a hard idea to sell to product teams :)

  3. There are a lot of sales people who have embraced the new tools and selling approaches required today. I don’t see this as being a product/sales issue. Nor do I see it has fundamental buying issue. The tool, engagement, and approach level is changing and too many sales people aren’t accepting the change.

  4. of course there are … and many more will catch up … but it will inevitably be a lagged process because the process of sales deals with a crowd (prospects) that are lagging behind.

    think of your new eBook about cold calling … that is old technique and yet you still recommend it … this to say that the reality in which sales people operate is still in some ways static … and I believe that if sales reach too far into dynamics of “Sales 2.0″ they may over-reach and miss their targets.

    you and I have had this conversation before … you are being critical of reality “there is a chasm growing in sales” and I am trying to describe it for what it is … that chasm serves a purpose.

  5. Gregory ODonnell

    Hello Jim, I passed along your link and website on my blog, I have not yet read your book but would like to shortly and I will provide some comments on my blog gregoryodonnell.tumblr.com which I call Success Talk, essentially I am trying to create an online community of people that want to talk about  success.
    Thanks,
    Greg

  6. Anneke Seley

    Hi Jim.

    Great conversation. Love your Immutable Laws of Selling! 

    Forward-thinking individuals or groups (often the inside sales team) within organizations can drive change from Sales 1.0 to Sales 2.0, sell the benefits internally and prove that the new Sales 2.0 approaches produce superior results. You and I and many of the participants here – the outside community of “experts”- are champions who can help them close the chasm by helping them:
    -Articulate the need in terms specific to that individual/company. Perhaps they are losing market share in the SMB, their cost of sale is too high, customers are not renewing, etc.-Give meaningful examples of the benefits of change that will resonate with their senior management/Board – through success data and metrics, case studies of similar companies, industry research, etc.-Pilot the programs internally, starting small and with low-risk – prove the concept first before making wholesale changes.
    -Promote the successes (make a hero out of your internal champion) and continue to make changes slowly….until you’ve transformed an organization!

    While I see the chasm, I try to appreciate that change is difficult,
    scary/risky, especially when money is at stake and when organizations
    are well-established (or reps have been selling successfully using 1.0
    practices for decades.) I suggest we celebrate the small changes! In my experience, those unwilling to change eventually come around when they have time to get comfortable with the change and can see proof of improved results. Either that, or they leave!

    Since I tend to hang around Sales 2.0 thinkers, I don’t let the chasm get me down. :-)

  7. Hey Anneke,

    I agree, I think the forward thinking folks will pull the laggards forward. That being said, social media isn’t intuitive, therefore even the success of the early adopters may not be enough, thus the growing chasm.
    I like your outlook though. Here is to celebrating the small changes and not letting the chasm get us down.
    Thanks girl!

    //keenan

    Sent from my iPad – therefore please excuse any blatant spelling or grammatical errors, I blame the on-screen keypad.

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