I was struck by a post by Steve Hall on LinkedIn. Steve and I share a similar sense of humor and perspectives on selling.
It’s funny, over the years, I never really heard a lot of complaining about how tough selling is, at least until recently. Of course, we have always been morally obligated to whine about our quotas when they are assigned. We are should be disappointed when we lose a deal that we have worked so hard on. We get frustrated when we are trying to make things happen, but they don’t. We get impatient with what seems to be an increasing overhead that distracts us from doing our jobs.
Getting customers to respond to our outreaches, getting customers to meet with us is so much tougher. We have mountains of data supporting how much more it takes to engage customers and how they actually prefer “rep-free” buying experiences. The latest “gem” from Gartner suggest 66 outreaches for one meeting and 72% of buyers preferring rep free buying experiences.
But when we look at what’s caused this, it turns out to be us! The things we inflict on our customers and each other is making the job much tougher than it should be.
And we make it tougher for buyers. Buying was already very difficult. The risks to the buying group, the consequences of making a bad decision or “messing up,” is profound. It impacts not only the buyers, but their companies.
We make it tougher for both ourselves and our customers, by not focusing on what interests and engages them. Instead of talking about them, their business, their challenges and opportunities, we focus on ourselves, our companies, and what we sell. Too many, don’t even understand the customer and their business, so they don’t even know how to talk to the customer. All of this leaves the heavy lifting to the customer. They have to figure out whether they should do something about the issue. If customers get little value working with sellers, then it is reasonable to see them searching for answers in different places.
Despite the hundreds of millions being spent on tools, training, content, enablement, results are declining.
And, rather than pausing and rethinking what we do, how we do it, we continue to remain committed to doing more of what has been proven not to work.
We make it tougher by failing to do the things research, data, and our experience tells us work–because it’s hard work. We look for the easy answer, the miracle cures, which usually only work for the person selling it, but really distracts us and make it tougher for us.
Selling is tough, but too often, we make it much tougher than it need be.
But in the end, being a seller is a choice. If we aren’t committed to doing the hard work. If we aren’t committed to being purposeful and focused, then it will always be tougher than it need be, and we will fail to achieve what we want to achieve.
I have to confess, I’m relatively unsympathetic to whining about how tough selling is, particularly when those making the most noise tend to be those that make it tougher than it need be.
I suppose, this is my version of, “When the going gets tough, the tough……..”