The other day, I was speaking with a colleague about the state of sales/selling. We started talking about the irony of change, how our jobs are all about change–yet we, somehow, seem the most resistant to changing how we sell.
Sales/selling has little to do with what we sell. It is strictly about change, helping our customers/prospects recognize the need to change, helping them in that change process. Whether it’s convincing our customers to change vendors or products, helping them address a new opportunity, helping them solve a problem, helping them grow and improve their performance—it’s all about change.
Until our customers recognize and commit to a change, we have no opportunity to help them buy and move forward. Much of the time, the impetus to change is generated by the customer, themselves. They identify a problem, a need, something they want to do. They begin the process of developing the change plan, identifying the things critical to making the change happen. They probably have already started to evaluate alternative solutions and may be looking to buy.
In this case, the customer is managing the change process themselves, we are just supporting something they have already committed to do. This covers only 47% of the committed change initiatives that involve buying.
There’s another customer change opportunity–we aren’t very good at helping customers with it, but if we could become better there is a huge opportunity–for the customer and for us. 53% of customer buying journeys end in no decision made. They simply abandon the process, they get lost, they can’t align agendas on the buying team, they don’t know how to move forward. If we were much better at helping them manage this, if we could help fewer customers abandon their buying journeys, the revenue growth opportunity is stunning. We have the potential of doubling what customers spend with vendors in their change initiatives (Which makes one wonder, why aren’t we spending more time trying to figure this out and reduce the number of No Decision Made?)
Then there is a third opportunity we and our customers miss. It’s those customers that should change, but haven’t yet recognized the necessity to change. They may be so busy managing the day to day, they don’t realize they should change. They may be unaware of opportunities, they may not recognize they could do better, they may be unaware of things their customers, competitors, or markets may be doing. This represents an opportunity to incent the customer to change–and sellers have a huge opportunity to help customers think differently. And this, possibly, dwarfs the opportunities I’ve identified before.
All this is about change! Helping our customers to recognize the need to change, helping them through the change process, helping them implement and realize the results from that change. Imagine the opportunity from companies that have already committed to a change–but fail to navigate it. What if we could help more of them succeed? What if we could help more customers who haven’t recognize the opportunity to change, suddenly commit to doing something new.
The potential revenue from all of these is stunning! The growth that come from this blows away all forecasts. The value we can create with our customers in helping them to succeed in change is astounding!
This is not new, this has always existed.
But somehow we, collectively, miss this. We are chasing after and competing for the smallest amount of spending/purchases available from our customers. We are missing the far greater opportunity–and the part our customers struggle with the most?
How do we address this, how do we seize even a small part of this opportunity?
Here’s the irony………
Drum roll please………
To capture even a small part of this opportunity, we have to change what, how, with who, and why we do what we do! We can’t begin to capture this opportunity by continuing to do what we do. That only enables some share shifting in that 47% of successful buying journeys.
What would we have to do to help more of those 53% who have committed to and funded a change successfully decide? What we are doing isn’t working, so what would we have to change to engage these customers in their own change initiatives?
What about those customers that can and should be re-imagining what they are doing? What do we need to change in our own engagement strategies to identify these customers and help them recognize the need to change?
There is no shortage of opportunity! There is no shortage of growth potential! There should be no reason not to blow away our numbers, there should be no reason why we can profoundly increase the value we create with our customers.
But we can’t do this by continuing to do what we’ve always done. We have to change! We have to figure out what we need to be doing differently. Or what we need to do better. Or what we need to do in addition to that we already do.
The irony of all of this change and change management is that it starts with us and how we change.