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What Got Us Here Won’t Get Us To Where We Need To Be!

by David Brock on October 14th, 2021

The one thing constant in this world is change! Thankfully, if this wasn’t a universal constant, the prospects for all sellers would be bleak. If our customers see no reason to change, there is no reason to buy.

So it’s the need to change, the recognition, by our customers, that what is currently working, might be improved or done differently, alternatively, the need to do something new to address new opportunities that keeps us in business.

Customers start buying cycles, inviting us to work with them, or we incite them to change, out of the recognition that what got them to where they are won’t get them to where they need or aspire to be.

If this is a universal truth for 100% of our customers, why wouldn’t the same apply to every seller and sales organization in the world? Since the very basis of our existence in business is the need to change, why do we so steadfastly continue to do the same thing, day after day, year after year, despite the data showing it is no longer as impactful as it used to be?

Despite $100’s of millions spent in research, $ billions spent in consultant fees, training and other services, $100’s of millions spent on books, and 100’s of thousands of articles talking about the need to change, somehow we seem to be stuck in the same conundrum.

Our customers tell us directly and through their behaviors that we are no longer as important to them as we thought we used to be. Customers are actively looking for alternatives to learning about new methods, new ideas, new products–and they are finding them.

Yet our response is not to change but just double or triple down on the same old things we always have done.

From the very first interaction with the customer through all subsequent interactions, our focus is on us, our companies, and our products.

We focus on our interests, getting the order as efficiently as possible, rather than recognizing the only way we achieve that outcome is if the customer achieves the outcome that caused them to need to change.

Even our customers’ buying challenges have changed. The key challenge is less about selecting a product or solution, but managing their own buying process. Their businesses are increasingly complex, more people are involved in the buying/change management process, the risks are different.

Their buying issues are not, “Did we select the right product,” but “Are we making the right business/personal decisions for our organizations?” It’s about the whole change process. Ultimately it’s about their decision confidence in the choices they’ve made and the plans they’ve put in place on their change initiatives.

The help they need, the greatest value they can get is with theses issues and less about which product to select (particularly when any product choice they make will work).

Despite knowing this what our customers want and need, we ignore it, continuing to pitch our products, seeking greater volumes and velocities to achieve our goals.

Our own data show these strategies of focusing on our products and orders shows it is increasingly a failing strategy. The percent of sales people achieving goals continues to plummet. Tenure continues to fall. We are only able to achieve our goals by doing more faster–but that is unsustainable. Our customers are choosing not to see us and we struggle with how to change them, without thinking that maybe it’s we that need to change.

Here’s a crazy, bordering on outlandish idea.

How do we become better at helping customers dealing with the real issues they face in buying and change? Perhaps if we became better at changing ourselves, we can apply what we have learned about change in helping them succeed. What if we became students of our own change initiatives, leveraging that in supporting our customers?

Sadly, I suspect that’s too obvious.. Even though we see the consistently highest performing sales organizations have already recognized this and are engaging their customers differently, we ignore that, continuing to do more of the same.

And that seems to be the unfortunate conundrum that all but the best are stuck in.

What’s it take for us to change?

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