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What’s The Future Of Buying?

by David Brock on March 4th, 2010

To say things are changing is almost trite, with the confluence of the new economy, globalization, social media, globalization, new and different competition, new and different growth opportunities, we must rethink everything we do in business.

For some time, I have been thinking, reading, researching, and talking a lot about the future of selling.  Where are we going as a profession?  What’s the next step function change in how we sell and create value for our customers?  What are the critical skills, processes, methods and tools we need to embrace to perform at a higher level?

There have been some interesting discussions about this in the “blog world,” but often, I feel like Bill Murray in the movie, Ground Hog Day.  Much of the conversation revolves around doing what we are doing, only faster, better and with fewer resources.   To some degree, that’s true.  There is always room to improve what we do and how we execute.  But I’m convinced we are on the brink of some very significant changes in selling–many that may be thrust on us, without being prepared.

I have realized asking “What is the future of selling,” is the wrong question.  Also, I’m  probably asking many of the wrong people–sales people and executives.  Please, don’t get me wrong, there have been many great ideas and thought provoking discussions, but to some degree, we are prisoners of our own experience.  The discussions seem to be incremental improvement of what we already do, or how to execute consultative/customer focused/solutions/provocative selling more effectively

I have realized that I need to change the question, broaden the audience, and look at things differently.  I think the way we will discover the future of selling is to look at, “What’s the future of buying?” Duuuuugh!  No I mean it, why don’t we engage “buyers” in the discussion?  Why don’t we step back from the transactions and deals and start looking at the overall process and business environment differently?

I started writing a little about this last month:  Rethinking The Customer Buying Experience.

I’ve started having some conversations with some other folks and have decided to kick-off a kind of open source project called The Future Of Buying.  My vision is to have a 1-2 day conference, probably in May-June, where we get some smart people in a room (maybe several rooms) and we kick around the idea in a semi-structured way.  We will video and write about the results, and each participant can leverage the results in whatever way they want.

I want to engage any of you that want to participate! I also want to bring in great thinkers in procurement, supply chain management, product marketing/management, finance, OD, social media/networking, partnering/alliances and customer experience design.  This will not be a session for consultants to pontificate, but it is an open brainstorming session to look at the future of buying–consequently the future of selling.

We all know that collaboration is going to be critical in whatever that future is, so wouldn’t it be interesting if we started collaborating on it now?  Wouldn’t it be interesting if we applied some design thinking to looking at our future.

Now all this build up is to ask you for something.  I’d love your ideas and thoughts on the topics:  What’s the Future of Buying (and Selling). If I am crazy or looking at this the wrong way, please let me know.  If you want to participate in this crazy endeavor (thinking of the conference in May/June), let me know.  If you know someone who should participate, let me know.

To help capture your feedback and ideas, I’ve set up a form What’s The Future Of Buying? Please give me your thoughts and input.  For those of you providing feedback and ideas, I’ll provide a detailed report of what others are saying (anonymous, if requested).

I’ve talked about this idea with a number of you already.  I’ve gotten extremely enthusiastic support.  It can be an exciting project with great ideas each of us can apply to our own organizations.  I look forward to your feedback, ideas, and participation.  Thank you so much for your help!

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  1. Hi Dave

    Love the idea. We’d love to contribute where we can.

    We are about to release a book on the exact topic ( The book talks about how B2B buying decisions are now being made and how sales teams can influence them.

    As mentioned at the SLI event in Dublin, we have gone out and talked to buyers (i.e. senior decision makers responsible for buying decisions) in some of the worlds largest organization to find out how buying has changed and the implications for sellers. The how, why and who of modern buying when revealed is complex and even scary in places!

    The buyers we have spoken to in Fortune 1000 organizations have told us “the number one challenge facing sales organizations is to adapt how they sell to reflect the changed nature of corporate buying practices”. Food for thought.

    I will give you a call over the next week. I’d like to talk to you about our benchmarking of buyer sophistication.

    We might get a trip over to see you during the summer.

    All the best

    • John, thanks for the comment and alerting us to your book. I’m looking forward to seeing it in the next month or so.

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