Book #3: New Era of Sales
Salespeople everywhere are trying to penetrate deeper, wider, and more strategic within their target accounts. Meanwhile, decision makers are no longer willing to be pressured or probed by an aggressive salesperson whose motivations are driven primarily by monthly, quarterly, or annual sales objectives.
Teaching people how to sell is one thing. Teaching sellers how to prevail in a rapidly changing, and increasingly standoffish business environment is different ball of wax altogether.
What if were possible to reverse this trend, where sellers were perceived as thought-leaders and valuable resources, as opposed to just another sales caller? Similarly, what if it were possible to shed some of the old-school sales tactics that cause sellers to commoditize their value propositions instead of differentiating them?
The New Era of Salesmanship further expands the QBS methodology with a direct and realistic perspective on how to sidestep many of the risks sellers now face as the result of increased customer skepticism.
If you are willing to step outside the box of traditional sales thinking, you will discover significant upside with regard to enhancing your own strategic effectiveness, as well as the performance of your entire sales team. Positive change is eminent and there’s no time to waste. A new era of salesmanship has definitely begun!
By the time someone graduates from college, they have completed seventeen years of format education. But in that time, they didn’t attend a single class on how to raise a child, and they haven’t been taught the first thing about how to sell—which ironically, are two of the most important functions an adult will be asked to perform in their lifetime.
I left the corporate world after 17 successful years in the trenches of sales and management. My original intention was simple—to capture whatever had enabled me to become successful as a salesperson, and to somehow bottle it into a system that could then be transferred to increase the effectiveness of other salespeople and sales organizations. Hence, the QBS Methodology was born, and the journey I embarked on several years ago has far exceeded my wildest expectations, having published three books on sales effectiveness and had the opportunity to train literally thousands of salespeople all over the world.
This journey is far from over, however. Training other sales professionals provides an ongoing learning experience for me. In fact, I have found that my perspective on selling continues to evolve, which is why this work represents an intentional departure from my first two books, Secrets of Question Based Selling and It Only Takes 1% to Have a Competitive Edge in Sales.
Prior to this project, most of my training and development efforts were focused on raising the bar in terms of increasing the productivity of individual salespersons. In essence, improving the professional selling skills of the individual performers on a sales team can significantly increase top-line revenue generated by the larger sales organization, as well as affect the bottom-line profitability of the corporation. We have successfully proven this theory many times over at hundreds of client accounts.
There is another piece to the puzzle, however. In addition to raising the level of one’s own selling skills, I have discovered that there is a similar opportunity to increase the sales effectiveness of the broader organization, which is equally important to the overall success of a company. That’s why my objective with this book extends beyond the base concepts taught in Question Based Selling™, and focuses on the larger opportunity of “culturalizing” the QBS Methodology across the entire sales organization.
Human nature says that people are creatures of habit. Consequently, we tend to gravitate naturally to whatever feels most comfortable. Of course, most salespeople are going to feel most “comfortable” with whatever they have done in the past. This brings us to somewhat of a crossroads in one’s own personal development as a sales professional, where you must choose to either maintain the status quo and continue using the same approach, or step back and make some conscious decisions with regard to selling strategies and techniques that will provide the greatest competitive advantage as the business environment continues to evolve.
The fundamentals of selling are still the same. Salespeople must uncover needs before they can provide solutions, and customers still need to be able to cost-justify a purchase before moving forward with a decision. And yes, relationship building is also important because people still buy from people. But, the nuances of the strategic sale have changed dramatically and differentiating yourself from the competition is now the key.
I realize that change is difficult. It’s a natural reaction. Most people are averse to changing their approach because change means risk, and risk takes us out of our comfort zone. That’s why I am going to use the word, ‘choose’. To have a lasting impact on bottom line performance, we must choose to adapt our approach to changing market conditions, which generally requires a catalyst that will motivate salespeople to step outside the box of traditional thinking.
Truth be told, sellers are going to change their approach anyway. Market dynamics will continue to evolve over time. Product offerings will change. Even your competitors are continuously adjusting their approach in an attempt to secure a more strategic position in the marketplace. You will also change as you gain experience and mature as a professional with every business situation you face. So, the way I see it, change in sales is a given. The question is, are you open to being proactive with regard to change, which includes making some conscious decisions about maximizing your strategic effectiveness in your respective markets?
My philosophy as a salesperson was relatively simple. Give me an opportunity to succeed, give me a company that is willing to support my efforts, and most importantly, give me some control over my own destiny to differentiate myself and my company from the rest of the “noise” in the marketplace. That’s what this book was intended to achieve—giving salespeople control over their own destinies, to differentiate themselves and their products, in order to achieve the highest levels of success in the profession of selling.
My strategy on this project was not to reinvent the QBS Methodology or to try and re-articulate concepts that have already been explained in previous works. Rather, the idea in this book is to build on existing concepts in an effort to merge QBS philosophy together with an implementation strategy that provides a fully integrated success formula enabling sales organizations to get deeper, wider, and more strategic within their target accounts. Action items have been included at the end of each chapter to help put the lessons learned from the book into daily practice.
Have I succeeded in creating an implementation guide that will facilitate the culturalization of QBS across the broader organization? The answer to that question will likely be revealed shortly after you finish reading this book. If your pipeline expands dramatically and something I said causes your sales results to skyrocket, then we both will have accomplished mutual objectives, and everybody wins!
—Thomas A. Freese