Many of you who know me personally know that I am an aviation junkie. I love airplanes and follow aviation trends and new announcements in the industry pretty closely. Yesterday was a big day for people like me. Boeing unveiled their newest airliner, the 787. I have watched the development of this new plane for years and as I watched the launch web cast, I started to think and reflect about how companies transform themselves. I then started to think about how salespeople can transform themselves.
Selling is complex. I have said that many times. Products are more complicated and take new and complex skills to sell. This means that sales professionals need to change, grow and transform themselves over time to stay competitive and create personal marketability. One obvious type (but not the only type) of transformation is from a tactical (product) sales professionals moving to a more consultative (solution) sales professional. I have been observing this for years; I had the wonderful chance to transform who I was as a sales professional during my time at Xerox. I also have taught this change and it remains one of the most rewarding times for me as a sales professional.
Here is what I have discovered:
- Transforming is not easy. It takes an innate sense to move from tactical to consultative sales. I really think you need to see and feel the consultative side of sales. It needs to be natural.
- You will have to develop and use many skills that we hone as people- relationship building and good listening skills are top of mind. In other words, you must “get it”.
- Transformation requires PATIENCE and PRACTICE in abundance. To make this leap successfully, you must know that it takes time and it changes the fundamental way we view clients. I have seen many wonderful tactical sales professionals just not able to make the transition and that%e2%80%99s OK. Not everyone is created the same and we need all kinds of sales professionals to make the world go around.
- Transformation of sales professionals is necessary for companies to grow and compete and it must be supported through well developed training and education. Companies need to nurture and develop their sales force in time of change to make sure that they can sell the portfolio of products.
- Sales professionals have a right to expect that our companies will deliver compensation plans and metrics for success that are in line with our transformation; We are both making an investment. It is very frustrating for companies to enhance products and services for a consultative and solution orientation and expect tactical results. That is a recipe for failure.
- You MUST transform over your career to stay competitive. Period. Would you go to a doctor or a lawyer who has not received any continuing education over the last 10 to 20 years?
Finally, I want to offer this thought to you: If you are feeling restless and stale, then think hard about what you need to do to change that. If you need to commit yourself to a course of sales transformation, that’s a good thing and do it. Press your company and yourself to take the next step in your professional growth. You will only see its upside – and I bet higher sales and commissions in the future!
As always, tell me what you think!