With all the hoopla around Solution Selling in various forms of power and centricity [references to: Power Selling by Steven Power and CustomerCentric Selling by Bosworth, Holland, and Visgatis] one fact remains clear the customer is still, and ultimately, in control of the sale.
For many sales folks that have been around the block, as I have, we could spend endless hours debating that statement. We could start by defining control and how that affects the sale; we could debate the spectacular sales skills of the seasoned professional and how those skills sealed the deal; but, I fear, in the end, the discussion would become more about the salesperson's ego.
The career I have followed has taken crazy leaps and bounds in various industries and departments. I have had the opportunity to work in the manufacturing, health care, education, distribution and retail industries, both from a technical and a sales perspective. Previous certifications I hold include SCO UNIX ACE (Advanced Certified Engineer) and SCO UNIX Authorized Instructor, and yet, today, I find myself in a business development position in sales. Now, you may be wondering why Im sharing this information with you and what it has to do with Solution Selling and the customer being in control of the sale
Here it is back in the day when we only knew one name [reference to: IKON I Know One Name; IKON Office Solutions is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Ricoh Corporation], the sales training that they provided was exceptional. Their training department received numerous awards in the industry for excellence in sales training. It was during that time that I made the decision to take a break from the IT industry and take the leap into equipment sales. Fortunately for me, the sales training I received was undoubtedly top notch with the resounding message: to assess the needs of the customer in order to propose the right solution.
Since that time, I have held many positions in technology sales [Finally a Geek with a Sales Mentality!]. And, while holding firm to addressing the customers needs first, I have been successful. Sale after sale, I find myself meeting, discussing and understanding the customers need to change, an end goal, and with the customer, marrying a solution to fit those needs.
It is also clear that throughout each sales process, the customer has a buying process. The challenges in sales are: to understand the customers goals and objectives for a given project, to identify where they are in the buying process and support their efforts, and to provide a clear solution to meet the goals and objectives.
Currently, I am leading the discussions in the sales meetings with the book, Slow Down, Sell Faster by Kevin Davis. The Sales Process Wheel identifies 8 stages of the customer buying cycle coupled with 8 stages of the responsibilities of the sales person to support the buying cycle. By keeping in mind that the customer is in control of the sale, we can support their efforts and build a stronger solution together.
As for myself, I will continue to engage in the sales process, offering the services and products of the technology solutions of Pinnacle. Remember that if you receive an email or call from me, you can be sure that I understand that you are in control of the sales process and that my efforts will be to support you and, together, with the Pinnacle team, define the best solution to meet your goals and objectives.
Kevin Davis says it best [Slow Down, Sell Faster], a customer is not a customer until they buy the second time. My goal is to build life-long customers.