Today's post was written by guest blogger Kraig R. Brown, SVP of Sales, PGi
Times change, landscapes change, and when radical economic change happens, the vehicles we use to navigate the sales terrain will need to be adapted, as well. Selling is a lot of things, but at its core, selling is all about adapting to the dynamic and colorful scenery we find ourselves in. Remember this key point: Without historic change periodically, selling opportunities would stagnate.
Selling used to be a game of feet on the street. Covering a territory meant cranking up the combustible, revving the engine, cranking cups of coffee, and seeing how many firm handshakes you could get going in a day. Then, the firm handshake was slowly supplemented by electronic “handshakes.”
And the landscape began to be more about what you could get done with your “feet in the seat.”
The dynamic duo of phone and computer meant new adaptations to garner and harness the power of doing much of the legwork with your legs stuffed under the desk. The reach improved, productivity improved, and the cost of selling improved, and within a few short years the paradigm of the new selling forces included electronic engines that in many cases have replaced combustible ones.
Funny how the formal college education can cross disciplines and teach you things it never intended. I had always been fascinated with language, and during one of the drier linguistics classes I had ever endured, a small nugget somehow lodged in my mind: Languages, I was told, like rivers, will always be on the move toward simplifying.
Over the years, this principle in nature and economies to find the fastest and least-complex route to the greatest benefit at the least overall cost is the key driver behind the latest global shock that we call a recession. But in fact, this idea is nothing more than a natural consequence of the changes put into effect decades ago. My grandfather used to say, “Don’t be shocked if you plant corn seeds and get corn. Be shocked if you plant corn seeds and yield wheat.”
Adapt your Selling Strategy
There are three (at least) strategies that your company needs to bridge the latest changes that have occurred. Each day the new landscape emerges from the dust cloud to become more visible, as does the new economy we are selling into.
First, every company must have a technology road map in place that includes an integrated video strategy for almost every aspect of the prospect/client/partner relationship.
One of the missing pieces to the evolution of the transition from feet on the street to feet in the seat is the all important face-to-face meeting. At the end of the day, we are human beings, and connecting face-to-face creates a tangible connection, if not an emotional connection with the company or person we are partnering with. But this can be done today without ever throwing the first carbon atom at the ozone.
Secondly, there needs to be a full-court press to install the feet in the seat forces at the center of your selling and sales-support strategy.
The lingering bias continuously directed toward inside sales continues to amaze me. Most savvy CEOs long ago understood its economic potential, but combined with the video-collaboration technology today, the opportunity to transform the cost of selling and take it to the next level has never been more necessary. In this new economy, your top and bottom lines will do much better once you set the course to the new core selling model. Does this mean that field sales are over? No. It means that the fulcrum has tipped once and for all in this latest shakeup, and the convergence of technology all but plays directly into the needs the organization has to do much more with much less.
Thirdly, online sales must be a growing revenue engine that is constantly developing a personality to serve and sell to the global office park.
Contrary to some belief systems, this is where selling art and selling science have a clear line of demarcation. The potential of the dot-com bust meets the opportunity of the new economy, and this just happens to be occurring as the ability to tell your story in video revolutionizes how we sell online. What is your online revenue stream directly contributing through converted sales today? In the new economy, companies will be looking for this critical sales channel to become the key contributor in the next few years…and video is the river that will facilitate that transformation.
I realize that there are a myriad of selling giants who have a myriad of ideas and thoughts on the go-forward in this post-Armageddon economy. But I see it as all opportunity, and the really smart folks have already pulled the old, oily engines out and are toying around with ones that will make the whole company go greener.
Note: PGi is a premier sponsor of the Sales & Marketing 2.0 Conference, November 8–9 in San Francisco. http://www.sales20conf.com/collaboration
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On the third phase of the strategy, I reckon that it almost like innovation where one business utilizes new concepts, applications and machines to go forward. I have seen that it has been true to a lot of today's giant companies. If you don't cope, you are slowly seeing a monthly report with your ROI diminishing while your innovating competitor is happily servicing your used-to-be customers.
Posted by: Selling Stuff Online | 08/21/2011 at 07:03 AM
This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.
Posted by: online selling | 06/27/2011 at 10:02 AM
Conferencing Software is the latest in global communication. Its been hot for a while now but has just gone into another gear. Hundreds of companies and products based on conferencing are popping up all over the net. It takes a little getting use to trying to focus on the camera to engage your audiance properly but is way worth it compared to offline meetings. The costs you can save are huge.
Posted by: conferencing software | 10/26/2010 at 05:34 PM
Thanks for the comments. I understand Jefferson's point as it relates to our current understanding of formal- video conferencing. My intent was not to promote the industry, but to simply highlight what I see (from my perspective within collaboration services) the natural convergence that is shaping itself right now.
Video is so much more than the stagnant, highly equipment driven event I am seeing happen. Flash technology, compression technology, much higher bandwidths and networking technologies are the core hardware/software drivers. But entrepreneurial spirit and economic need are the primary awakenings quickly pulling the drivers together.
But I could not agree more with you, Rodger, with the need to push past convergence into deeper qualitative experience, that will only improve as the technological foundation and entrepreneurial atmosphere continues to mature.
Posted by: Kraig | 10/11/2010 at 09:55 AM
I'm not in agreement with Jefferson's opinion about video-conferencing.
I think that our culture has been progressing strongly in the last 60 years to be more and more visually oriented. It only makes sense that marketing and sales should have available as many visual aspects as possible to facilitate the task.
Of course, we have the auditory channels working well through telephone, recorded PowerPoint presentations, and downloadable MP3s.
I know that some folks will think that a recorded PowerPoint is somehow visual, but for me it is only an auditory hybrid, because so many folks sub-vocalize as they read.
I think that the channel we cannot directly address (yet) over the Internet is the kinesthetic. The actual feel of the handshake and the actual texture of the materials and the product itself are hard to deliver with only the auditory channel.
And recorded PowerPoint presentations lack the ability to react dynamically to a prospect's need for some kinesthetic simulation.
The best chance we have of giving our prospect the "feel" of what we want to present is to use at least the visual and auditory channels together. So for me, video-conferencing gives us the chance to combine auditory and visual together in a dynamic fashion.
Posted by: Rodger C Bailey, MS | 10/06/2010 at 07:30 AM
Nice article Kraig.
Of your three strategies, I completely agree with 2 of them.
I dont feel as strongly as you do about Video Conferencing, but since you ahve a vested interest in the subject I can understand why you'd be such a strong advocate. :)
Companies who employ a personal and knowledgeable sales force...one that gently moves their customers towards buying on-line in an effort to reduce overhead and time...will continue to thrive in this new economy.
Posted by: Jefferson | 10/04/2010 at 03:52 PM