Off the Cuff Interview Question: “What does a real sustainable sales result (outcome) look like?”
Sales has changed in the last 10 years and promises to undergo even greater change in the coming decade. The advent of Artificial Intelligence will change the customer-supplier relationship. Those at the transactional end of selling will find themselves obsolete and unnecessary.
Customers will continue to value sales professionals who are transformational. True professionals focus on the outcome for their customers. They help their customers transform in important ways. This transformation enables their customers to create greater value for their customers.
By shifting from transaction to transformation, the focus shifts from exchange value to use value. Exchange value happens when customers trade money for a product or service. Use value occurs when customers use a product or service to create value for their customers.
This shift in thinking and engaging requires sales professionals to become adept at seeing the world through their customers’ eyes. This is the key to a real sustainable sales result. It enables sales professionals to remain relevant over time rather than at a particular moment.
Unfortunately, the Industrial Age led to sales processes that focused on manufacturing and distribution. Sales became an extension of manufacturing. Today, we’ve shifted from a “push” economy to a “pull” economy. Sales must shift from being an extension of manufacturing to an extension of the customer’s value creation process. When sales professionals can lead their organizations in partnering with their customers to create value, they will find it easier to become embedded in their customers’ operations. Today, win-win means we win after our customers win. If they grow, we’ll grow.
One of the first steps organizations must make as they embark on this new journey is to stop seeing sales as a department. Sales must become a culture. When sales is a culture, it becomes part of every department’s mandate. It becomes easier to form cross-functional teams to support customer initiatives. It also becomes easier to work with customers over time to achieve a specific and measurable customer result. When that happens, customers open up and are far more willing to co-innovate and co-create with a supplier.
As the world of sales changes, remember, your customer’s world is changing as well. Your customers need you now more than ever to cope with the avalanche of changes they’ll be facing in the next decade.
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