Sales is about change-if we are successful with our customers, we get them to change, buying our products and services. But if sales is about change, why are so many sales people resistant to changing how they sell.

In too many conversations, I see people and organizations stuck doing things the same way they have always done them. Without a doubt, people are working harder and much longer hours, but doing the same old things longer and faster won’t change the circumstance. In truth, the tried and true approaches we used in the past don’t work. It’s not the economy that’s creating this, so waiting it out won’t work. The world of professional selling has changed profoundly. The way our customers buy and the ways we engage our customers has changed profoundly. Customers have different and higher expectations than ever before. Customers are expecting and demanding their suppliers work with them in different ways.

Top sales professionals have a great opportunity. Rather than being dragged kicking and screaming into the new world of buying, top sales professionals have the opportunity to offer real leadership. It starts with a commitment to upsetting the status quo-in what each sales professional does individually and in the way our sales organizations work with customers. We must challenge everything we have done in the past-much is still appropriate, but needs to be adapted to our new world. Much needs to change, leveraging new technologies, addressing new opportunities that enable us to better engage customers, increasing our effectiveness and productivity. We need to re-engineer our organizations, our processes, our workflow. We need to think critically about how we create value for our customers.

But this is not sales job alone. We need to engage our organizations in challenging the status quo. Marketing needs to closely align with sales in looking at new ways of acquiring customers, nurturing them and engaging them in discussions about their businesses. Product development needs to engage the customers in different ways, making them part of the definition of products and services that create real value for the customer. Customer service will be different, as well. The entire organization needs to look at new relationships with customers, possibly deeper, richer, and with more parts of both the customers’ and our organizations.

I’ve often thought of sales as the leaders within their companies. Sales has the opportunity to provide real leadership, with their customers and organizations. Are you committed to upsetting the status quo?

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