Success Will Come From Selling Differently, Not From Selling Different Things
The sales profession has changed drastically in the last 40 years, especially with the emergence of the now-common practice of solution selling. This approach, which arose out of the sentiment that selling a product for the sake of selling a product can be fairly surface level for both the seller and the buyer, is anchored in the delivery of value. Those who have mastered this approach know that diagnosing a prospect’s needs or challenges and delivering specific improvements is a rewarding feeling for both parties.
But while solution selling has been around since the 1980s, sales organizations still have a lot of work to do in adapting their sales approaches to fully leverage the strategy. I find that, almost across the board, sales organizations are still pitching products with all emphasis on the product’s capabilities and functionalities. But the focus should shift from simply communicating the merit of the products and services to the sales organization being an essential part of the solution to the client’s problem. In many instances, the prospective client may not even know they have a problem or opportunity, let alone how it impacts outcomes, how urgent or important it is, and how to remedy it. That makes you and your sales organization an important resource — one that can help a prospect both understand and react to their situation.
To fully leverage the value of solution selling, sales organizations must read between the lines and find out where the opportunities are. And if they can articulate it, demonstrate how it affects the client’s bottom line, and solve it with their product, the sales organization delivers value for both companies. And in turn, this can foster a positive feedback loop, in which by meeting and exceeding the customer’s expectations, you’ve also unlocked the potential for future business or referrals to other potential clients.
In my most recent article for Forbes and their Future of Work Series, I write more about the future of the practice of solution selling. With the availability of information and reviews at customer fingertips, I suggest that success down the road has a lot to do with how businesses sell, and less to do with what they sell. Sales organizations that can make this adjustment to their approach are better positioned to win business, and in an ever more competitive world, this difference could be key.
With the one-year mark of the pandemic firmly in the rearview mirror, you may be among the portion of people who, despite relief and normalcy on the horizon, are struggling to feel hopeful. I’ve seen clients, colleagues, friends, and, at times, myself, struggling to concentrate, and feeling unexcitable or even aimless at times. These sentiments can be hard to articulate and describe (the term “Meh” comes to mind), but renowned organizational psychologist Adam Grant’s most recent article does the best job of it I’ve seen yet. He ties these feelings to a previously underutilized psychology term: languishing. This describes a state that is distinctly different from depression, but is also certainly not buoyant or even good enough.
Grant himself states that there is still much to learn about the state of languishing – the absence of well-being. I think about it like the movie Sideways – a lack of forward movement or momentum. The self-care options you have for unlanguishing (I checked, this is a real word,) aren’t different from the ones that existed before the pandemic: rest, nutrition, exercise. But I’d suggest that taking them more seriously is most certainly the foundation for at least giving yourself a chance to get back on track.
Beyond health and self-care, Grant’s encouragement for those who feel in this state are to focus on some non-work activities that enable you to get absorbed and feel in the zone. It can also be helpful to focus on small goals to set progress in motion. Essentially, its finding anything that you can do to help you reclaim your energy, or even a spark of passion for something. In my experience, this may take a while, but you need to keep trying. And part of the languishing itself is not wanting to keep trying. So that’s part of the action.
If languishing is something you or others around you are experiencing, you’re not alone. Maybe even having the vocabulary to describe what you, your team, or your family may be feeling will help to shift some focus back towards the positivity on the horizon.
You can read Grant’s article here: Feeling Blah During the Pandemic? It’s Called Languishing – The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Yes, experts will lie to you sometimes.
This article caught my attention because I’m routinely skeptical of what I read and hear from any single news source. I may have good reason for the skepticism because experts – in nearly every field from public health officials to economists – don’t always tell the truth. Its not that they are maliciously dishonest. Quite the contrary. Most of the time they are trying to protect us. The technical term might be the “Noble Lie.” Noah Smith, a Bloomberg opinion columnist (who has one of my favorite blog names “Noahpinion”) points out in this column that experts tend to do this out of concern for our ability to use the information in the way they believe we should. Understanding this can help us make better sense of all we see and hear.
Full article here: Yes, experts will lie to you sometimes (Noahpinion.com)
This week’s quotation is longer than usual. It’s actually the last part of Tyler Perry’s speech at the Academy Awards as he accepted the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. I didn’t watch it live but heard an excerpt afterwards and then read the speech in its entirety here. Its beautiful. The real sentiments of a leader who understands the power of bringing polarized people together.
“My mother taught me to refuse hate. She taught me to refuse blanket judgment, and in this time, and with all of the Internet and social media and algorithms and everything that wants us to think a certain way, the 24-hour news cycle, it is my hope that all of us, we teach our kids and I want to remember, just refuse hate. Don’t hate anybody. I refuse to hate someone because they are Mexican or because they are Black or White or LGBTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they are a police officer. I refuse to hate someone because they are Asian.
“I would hope that we would refuse hate and I want to take this Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award and dedicate it to anyone who wants to stand in the middle, no matter what’s around the wall. Stand in the middle ’cause that’s where healing happens. That’s where conversation happens. That’s where change happens. It happens in the middle. So anyone who wants to meet me in the middle, to refuse hate, to refuse blanket judgment, and to help lift someone’s feet off the ground, this one is for you too.” – Tyler Perry