Ursprungligen postat VK: 21 december 2016
Gone are the days of a simple handshake…
The blog this week is about the “shooting from the hip” (skjuta från höften) sales approach.
I’m not exactly sure how our office started calling it “Cowboy Selling” but it is a term used in North America and somewhere along the way between Swedish and English the term has stuck. Either way, I am rather content using this term because it every time I hear it I get a mental image of Clint Eastwood and John Wayne trying to do modern sale call.
It should be clarified that when we use the term “sales” in this context we are not talking about high-level revenue, or transactional selling. We are referring to process of Consultative Selling: a more complex, long-term process involving collaboration with buyers, which includes understanding the customer’s business, industry, and pain points, then craft a solution to help the customer.
For better or worse the business landscape has changed. Modern-day sales are complex, the products that companies sell are technical, and professional buyers typically have rigid purchasing processes. To complicate matters, even more, a typical sales process can easily involve 5-15 steps with multiple different individuals and decision-makers. Trying to navigate your way through the minefield of the sales process is challenging to say the least.
It is well documented that adding structure to the selling process increases sales and decreases the on-boarding time of new sales employees.
Ever so often we come across salespeople that are so tremendously good that they tend to succeed despite having little-to-no structure. These Cowboys can go out for dinner with their family and come home with 2 – 3 new business cards. In order to do this, the individual must have a combination of personality and knowledge that is extremely rare, from our experience. If this person is also the Founder or CEO then they know their business so well that they can talk about it with ease.
The problem does not lie in the Cowboy’s ability to sell, the problem surfaces when the organisation starts to grow and hire additional sales personnel.
The growth journey traditionally consists of increasing the salesforce and on-boarding new employees (some digital platforms being the exception). If the end goal is growth, how is a newly hired salesperson suppose to produce at the same level as the unstructured Cowboy?
Neil Rackham (Author of SPIN SELLING) promotes the notion that sales individuals should go into every contact looking for an Advance: “A specific action taken by either party that moves the sale forward”. An Advance is not simply another meeting, an Advance is a specific, predetermined outcome specific to that customer and contact. Can all of these nuances be managed from the hip? Without a plan?
Structuring the approach on the back end will not only help the sales individual, it will also help the organisation. The structure will help with scalability and continuity. Continuity, in this case, might be even more important as it gives organisations of all sizes the ability to distribute and allocate the workflow evenly, rather than “reinventing the wheel” every time a new salesperson is hired.
Some people say it takes 15-18 years of hard work to properly train a Cowboy, does your organisation have that much time to onboard? We are not trying to be overly hard on these shoot first – ask questions later, cold calling workhorses, we have simply noticed that sometimes you need to be more than a Cowboy for the sake of the organisation.
Merry Christmas Y’all!