I've been reading through transcripts of third quarter earnings calls and it sounds like industrial business leaders are ready to hunker down for a long winter. I wish I had counted the number of times I heard the phrase "tough market" when explaining poor results. I heard it a lot. Way too many times given the caliber of companies I'm following.
Solution selling has become a cliché. “We sell solutions, not products” could be (and probably has been at one point in time) the tagline for every business that targets industrial customers. Nobody wants to admit that they sell products or services to their customers anymore. Why not? Because savvy customers don’t want to be sold products they don’t think they need.
The idea that you need to know your customer has been beaten to death. You already know how important that is or you wouldn’t be a successful sales professional. Many CRM providers recognize this and offer automated profiling functionality for both accounts and buyers. But there’s a big pitfall in relying on automated profiling. If you’re using a lean approach to problem solving for customers, cloning “About Us” pages and LinkedIn profiles in your CRM platform just won’t cut it anymore.
In my last post I talked about how adopting a lean approach to selling can help you shine with customers while accelerating sales growth. But getting there will take a significant change in the mindset and approach within your sales activities. Establishing a standard lean selling process is the first big step to help you drive that change.
Selling is getting harder because many sales teams have not yet adapted to more complex buying. But there’s hope for sales. In fact, the outlook for sales is better than just hopeful. I believe sales professionals have an opportunity to become more and more essential to their customers well into the future. One powerful way to ensure this happens is to arm your sales team with a lean approach.