Most of the best recent thinking about the complex B2B sales environment suggests that the primary role of the sales person should be to facilitate the prospect’s buying process, and I’ve certainly seen companies achieve a step function improvement in close rates and forecast accuracy when they embrace this idea.
One of my clients came up with a great metaphor the other day when they likened the whole process to a sail boat race. In this view of the world of sales, each competing sales person is the skipper of a sail boat. The first one to cross the finishing line wins.
The power, of course, comes from the wind, not from the boat itself. And the winning skipper is the one that best manages to harness the power of the wind, and recognise when the strength or direction of the wind changes, and react accordingly. Of course, it’s hard to win the race by sailing straight into the wind. You need to tack this way and that in order to make the fastest progress.
So what does the wind represent in this metaphor? It represents the Buyer’s Intent! It is the buyer’s energy that propels the sales process forward – if it can only be harnessed properly by the sales person. We all know that the ability to “read the wind” is a key attribute of top sail boat skippers …
… and the ability to read the buyer’s intent, and to harness the buyer’s energy, turns out to be a key attribute of top sales people.
So how good are your sales people at “reading the wind” – and what could you do to help them to do better? How many of your sales people rely on their own “outboard motor” – really only useful for slow speed manoeuvring – rather than channelling the much more powerful energies of their buyers?