This past week I received an email from Jack. Jack has read this newsletter for a long time, and we have frequently communicated outside of this newsletter. He has read my work long enough to what I believe about sales and selling. When he read a LinkedIn post titled “Why This CEO Will Never Hire Another Salesperson”, he forwarded it to me knowing how much trouble I would have with the ideas in this CEO’s post.
I wrote a response to the post. Mike Weinberg entered the fray on Twitter. Dave Brock wrote a response. Doug Davidoff wrote a response to my response. I wrote a reponse to Doug’s post. And then my good friend from Australia, Tony Hughes, weighed in with a 2,200 word LinkedIn post of his own. That’s a lot of catch up reading for those of you who want to follow this thread. Let me lay the arguments out here for those of you who don’t want to go back over this ground.
The CEO who wrote the orginal post about why he will never hire another salesperson believes that because buyers have so much access to information, and because some research suggest buyers are deep into their buying process before ever engaging with a salesperson, that salespeople no longer create any value. So none of the people on his “customer success team” prospect, none collect a commission, and no one has a quota. In fact, he suggests that salespeople ruin relationships because they are compensated for developing new business.
This CEO has an extraordinairly out-dated and immature view of the role of salespeople, and one that will limit the growth of his company. It also means his whole business acquisition process is reactive.
On Saturday, I saw an ad on Facebook that said, “Stop Selling. Start Helping.” More nonsense promoted by people who sell the idea that prospecting is bad, that asking for commitments is uncessary, and advice that is hurting salespeople, their families, their companies, and their clients.
- Inbound marketing and social selling work. But not well enough for you to use those methods exclusive to all others. In fact, you are still better off with a sales force who can prospect and open relationships with your dream clients than you are passively waiting to for your dream clients to find you. Nothing suggests that prospecting methods are–or should be–mutually exclusive.
- Salespeople can and do create massive value for their clients. The biggest challenge for salespeople isn’t that the Internet creates greater value. The biggest challenge is that their competitors have greater business acumen and situational knowledge, and that these salespeople can create greater value for their clients throughout the entire buying process.
But there is a truth in what the CEO wrote on LinkedIn. If you sell at what I call Level 1, where you rely on pitching your product or service’s features or benefits, you don’t create enough value for most of your prospective clients. If you sell at Level 2, then you sell a better experience than your competitors, and this too is no longer enough. If you sell at Level 3, you can help your prospect’s with their existing problems, and you can prove the value of your solution. This level is still good enough to create some value, and the CEO in the Linked post would still benefit from having a few Level 3 value creators. Level 3 is the level that most salespeople sell from today.
But right now, what I call Level 4 Value Creators are what buyers really need. They’re proactive. They’re strategic. They have the insights to know how to move their client’s business into the future, almost always a future their client’s don’t yet recognize.
What level are you playing at right now? What level do your dream clients need you to play at for you to be their trusted advisor? What do you need to change to create this higher level of value? Hit reply to send me your thoughts, ideas, and stories.
Do good work, and I’ll see you back here next week.
P.S. If your sales team needs help getting to Level 4, shoot me a note and we’ll see what we can do to help. You can also look at some of the keynotes and workshops I deliver on my new site.
P.P.S. Speaking of the new site, if you haven’t already, do check out the new design at www.thesalesblog.com. It’s totally mobile responsive, and since something like 60% of people read the blog on a mobile device every day, it’s a much better experience. Let me know what you think.