Developing the Human Sales Factor is the New Alchemy in the 21st Century
In the past, alchemists were obsessed with transforming common elements, like lead, into something more valuable, like gold. Today, we may not have realized their ambitious goals, but we have achieved a level of success in transforming simple, common elements into items that have more value in our society.
The example I typically use in my sessions involves a bar of iron, worth about $5. If we transform that iron ingot into something useful like horseshoes, we can increase its value to $12. Transforming it into something with more precision, like sewing needles, we can increase its value to about $3500. Now, by taking that same ingot of iron and transforming it into something that demands even more precision, like watch springs used in mechanical watches, we can increase its value to over $300,000.
I use this transformation of iron as a metaphor for what our customers are asking us to do when addressing the changes in today’s sales environment. We need to help them develop the human sales factor and transform them into high performance salespeople with a situational sales mindset. Doing so allows them to perform in a business environment that now demands more precision and value.
This is the New Business Normal
The one thing we keep hearing in our sales training and our coaching sessions is people saying they’ll be glad when things get back to normal. But I don’t think we’ll ever go back to conditions before the pandemic. Our environment has changed too much. Like the societal and business shifts caused by the 9/11 crisis that changed our lives and how we conducted business, we are now living in the next new business normal.
When we look at this from a sales perspective, this means we must evolve to meet the marketplace’s needs. It means we must reevaluate how we lead, manage, and grow our sales talent. In this new business reality, we find our clients asking us to help them transform their teams into more precise, flexible, and nimble sales instruments, increasing their overall value.
The Impact of the Buying Process
For example, in one of my consultations, the client said, “You keep talking about a hybrid selling model. I have to tell you; we do our business face-to-face.”
I said, “That’s fine. Now here’s something you need to consider. It’s not about how you think you need to sell. It’s really about how your buyers want to do business. You have to consider the situation from their point of view.”
In listening to our clients, here are some of the concerns that consistently come up:
- The business landscape is changing
- There is a new business reality
- Having the right salespeople on board is critical
- A hybrid selling model is necessary
- They have a fragmented sales cycle
This is just a sample of the challenges we heard from our clients. Armed with this knowledge of the issues, we were curious to know what was working.
Success With a Situational Sales Methodology
With so many obstacles and setbacks experienced by sales teams, I was curious about what was working for salespeople. We needed to find out what high performance sales teams were doing and see what kind of results they were getting. With that mindset, we discovered that successful salespeople had a sales mindset that involved a situational sales mentality.
Like a doctor preparing for surgery, or a SEAL team preparing for a mission, high performing salespeople prepared for several scenarios. And they were flexible and agile, adapting to any situation to close the deal.
The research we found supported this. In 2012, the Florida State Sales Institute performed a study that revealed critical flaws in our sales methodologies. In an interview with Jason Jordan, Leff Bonney, Florida State University professor, revealed that he and his team discovered that high performing salespeople were flexible in how they approached and conducted the sale. They didn’t stick to one sales methodology but used several, depending on the situation.
In fact, one participant in that research study said, “I sell based on the situation that I have to address at the time.” These high performing salespeople had a dominant style involving extreme flexibility. They had several methodologies at their disposal. And they were most likely to employ a strategy that had the best odds of succeeding in the situation at hand. Other performers in these companies had a dominant style that employed a single sales strategy regardless of the situation involved.
The New Business Reality Requires a Situational Sales Mentality
Overall, your high-performing salespeople use multiple strategies, employ multiple sales methodologies, and are prepared for multiple situations.
Now, when you look at some sales organizations, their approach is, “This is our process. This is our methodology. This is the way we’re going to do it.” However, if the only way you can quantify high-performing sales performers is as situational salespeople, these organizations are facing a harsh reality. They will have to either adapt to the new business reality and evolve or become extinct.
In our sales and training encounters, our clients are increasingly asking us how to make this transformation. More to the point, how do you transform salespeople who are accustomed to relying on one sales methodology or one sales process to being high performers with an situational sales mindset? What will it take to solve this problem today?
Leveraging the Situational Sales Mindset Requires Developing the Human Sales Factor
Overall, here’s a summary of what we are seeing today:
- There is a new business reality. In different industries, the working environment has changed, priorities are shifting, and there’s more competition for budget.
- There’s pressure on sales leadership to develop the sales team and to create a working game plan.
- The sales profile has changed. The ability to read the buyer is critical. Today, top performers are agile. They have the awareness to assess the situation, and they use different strategies to complete the sale.
There’s a common theme here. Remember, complex problems don’t always require complex solutions. Sometimes, it just takes a broader perspective. So we pulled back and took in a more expansive view of the problem. As a result, we asked ourselves, “Is this really about B2B or B2C sales? Or is this something else?”
We found that much of what our clients have been asking us to do, in helping a team transform into a situational sales team, has little to do with making B2B or B2C sales. The sales factor that is making the difference is about a human-to-human equation for getting in the door and being more persuasive, influential, and flexible to close the deal. And this is where much of our coaching and training work has been trending.
References and Resources
You can hear more about the human sales factor in the presentation delivered at the Selling Power 2021 Sales 3.0 conference by clicking the link here.
- Video: The Human Sales Factor
- Video: Driving Sales in the Face of Business Uncertainty
- Article: How to Solve Your Sales Performance Problems
- Post: Sales Leadership During Times of Uncertainty
- Post: How to Drive Saes in the Face of Business Uncertainty
- Post: I’ll take EQ of IQ Anyday