Nine years ago this month we published the first issue of The SalesPulse with this title.  The run up to the election and a question I was asked about a sales methodology provoked me to revisit it.
The thrust of the original edition was that selling is often forgotten. When times are tough, businesses are in crisis and/or losing money, people cut costs, squeeze suppliers, they reorganise and restructure, they cut prices to generate volume and hit their competitors, they dispose of underperforming business, they merge or acquire, all as an outcome of some form of strategic review.  All but those to do with cost cutting have heavy investments associated with them; a strategy that says we have to sell more, sell better and sell faster supported by a realistic plan and excellent implementation can be put in place fairly cheaply. It is worth remembering that selling is the primary generator of wealth creation.
Now what has all this got to do with the election? The United Kingdom has a business problem; it’s called the deficit and as much as we would all like it to go away, it won’t. The solution to the problem was seen to be austerity (cost cutting and supplier squeezing), but that has been only partially successful. An alternative strategy of increasing taxation (in effect a price rise) will not be tested but probably will not solve the problem either. The current strategy is more of the same, some tax tweaks (price reductions), a reorganisation (no coalition) and selling off assets (disposals). But these alone will not solve the problem.
For me the answer is quite simple, we have to create more wealth and more growth and that means we have to sell more. The only way the government raises money is through taxes, and must increase the tax take (not the tax rates). It can only really achieve this if companies can create and articulate customer value and sell more, sell better and sell faster than their competitors at home and abroad.
What has happened to selling over the last nine years?
A really great development is the acknowledgement that selling is not all bad! There are now a number of formal educational qualifications, QCF levels 2 and 3 for sales people, and apprenticeships to support them. The newly founded Association of Sales Professionals are developing a certification process for sales people (Note you don’t have to be certified to be a sales person but I am told it helps!). Alas, there are still so few, four out of over 300, degree and MBA level business courses that have a sales module. This bewildering statistic has not really changed over the last nine years and regrettably confirms that sales is still not understood by many leading business people.
We have also seen some “new” sales methodologies, chief amongst which is the Challenger Sale. The creators of this methodology contend that “the challenger sales person uses their deep understanding of their customers’ business to push their thinking and take control of the sales conversation. They’re not afraid to share even potentially controversial views and are assertive—with both their customers and bosses”. It sits alongside other methodologies like SPIN, SNAP and Miller Heiman’s Conceptual Selling. Some companies see these as panaceas but let’s be honest, they are not; they are all variants of solution selling but add more complication and a significant price tag. If you are considering, or have a sales methodology or just want to sell more, sell better and sell faster there is absolutely no substitute for knowing, practicing and excelling in the basic sales skills. Sales skills excellence and effective sales leadership are fundamental to delivering sustainable wealth creation. You can get more information on these two crucial subjects by clicking here or by contacting me on +44 (0)7903 121916.