“What global account buyers are saying is: we are tired of sellers who are shallow. Who are focused on their products and solutions and what they can do. We want sellers who will help us devise and achieve strategic outcomes.” (Barbara Weaver Smith. Whale Hunting with Global Accounts: Four Critical Sales Strategies to Win Global Customers. 2016. p. 34, Chapter Two, Business Knowledge)
That’s an excerpt from my newest book. In doing my research, I heard that over and over from executives in large corporations all over the world who participate in buying big, complex solutions. They buy logistics, engineering, enterprise software and Cloud subscriptions, consulting, marketing, training, digital, social—and every day something is newer and the speed of change is faster.
What makes executive buyers find sellers shallow? Shallow is such an ugly word—it means superficial, insincere, trivial, insignificant, lightweight, phony. The scary thing is no one intends to be shallow. But that is how so many sellers are perceived. What can you as a business owner, a sales manager, or a seller do about it?
The problem lies at the intersection of training and education. All good companies provide sales reps with lots of training—about the arts and skills of selling and especially about their company’s products and solutions. But training doesn’t necessarily produce sellers who can “help [buyers] devise and achieve strategic outcomes.” Training intends to impart specific, replicable skills that will produce uniform results.
A strategic outcome is not a uniform result—it’s an insight, an intuition, a sudden awareness, even a vision of a new possibility. That’s where education is supposed to take people. But what if your education hasn’t taken your team there yet?
Here’s a quick activity for your next sales meeting to get you thinking in the right direction.
Do a 10-minute Internet research, each person picking one topic: (You make up the topics)
- 3 strangest new products/services at (a key prospect)
- 3 trends in logistics
- 3 technology trends
- 3 trends in global markets
- 3 trends in automotive
Get these answers on white boards. Have a discussion about how anything fits with anything else. See what questions you can come up with that would make for an interesting first discussion with a buyer who is tired of shallow sellers.
My new book is full of ideas about how to engage sellers to know more and to differentiate themselves and your company by the quality of their interactions with big company buyers. Download a free chapter, You Don’t Know Enough, right here. No sign up required!