What is selling? – Is it the art of understanding the customer’s exact requirements and then offering our solutions? Or is it using the customer’s business language (business problems, new revenue streams) to make a deal? Or is it just spitting out whatever we have in terms of our capabilities in prospect meetings and visits? Or is it trying to persuade the customer to give us one chance to prove ourselves?
Many mid-sized services companies face these questions when they try to break into the billion dollar club. In this article, I will try to explore the problems faced by mid-sized companies in the sales process and then I will present some solutions to change the situation.
If we look at the evolution of some of the mid-sized companies, we will find that most of these companies flourished when India was offering cost and labor arbitrage advantages. During these times, selling was just selling your profiles and nothing innovative was required. Some part of the business was also acquired due to management’s prior contacts and well-wishers. However, the situation has changed drastically in recent years. Today, companies who outsource do not require just “helping hands”, but “helping hands with minds working”. MNCs and product companies require their partners to give feedback on their product lines, help them open new market segments, advise them on how to create new revenue streams for them, etc. Needless to say, the selling process also needs to change on the same lines.
Let us look at our past experiences and ask the following questions:
If we do deep introspection, we will find hundreds of these questions cropping up, which we blissfully ignore. Still, after a customer meeting we pat our backs and project our winning probabilities in the CRM. We cannot justify this flawed selling process on the basis of the fact that we are still winning some business and generating revenue for the company. This is similar to whether the cricket match is won because the bowlers are taking wickets by skillful and intelligent bowling or because the batsmen from the opposing side are throwing away their wickets. If our situation is the same, we are certainly heading towards disaster. Someday, a skillful batsman will come onto the crease and we will struggle to take his wicket.
However, all is not lost. Things can improve if we bring new dimensions to our selling process and learn to speak in the customer’s language. We need to invest our time and energy in understanding our customers, their products, their needs, their competition, their problems, their future plans, etc. and then pitch accordingly. Unless we change fundamentally, things are not going to improve. Last but not the least, we need to educate our pre-sales and sales teams on the principles of selling and if required, bring fresh people into the system.