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Why old sales theories don't work anymore.

The world has changed due to the increasing velocity of innovations. Companies are developing new solutions to solve existing or new customer problems with an accelerating tempo. The number of tools and technologies we have access to to get our jobs done is overwhelming. The amount of resources and information sources is endless.

On one hand this leads to a significant amount of flexibility but at the same time it also leads to a substantial increase in complexity and challenges of selling and buying:

Paralyzed customers

The immense variety of challenges, solutions and information sources brings about a rising evaluation-time and effort. Clients don’t feel like they are well informed, but rather feel like they’re overwhelmed and paralyzed.

A decrease of willingness to engage with potential suppliers is the consequence, as well as an excess of “post-purchase anxiety”. “Did we do the right thing? Would another choice have been better?” *.

Decision makers only give time and money to interlocutors who can guide them to focus on the right problem and select the solution which brings maximum impact with minimum risk.

A dilemma: the wish for comparability of innovation

Innovative solutions are not comparable to any competitor and mostly not measurable with the common, well known metrics. But customers want to justify their decisions with comparable parameters. They request information and data, without knowing what they really need in order to make a decision.

Sales people who are trained in and seemingly addicted to relationship management mistakenly think, that fulfilling their requests is the way to win their trust and empower decisions. Most of the time the exact opposite happens though. Clients find themselves stuck in an endless loop of information which makes them question even more and a decision basically impossible.

Buying and selling in an unstable world of beta versions

Products and features are constantly being developed thus Sales has to sell beta versions with often unclear timelines, unclear outcome or a lack of proof of concept. This increase of ever-changing products and services leads to an uncertainty of what to buy and when to buy it.

Innovations come with consequences

Buying innovative solutions is not a completed transaction by only spending money. Implementing an innovative solution mostly comes with remarkable consequences for the internal processes, resources, legal and data protection requirements, etc.

Perceived risk is an astoundingly high factor in buying decisions. However, the willingness and ability to take risks is declining, as people are more afraid of bad outcomes as a result of new actions taken rather than of bad consequences of inaction.

Increased complexity of buying systems

Most of the clients are hierarchical enterprises. They stick to annual planning and budget rounds as well as complex buying procedures. Purchasing requires several approvals from different stakeholders, often times with contrary interests.

The number of people involved in BtB Solutions purchases has climbed to an average of 6.8 in the last few years. Decisions are made on the “lowest common denominator”. Even CEOs need to get written approval for investments from committees, board members or international headquarters before they can sign a six-figure deal. And those buying systems are far from stable. A deal may be about to be signed, and suddenly, out of nowhere, a new stakeholder enters the picture.

Considering the new environment of selling and buying, a new way of sales must be established.

Find out more:

*Harvard Business Review 03/04-17, The NEW SALES IMPERATIVE by Nicolas Thoman, Brent Adamson and Cristina Gomez

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