Sales Skills: If the Customer Is Always Right, You’re in Trouble
Sales Skills: By Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, and Nicholas Toman | August 2, 2012
Our article in the current issue of HBR, “The End of Solution Sales,” has created quite a stir among B2B sales professionals and pundits alike. While supporters see a fresh and accurate articulation of current challenges facing the profession — some even suggesting that we didn’t go far enough in declaring the end of the solution sales approach — detractors accuse us of everything from academic arrogance, to misrepresentation of current sales approaches, to cynical link baiting. As the saying goes, “The flak only gets heavy when you’re over the target.”
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with our proclamation, one thing is certain. The story we’ve observed through five years of in-depth research on B2B selling — including hundreds of interviews and tens of thousands of data points — paints an uncomfortable picture of a dramatically changing sales landscape. The reality is, today’s best-in-class sales (and marketing) techniques look very little like the conventional wisdom deeply embedded in most organizations’ performance metrics, sales process, pipeline management tools, marketing messages, and rep training manuals.
To debate whether this discrepancy arises from a poorly designed or executed methodology misses the point.
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