Sales – transaction or connection?

1752 – Benjamin Franklin founds one of America’s oldest active insurance companies.  He establishes a model around a subscription-based service. A salesperson visits you at home, presents a pitch, closes the deal and makes routine personal visits to collect the monthly subscriptions. At the time, this model was perfect, but as companies grew, sales people began to realize they didn’t have time to hunt for new clients as they were too busy collecting monthly subscriptions.

1870 – The insurance industry develops the concept of role specialization. The terms ’farmer’ and ’hunter’ are coined, an instant success that quickly spreads to other industries.

1900’s – Fraudulent and greedy sales practices and pushy products, damage the image of sales. Consumers start perceiving the profession of a sales man as unethical and deceitful. Luckily, Thomas Watson founds his company “International Business Machines” known as IBM and redeems the integrity of the sales industry in the eyes of the public. IBM introduces several core concepts: as competition increases, having a sales force becomes a competitive advantage; to sustain the competitive advantage of the sales force, they must be educatedprofessionalized, and well-trained. Thanks to IBM, sales becomes a professional and respectable occupation. Sales schools and training companies arise around the globe.

1988 – Consultative selling, also known as SPIN selling, is introduced. It focuses on asking good questions in the right order, using active listening, and translating the prospect’s needs into the product’s features.

2000 – Solutions Selling finds the daylight. Instead of the sales rep ‘forcing’ the product upon the customer regardless of need, a series of questions is asked in order to identify if there is a fit, a “win-win” outcome.

The last decade – an endless flow of automation tools to make selling easier is introduced: apps for lead generation; CRM; contract management; email automation and so on.

Today – There is of course still a lot of value in Solution Selling. And yet, in the end the focus is often still on a ‘transaction’. But how can one focus on ‘connection’ instead of ‘transaction’? How to find conviction that by doing so a ‘transaction’ will follow when time is right or not, if not the best win-win?

We believe in a sales approach that focuses on true connection, coming straight from the heart.  It starts from your own identity. It believes that we can be of meaning to the customer if we respect some principles, as guiding lines.

  • Being authentic, being true to yourself with your strengths and your flaws, in line with your values, these of the organization you work for and your customer
  • Being convinced that when you give trust, insights into your motives, you will get it back
  • Accepting that the added value for both you and the customer is not known upfront, but grows organically and in a dialogue between you and the customer, as equal partners
  • Finding it entirely okay to be ambitious and open about your drive to get to results, because these are of meaning to both you ànd the customer

So yes, being ambitious, being authentic and being of meaning to your customer go side by side, as long as you respect the principles mentioned. At marbl, we translated those into a hands-on sales approach, to help people (re)discover their sales talents and use them to the benefit of their customers, the company and themselves.

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