A more subtle revolution

Last night, I returned to the sales leaders alumni round table at Chicago Booth’s  Gleacher Center. The Samurai Business Group presented on a topic that has mystified sales people when confronted with the seemingly illogical failure of a prospect to buy.

What Dan Kreutzer and Bob Lambert have managed to put together in a formidable summary of research findings is so painfully obvious and yet so painfully missed in sales execution. Somewhere in the course of the last several decades, Americans have gotten fed up with being sold. In the age of the internet, with portability and ubiquity of information, we naturally only prefer to buy what we want and we do it in the time and space that we prefer.

There’s no limit on what I can buy and have delivered from my choice of access device. I guess you could trace this back to wider offering and acceptance of credit cards, and the instantaneous authorization and verification of any transaction. I’m not trying to trace the antecedents to the change, but more to reaffirm what Bob and Dan have so very neatly articulated. The passage of power to the buyer certainly has complicated and challenged the sales process.

Relax, buyers still need help . By understanding the circumstances and the information needs they have, a solid sales organization will be more than occupied; and more importantly will  keep their organization in business.

Inherent in every executed transaction is the decision-process. Insights into the human decision process have long been studied  by decision theorists, probability experts, behavioral economists, cognitive psychologists and even anthropologists and political scientists.  These insights have now been introduced into popular culture by Malcolm Gladwell, among others.  Blink recounts many tales of the  non-linear decision-making process within the human brain. Only some decisions happen actively, while many others fall into the passive or automatic category. What Bob and Dan have elucidated is the requirements for sales organizations to separate their offerings into these categories. Understanding the buyer’s process will go a long way into helping sales and marketers connect to their prospects.

I urge you to check out some of the studies in Sales excellence that Bob and Dan read, but more importantly go read Dan’s book Put the Win back in Your Sales


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