When I ask this question of large groups, people know it is a trick question, but still default to common answers. Very naturally, our instinctive response is to think immediately of our specific products or services. The most common answers I get are that we are selling Solutions or Value, neither of which really mean anything. In most scenarios, when your sales teams show up, your clients are either firmly planted in the status quo or they are in motion and have invited you in when the movie is already half over. What we know is that even though they are in motion and have established a buying process, the likelihood that they will make a decision is less than 50%.

So, what are we really selling? We are selling CHANGE. Because of many of the reasons we have written about in the past and the dynamics that exist in your clients markets, when we show up, most clients are firmly committed to the status quo. Between risk aversion, the disruption and cost of change at a time when they are being asked to do more with less, people need compelling business outcomes if they are going invest their time and political capital in change initiatives. For sales teams, this is both hard work and requires a very different set of commercial strategies, tactics and conversations.

If we are going to get clients thinking different about the impact of the status quo, then the journey starts with us thinking differently about the problem that we solve and how our solutions really impact the client. If we can’t think differently, then there is zero chance we can get the client thinking differently. Despite our best efforts, most organizations remain very product centric in their approach and positioning. The lead tactic is usually about what makes our company or our products different. Unfortunately, that is unlikely to either differentiate you in the market or lead the client to take on the risk of change. It will likely lead you into a feature and price conversation.

If we are selling CHANGE, then our strategy and tactical plans [playbook] need to align and enable the vision that we have for our clients. In the absence of a defined sales strategy that helps clients drive change, you should expect to see more no decisions and a higher cost of sale, a declining Win Rate and declining predictability of results.

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