For those of us old enough to remember, the golden age of selling in business-to-business markets was at least 20 or 30 years ago. Back then, business was done on a handshake, relationships were king and suppliers had a lot of power. If you were running a business or doing any selling back then, you probably felt like you were in control.
Fast forward to today, and business of any size and scale is done through bids and tenders, procurement is king, and suppliers don’t seem to know what to do any more.
The world of sales has fundamentally changed. But some of us are still selling like it’s 1985, Wham is at the top of the charts and we are jamming out “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” on the Sony Walkman wearing our Choose Life t-shirts and fluoro cut-off gloves.
OK, maybe that was just me, but you get the picture. It’s chaos, it’s not pretty (truly) and it’s not working. Something has to change.
What’s really going on here is that we feel like we have lost our power.
It’s fair to say that not everything we’d like to control is within our control. We can’t control how customers buy. We can’t control what competitors do and say. And we can’t control how we feel about any of these things. But we can control how we exercise our CHOICE. And we can choose to think more broadly, to feel differently and to act despite our fears and challenges.
I reckon it’s an exciting time to be in business. Our world is full of possibility and potential. But this is underpinned by rapid and unrelenting change that brings many challenges.
Customers have these challenges too. So we’ve moved from a time where people and personal relationships had a lot of power, to one where ideas and innovation are the primary currency that drives customer relationships.
According to a recent study by TEC (The Executive Connection), a global network of company CEOs, the five issues keeping CEOs up at night are talent management and the need for cultural fit; the role of technology in re-shaping existing business models and creating new opportunities; the globalisation of markets; embedding an innovation mindset; and the perennial need to make good decisions. (Read the full report here)
Do you have a solution for one of these? Prospects and customers want to hear about it.
It’s time to take your power back, show them what they don’t know (but should) and build your customer’s future. This is what creates real and lasting customer partnerships.
|Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant specialising in business won through formal bids, tenders and proposals. She is the author of two books on proposals and sales, including Winning Again: a retention game plan for your most important contracts and customers. Read more about it here.|