The last several months have been busy, including several looooooong trips from Little Rock to help train enterprise sales teams in Europe, Asia and North America. Having had the opportunity to interact in person with salespeople and their managers across the globe–and in a compressed time frame–I can share some comparisons and observations:
- (Almost) everyone wants the same things. Across geographies, marketplace structures, cultures and generational differences, we heard consistently recurring themes. Everyone feels the imperative to have more consistent, higher-level sales conversations, bring more efficiency to lead generation and account planning, ask better questions and squeeze more learning out of every day.
The stars are still shining. Economies across the globe are still suffering and some (e.g. Europe) are in particularly distressing straits. There seems to be a growing proportion of salespeople who are just hanging on. Yet, we also found a few high-performing sales stars in every region. These stars come in all varieties (ages, backgrounds) but there’s also a rising class of young, inquisitive salespeople who have internalized “Challenger selling” behaviors and are producing very good numbers.
- It’s a new day. Harvard Business Review touted “the end of solution sales” in 2012. I don’t want to throw out the sales baby with the bath water, but it is increasingly clear that the solution-selling courses and assumptions from the 1980s and 1990s are in need of substantial updates. Modern sales depends upon insight, education and engagement, delivered from the website and social media to events and face-to-face opportunities. The curious, demanding and teachable reps we met were all about building their human capital and standing out.