Make way for the modern seller

Today’s decision-makers face an uphill climb. Their world is increasingly complex, their decisions impact other parts of the organization more than ever, and they are under constant pressure to deliver on objectives while keeping costs in check.
It’s also a world of sameness. Many products and services have similar features and benefits, and promise similar results. Your customers need a reason to do business with you. That means sales organizations need to change — sellers need to evolve into modern sellers.
What is a modern seller?
A modern seller is someone who’s recognized as a differentiator in their customer’s business, and the value of their product or service isn’t fully realized without them. The customer sees the work accomplished together as strategic to their competitive advantage.
What does this look like?
In my sales career, I worked for one of the world’s most recognizable technology names. Because I sold a product, it was natural to sell on features, benefits and price. But I had a wakeup call. After losing a large opportunity I thought was a sure thing (on price), I learned selling features and benefits wasn’t effective long term.
I had to change my mindset and learn new skills. I had to develop relationships with decision-makers. My goals had to change, too. I wanted to become so ingrained in their success that my customers would want my expertise and what I brought to the table. The product or service enabled that to happen, but the focus was on being a differentiator.
Did that affect the bottom line? Absolutely. Not only did I make my revenue numbers, I also created a more profitable territory. My P&L was healthier because I wasn’t selling strictly on price. I could target better opportunities, my close ratios were higher and I went after fewer bad deals. I got referred to other customers with similar problems.
I created a different brand in the process. My customers looked to me for advice on best practices. I had a seat at their table for strategic conversations. I became consultative and high-value in my customers’ eyes.
In short, I transitioned into a modern seller.
Developing skill sets
Getting to that point was an investment. It didn’t happen overnight. Modern selling means your sales organization likely needs refreshed skill sets and mental models. These can touch everything from initial relationship building and prospecting, to how to grow current customers, handle the competition and position their own value and brand.
As an executive, you can play a key role in this evolution, and you might need to adapt yourself. Consider taking these steps:

  • Take a look at the sales talent your organization hires.
  • Identify the modern skills they need to achieve their goals.
  • Implement coaching and sustainability so teams can transform those skills into stronger results.

Becoming a modern seller means transition is always occurring. The transition is worth it, because when your organization commits to modern selling, you’ll see yourself in a whole new light — and so will your customers.

Amy Franko is the Founder and president of Impact Instruction Group. Amy helps companies achieve high-value growth by improving sales strategy, performance and leadership. Her expertise is shared by respected publications such as Chief Learning Officer, Selling Power, TD Magazine, Training Industry, Training Magazine and Smart Business. Her book “The Modern Seller” is due out in 2018.