Evolving from Seller to Thought Leader
The role of a sales professional evolved slowly over many years. We went from being "order takers" to “vendors” to “sales consultants” to “trusted advisors.” The last couple years however have ushered in change at a manic pace! We find it both fascinating and challenging for those attempting to keep pace. We’ve read about The End of Solution Selling in Harvard Business Review and most recently The End of Competitive Advantage by Columbia Professor Rita McGrath. Professor McGrath argues that due to a constant change of your value, as well as that of competitive alternatives, sustainable competitive advantage is being replaced by a series of short term transient advantages. We see that many support systems for sales enablement have not evolved to keep up with the speed of the current market. We’ve also heard about the B2B Digital Revolution (Google/CEB).
Traditional sales training, CRM and marketing support have not kept pace with what salespeople really need to compete in hyper speed.
CSO Insights founder, Jim Dickie, says “it’s now less about what you sell and more about how you sell” and that “knowledge is the new oil for salespeople.” We couldn’t agree more. So what then is the next iteration of the role of sales? We think it’s sales as “thought leaders.”
Forbes Insights recently released an article about the importance of thought leadership to drive growth and pointed out why it’s difficult for marketing organizations to support sales in their new role.
First, thought leadership marketing is a relatively new discipline. Originally pioneered by professional services leaders such as McKinsey, IBM and the Gartner Group, it has now become an executive priority for most business-to-business (B2B) marketers. (1)
Second, most marketers lack the in-house resources, processes and organizational structures to create original ideas and proprietary research that opens doors, breaks through clutter and changes buyer perceptions of value.
Finally, the traditional ad agencies that sales and marketing executives look to for support cannot generate the depth of insight, quality of content or level of sales process integration necessary for these programs to succeed.
To read more about sales professionals evolving as thought leaders, read our e-book entitled Selling at The Speed of Change.