In her book The End of Competitive Advantage, Columbia Professor Rita McGrath states:
"Long term structural advantage is gone and being replaced by a series of short term transient advantages."
This means we need to do two things to survive:
- Constantly innovate.
- Get these innovations into the hands of our salespeople as soon as possible to leverage them as quickly as possible.
We’ve spoken with multiple leaders that tell us the following story:
- We saw a competitive opportunity and developed a new product or service, acquired a new business, etc.
- We announced our new and improved value proposition at sales kickoff.
- Product and marketing produced playbooks and enablement took the team through rigorous sales methodology training.
- Financial incentives were put in place.
By and large the sales team didn’t make the transition but kept selling the old value proposition and solution.
Why is this, given the steps above taken by the organization? The #1 reason?? The confidence of the sales team. Salespeople do not want to take the risk of losing a deal or losing face having new conversations for the first time in front of a customer (even if we’re in front of them on a screen).
When we introduce new aspects of our value it means sales has to talk to new buyers, in new ways, at multiple stages of the sales process from qualify to close. They also have to execute effective conversations that map to the buyer journey and add value there as well.
Most times the content that comes from product and marketing is not granular enough to drive conversations that map with both the buy and sell cycles. Sales training methodology teaches salespeople generic steps for how to sell but not how to sell your new and evolving solution. With guided selling sales teams need actual practice having conversations with new buying influences at every step of the buy and sell cycle. These practice conversations enhance confidence and time to revenue.
Guided Selling is an approach that is the result of the evolution of the very nature of competitive advantage and the b2b buyer journey. Guided Selling is defined as:
- Management guiding the conversations of sellers at every step of the sales process.
- Sellers guiding buyers at every step of the buyer journey.
Guided Selling is not an event, it’s a process whereby every time your go to market strategy or value proposition shifts, or the same for your competitors or customer needs shift, we can quickly get these shifts into the hands of salespeople and have words coming out of their mouths that reflect our shift in strategy.
The days of sustainable competitive advantage are over. We must now learn to compete on a series of short-term transient advantages. We need new systems in place to leverage transient advantages and supercharge time to revenue.
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