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After recently watching the music documentary “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week,” I realized the power of transformation. You see, whenever I’m on a long flight, I tend to watch movies (even though I know I should be working!). Music documentaries are my favorites: Yo-Yo Ma, Janis Joplin, Chicago, and The Wrecking Crew are recent ones I’ve watched.
But in “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week,” I was amazed by how, in a fairly short period of time, they had transformed themselves. They were always trying to be different from anything else that was out there. And, it got me to thinking: Why are so many salespeople and sales managers so reticent to change?
Now, I know there are plenty of salespeople and sales managers who have changed and transformed themselves towards greater success. Times do and always will change, and many of us have figured out that if we continue to sell like we did in the past, we will not be as successful as we once were. The salespeople and sales managers who have stayed ahead of the curve, constantly changing and evolving, are the ones who will always be successful. They are always learning. They are always making quota. They are always making their customers successful. They understand the power of transformation.
In the olden days, before technology hit critical mass – which was only a few decades ago – salespeople’s jobs were all about telling potential customers how their products and services could help them be more efficient. In many cases, technology products replaced spreadsheets and people. You only needed to inform and impress prospects with how much faster your product could get the same job done, or how much money it could save them by minimizing staff. You looked for early adopters and pitched to them – focusing mostly on yourself. But what did you know about the buyer? Unless you worked for a big name like IBM, the buyer didn’t even know you existed or how you could help them, until you walked through the door.
As time went on, more and more customers were embracing technology. In some cases, it was just about as easy as taking orders. Word started getting around. If you were selling back then, it was fairly easy since you just had to find some key pain points and sell to that. You were almost always saving customers money or making them more efficient. The biggest thing your customer cared about was the risk of implementation failure and where to put all the people your product or service was displacing.
But now, everyone has the internet. It’s part of how we live every day. Customers and prospects are usually way ahead of most salespeople when they walk through the door. They already know their own problems, figured out how to solve them, and did research on products and who they want to do business with. Differentiating yourself is much harder today. Salespeople now must truly do their research, know who they’re calling on, and prepare very specific messages geared towards each individual key stakeholder they’re talking to. The process is much harder for the sales person. But still, many salespeople just don’t want to change. Maybe it’s because they don’t understand the power of transformation. And that can be a pretty lonely place to be these days.
Like The Beatles, salespeople and sales managers have to continue to grow to be successful. They have to always be learning how to stay ahead of the curve to be relevant. If you’re still just pitching products and services, then chances are, you’re not making quota or filling your pipeline with quality deals. You’re sitting on your laurels knowing how successful you were in the past. But now you’re scratching your head wondering why you’re no longer the top performer. Wake up and adapt. Use The Beatles example to understand the power of transformation. After many decades, Paul McCartney can still fill a concert hall. Have you stayed ahead of the curve?