I am very proud to say that I was taught SPIN Selling by the pioneer of that method, Neil Rackham himself. That was nearly 25 years ago, and since then I have dedicated my professional life to uncovering my customers’ unique needs and solving challenges for them; and to teaching others to do the same.
So I was, of course, brought up short by a colleague of mine who told me that the future of sales had changed and that I needed to change with it. She simply said: “you absolutely, positively, must read The Challenger Sale.”
Secretly, I wondered if the train had left the station without me on it. So I dutifully ordered the audio book and while my wife and oldest son slept on our fall trip to drop him off at Wake Forest University, I immersed myself in a new world of selling.
The basic premise of the book for me was simple: “today’s customer values insights and education every bit as much as they value service and your knowledge of their business and its unique needs.” Said another way, “you don’t have a great value proposition unless you can bring insights and value that they didn’t know they needed to the first conversation.”
Wow! Talk about a wake up call! This was completely transformational to me. And on the way back home, I pondered Blueline’s value proposition and asked myself the question: Does Blueline bring insights and value to its prospective customers?
The answer is yes and no. We do, but we didn’t used to lead with it. Our focus has always been on asking questions so that we had a clear understanding of need and then formulating an opinion about the best way to solve for that need. And that’s still a good model. But today’s customers demand that you prove yourself by bringing insights to them before they will commit the time to help you to understand their challenges. That’s as true for my customers as it is for yours.
So we set about to rethink our initial interactions with prospective clients. Today, we start by making the case for using business simulations and the case for engaging their people. We share insights about the evolving demographics of their workforce and the often-misrepresented role that engagement plays in changing belief systems, retaining knowledge, and transforming skills. Further, we make the case for a mix of technologies that maximize the impact of a three-pronged learning strategy that includes reference, immersion and community. And by doing so, we earn the right to explore the unique requirements of our client, and to put forth a recommendation.
Today, we have set our sights on transforming the way we serve up these insights and others via our web site. I hope that you will return often and explore the fruits of our labors in the coming months.
Meantime, if you are wrestling with how to meaningfully implement the Challenger Sale, the team at Blueline has been there and done that and would be delighted to share our insights with you.