I see that often, people don’t really know how to walk through discovery process. A sales guy is out there and that old A-B-C, always be closing, is in the back of his mind. He’s judged that way. It’s like, “What am I bringing to the table? Or afterwards you will be asked, did you tell him about this?” The whole sales conversation is constructed about features and benefits rather than discovery.
Régis Lemmens is a partner at Sales Cubes, a sales management consulting firm located in Belgium, specializing in sales and key accounts management. He is a firm advocate of design thinking in business and helps organizations to apply this approach to innovate and redesign their sales processes finding new ways to add value to their customers. His new book is, From Selling to Co-Creating.
Related Podcast and Transcription: Design Thinking in Sales
Excerpt from the Podcast:
Joe Dager: I see that often, people don’t really know how to walk through discovery process. A sales guy is out there and that old A-B-C, always be closing, is in the back of his mind. He’s judged that way. It’s like, “What am I bringing to the table? Or afterwards you will be asked, did you tell him about this?” The whole sales conversation is constructed about features and benefits rather than discovery.
Régis Lemmens: What we do see is that, those companies here in Europe are really struggling today. I see more and more companies calling upon us to engage with us because they realize that customers don’t accept meetings anymore.
I was doing a presentation yesterday to a big European industrial company and they were really struggling to have appointments because that’s the sort of talk that customers are not interested in. they want to have a discussion much more about innovation, about partnership, and about working together.
To give you an anecdote, I happened to have developed a very nice case. I’m not going to name them because I’m going to tell you something which is not written in the book. It’s a very nice case about a systematic logic and how they co-create real value with their clients. What was really funny to see was when I was writing up the case, in that whole process, the traditional sales people are no longer involved. Worse, they’re no longer allowed anymore in the process. The reason is they have this mentality of “always be closing”. One of the executives told me, “What happens is, whenever we involve a salesperson in this process, the clients feel that this is not about co-creating. This is about selling and they immediately stop sharing and the process stops.”
It shows how this is a change of culture.
Joe Dager: I think it very much is. Is there something about the book that you would like to mention that maybe I didn’t ask about and your services?
Régis Lemmens: There is something that I really like about the book about the research that we did. Whenever we found a beautiful example of a company that was co-creating value with the clients, it was always about one or two particular individuals who were doing that. When we ask, “What about all the other sales people?” They say, “Well, no. No, no. They don’t do that.”
What we found out when we looked through all the cases is that, to co-create with the client requires a lot of effort. It requires a specific motivation and we have a whole part in the book because we went to look into what motivates people to really do this. It’s about how you look at your job. We describe it in the book as “You can look at your work as a job; I do it because I need to earn a living; as a career because I want to move up or as a calling because I really like what I’m doing.”
What we noticed is that those sales people are going to co-create and are successful. They look at their job as a calling. This is actually a sort of wakeup call for us. We can win back our clients and say, “Well, we need to look at how we motivate sales people. What motivates them?”
We’re not working on several projects. While we’re looking several things like job crafting – which is a fantastic methodology which is developed in the U.S. in the University of Michigan – to actually help people find their calling in their work. We’re applying that more and more now within sales organizations and helping sales people to really find the calling in their work. Sometimes, they don’t find the calling and that’s also when I find myself saying, “Perhaps you should do something else.”
That’s something that we think for the future. We should think about entrepreneurs. Why do they do that? Why do they start a company? It’s not for the money. Most of them do it because that’s their calling. They really want to do that. I think that’s also what we need to look into sales people in the future.
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