Success Story: How this Turnaround Expert Makes an Impact with Solution Selling
David has been in sales for over 30 years now and is experienced in many fields. He’s worked primarily with hardware and software companies, having started his career in digital equipment. He’s worked for SaaS, running Asia Pacific sales in Canada and the Carribean. He’s also worked in the supply chain industry for a while, mostly with sales transformation – moving from a product to solution sale, price to value, vendor to partner, and everything that the journey entails.
Why is having a sales methodology important?
We’ve grown up in sales with a bit of a bad reputation that comes from a history of the perception of sales as solely relationship-based and the ability to convince somebody to pay more money than they want to for something they don’t need.
I believe that sales are a profession and that there is a science to it, just as much as there is an art.
The importance of methodology is that first of all, there are a clear repeatability and process. The second thing is that it really provides you with an ability to codify what many people may think is a random act. I think that what’s been proven over time is that although there’s no universally accredited degree program in sales from a university standpoint, there is as much a profession, science, and methodology to sales as any other discipline.
The methodology provides you with repeatability in the process. It provides you with a solid foundation to make it repeatable, and to make it more of a profession than a random act of sales.
Why were SPI and Solution Selling® a fit for you?
I’ve been through most selling methodologies. They all have their strengths and each is unique for its own particular element that is strongest.
Solutions Selling® is the only methodology that I’ve seen that is the most effective at diagnosing what really matters. At the end of the day, it’s really not about selling at all. It’s about motivating customers to buy from you because they’re fundamentally convinced that what you provide will help them make a measurable difference in their business. That’s the difference between a pull and a push.
Solution Selling® is more of a pull than a push. It’s really about diagnosing what really matters and the important elements in the customer’s business that will make a measurable difference, and help customers connect those dots. It really is, again, more about motivating the customers to buy based on proof points that you can help them solve very critical business issues that have very measurable impacts, as opposed to selling. None of the other methodologies out there do that.
What has it been like working with SPI?
I’ve had a tremendous relationship with SPI. I remember my first interaction with SPI was a life-changing experience for me. I’ve always positioned with sales professionals that if you invest in this, this will change your life – and I honestly believe that. It sounds a little trite, but it’s absolutely true. I used to, like most sales professionals, have conversations with my spouse and I’d say, “You know, I can’t wait until our well-being is no longer at the expense of somebody else’s whim to make a decision to buy what I’m selling.”
It was Solution Selling® and SPI that actually changed that forever and changed my career trajectory because I realized that it really wasn’t about somebody’s whim at all. It was really about if you understand the customer’s business pain – you can make a tremendous career out of helping companies change their business. SPI made a measurable difference in every company.
I’ve implemented Solution Selling® nine times now, and SPI has helped me through that and made a measurable difference, not only in my customer’s business but in my company’s business by making a dramatic improvement in win rates, cycle time – all of the metrics that we follow and fundamentally, results that are win rates and more success. Personally, my career has been made better by the folks at SPI – they’re a very collaborative group of folks. They really do whatever it takes to help your company attain that measurable difference and improvement in sales results.
What advice do you have for your peers?
Change is hard at first. There’s a fellow named Robin Sharma who came up with a phrase that captures it: “All change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and so gorgeous at the end.”
It’s a journey. It’s not a light switch; it’s a dimmer switch. The biggest piece of advice I would give to any new sales leader is that change involves bringing change agents on board with you. There are those in the company that are going to want to grasp change and runs with it, those who are going to have a wait-and-see, and those who are not going to want to make that change.
If you’re able to insert change agents in your organizations who understand the journey and are embracing change – innovators – then those people will help affect that change. Change is a difficult thing and you have to stick to it, stick to the process. Solution Selling® works, but you have to power through the difficult times. Change is hard at first. You’ve really got to power through it, so take the training, learn it, apply it, take the training again, apply it some more, coach, apply, coach, and apply.
I’ve taken Solution Selling® 7 or 8 times and with every organization that I join, I sit in the room with the sellers and take the training. It’s key.
Please describe the value of this Customer Success Conference.
I think the biggest value point is in the information exchange. We had people in the room that were from varying industries and various levels of maturity in implementing Solution Selling®. Everybody had a wealth of information to share. I think everybody walked out of the room with some notes in their books about things that they can do differently.
Implementing Solution Selling® is a little bit like being a new parent. You come home with the baby from the hospital. You put the baby in the middle of the bed, look at your spouse, and say, “Okay, what do we do now?” That’s the moment when it’s good to have colleagues that have done this before. You can call them. SPI is very helpful, and those that have gone through it with SPI can also help: “This is what I did to tackle that particular issue.”
It’s a journey and we’re all learning through this journey of lifelong learning.