Yes, it is true, customers and prospects are still marching, but they are no longer marching to our drum – by “our” I mean us sellers. They have wrestled the drum away from us and they are now organizing their own marches. They decide if, and when, we are invited to join them – except at the very top end of selling, where it is a very different scenario altogether. The elite top 20% actually help plan the march, whilst the other 80% are lucky if they manage to squeeze into a place along the route.
How often have you read that prospects and customers are coming into the traditional buying cycle, as much as 70% up the curve? It has almost become a “cliché”, hasn’t it? But did you ever read that it was 20% or 40% or 60%? Neither did I. It is almost as if everything changed overnight – like some sales tsunami – but actually, it didn’t, it couldn’t have. We should rather think “gradual coastal erosion” if we want to stay with a meteorological or even a geological metaphor.
I find all of this quite curious: Why didn’t anyone notice until it reached 70%? Were we caught napping, taken completely by surprise? Or more likely, were we so focused on ourselves, our products/solutions, company, industry sectors, that we failed to take notice of what our customers were up to?
Myopia: Lack of discernment or long-range perspective in thinking or planning – and that is being kind!
What I am wondering now, is will anyone alert us when we move from 70% to 75% and then 80% and then…. Or will we all wake up one sunny morning and be informed that we are no longer needed at all, and that buyers everywhere have decided that we are totally surplus to requirements, and we have become obsolete?
The answer to that question is, the more you remain wedded to a transactional selling style – either because your market expects that, or you are unwilling or unable to change – and the more “commoditized” your solutions and services become, yes, you are on your way to extinction, within 3 to 5 years.