In 2006, I reached out to John Holland when I was running marketing for a startup company that was combining CRM with voice integration for small businesses. John was the co-author, with Mike Bosworth, of Customer-Centric Selling. At the time, I was struck by the clear outside-in focus of the book and the practical advice for both sales and marketing on ways to adapt their behaviors and activities to be more customer friendly.
A couple of weeks ago, I reconnected with John to share some of our Future of IT Sales research with him and to get his thoughts. The effort did not disappoint. John is seeing many of the same patterns and had, in fact, written about the impact of the Internet on selling back in 2010. That book, called Rethinking the Sales Cycle, which he co-authored with Tim Young, may have been ahead of its time. Reading it, I was struck by many of its ideas:
- The idea that marketing’s push for leads is exacerbating the lack of trust that buyers have for marketing (and sales).
- A reinforcement of the idea of “sales ready messaging” that was introduced in Customer Centric Selling.
- Frustration with disjointed sales processes and CRM implementations that measure progress based on internal process metrics v. progressing with the client through their buying cycle.
- Clear recommendations that sellers need to understand and acknowledge requirements that buyers have generated from their own research, before trying to “sell” them anything.
This is just a small portion of the great content in the book. While it does not answer all the questions that sellers face today, it certainly has a number of actionable suggestions that can help you evolve. This includes a mix of simple changes (like changing what we call things) to more complex messaging matrices and system improvements.
To be honest, I am a little surprised that this book did not get the same level of acclaim as Customer-Centric Selling and other sales classics. It may have been ahead of its time (particularly in its examples of buyers using social media to expedite their search for information–something this is accepted behavior today). Or it may have been that their recommendations are largely about willingly giving up control of the process to the buyer—something few sales organizations are comfortable with.
Regardless, I highly recommend this book for anyone who is working in technology sales and marketing.
It was great reconnecting with John. In a not-to-distant future post (or two), I’ll be sharing with you some of John’s thoughts on technology sales and marketing today, looking at how things have evolved since Rethinking the Sales Cycle was written.
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