The skills that were once needed to succeed in the sale have not been removed or replaced. This is not how evolution tends to work, it tends to transcend and include the above, to make changes and adaptations, not changes on a large scale.
Prospecting has not been replaced by inbound marketing. Inbound marketing has been added to traditional forms of creating new opportunities. Like all methods and media, different strategies produce different results based on dozens of variables.
The idea of closing down, asking the client for his business and getting a contract remains necessary, despite all the contrary protests. At best, the evolution of trading relationships probably includes more commitments than would have been necessary in the past.
If something has really changed, it's the very idea of discovery. Now, in addition to the new results of helping your dream client to discover something about himself (the reason they have to change, the implications of not changing, the way they have to change, the compromises they may need to do), find out who is needed for an agreement and how to build consensus. Do you still need to know what keeps your dream client from sleeping at night? I doubt that it will hurt you.
Differentiation is more pronounced than ever. In fact, you do a lot of the differentiation because you represent a lot of the value proposition. Your business, your product and your solution may also be different, but the added value that creates a preference lies primarily in your shoulders. Would it be useful to differentiate the four levels of value? Stacking them will not hurt you as long as things go in the right order.
Most salespeople have not learned to negotiate, and when they are, we think they are taught to run Shuttle Diplomacy like Henry Kissinger. While most of the negotiation in which a salesperson is responsible is about the value that each party wins, competition and trivialization have enormously increased the stakes.
You can add to these basic elements such things as business acumen, relatively recent modification of the skills needed for B2B sales. The idea that we know their company, their client's and the intersection of the two is not new enough, but it's certainly more pronounced – and it's recognized as missing when it's true.
Managing change, creating a consensus and leading a group of people throughout the change process, starting with the decision to do so, is another high-level skill that is Press what was before.
It's probably true that you have to be generally smarter to sell than in the past with regard to complex B2B sales. Would the customer suffer from having an exceptionally good salesman with people and able to help them persuade their teammates to change? Would a quick relationship make selling more difficult for the buyer or seller? Or could it offer the benefit of being able to work together on difficult problems.
As you read and think about the evolution of sales over time, every time you see an "or", change it to "and". Not much has been removed, but a lot has been added.
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