Believe it or not, the 2012 National Sales Awards at Grosvenor House in London are in their sixteenth year. Over this time, the event has educated businesses about the qualities, characteristics and attitudes possessed by the country’s best sales people and this year will be no exception.
As the headline sponsor at the event, Huthwaite will instigate thought-provoking discussion on the current wave of changing ideas about sales relationships and best practice. While the awards have been instrumental in underlining the professionalism of today’s sales teams, it is critical that as professionals we welcome robust debate surrounding the difficult key issues our industry faces.
It’s true that the way buyers buy is changing fast. The question is, how do sellers react? There is certainly a spike at the moment in the level of debate within the community about the most effective approaches. It is well known that corporations don’t buy high value solutions purely on the back of a good relationship. However, this doesn’t mean that those relationships are no longer important to both sides, provided they bring real value. Ultimately, the sale depends on how skilled the seller is at helping the buyer to define and realise that value, not on some abstract notion of value cooked up by product or solution designers, marketing departments or even sales people in isolation.
Professionals may feel the need to question long-held views and, at such a time of change, to try to turn accepted practice on its head by suggesting that buyers always need to be challenged and disrupted. Yet, continuing Huthwaite research and the first hand evidence of the 14,000 real life salespeople we train every year, show that successful sellers must be thought-provoking and consultative but not assumptive or prescriptive. Crucially, it isn’t just sellers supporting this argument; it’s the people who really matter most – the buyers.
It is vital that at the event, the sales professionals who are representing the best in the industry, setting industry standards and leading the way to creating a more solid economy, take the time to question changing ideas about sales relationships, in order to continue to deliver the best results.
The shortlist for this year’s NSA event comprises some of Britain’s most high profile businesses, including BSKyB, Virgin Media, LivingSocial and Royal Mail. As a result, there certainly won’t be a shortage of finalists to ask about their experiences to further broaden and deepen our research – of which the results will undoubtedly provoke, further sales change debates, which really can make a difference to how sales relationships are managed.