What keeps you up at night? Anyone in sales is likely familiar with this phrase. It’s the sort of open-ended question that has long been a go-to for many in the industry.
But, according to Matt Dixon, it’s time to put it to rest.
As the Global Head of Sales Effectiveness Solutions at Korn Ferry Hay Group and author of the best selling book The Challenger Sale, Matt knows sales. Or more accurately, he’s acutely perceptive at identifying the evolution of sales. Where the game of sales is headed.
And that evolution does not include the traditional solution based selling that has long defined the practice of sales.
I recently met up with Matt to learn more about his philosophy and where he sees sales going next.
Farewell Consumer-Sales Codependency!
Matt spends a good deal of his practice researching consumer trends and the influences affecting those trends. Today, the major influence being, unsurprisingly, the impact of the digital era on consumer behavior.
Flashback just a few short years ago to a time before smartphones and the IoT. In those days, consumers had limited information available to them. What they learned was predominantly sourced from the information passed to them through sales and advertising.
And those sales and advertising teams discovered what information to pass them simply by asking: what problem do you need to be solved?
In other words, what keeps you up at night?
It was an era of sales and consumer codependency—that of the feeder and the fed. Skip to today, and that has all dramatically changed at the hands of the information-rich digital era.
Unlike days past, today’s consumer is heavily informed says Matt. With a smartphone in hand, a plethora of information is now readily available at the buyer’s fingertips. No longer is the consumer dependent on the salesperson to feed them information, today they feed themselves.
And feed how they do. Consumers now use digital content to inform virtually every decision of their lives—from where to eat, where to holiday, and what to buy.
In a word, they are empowered.
Solution Selling is Dead
Which leads to Matt’s philosophy on the state of sales today. Understanding this new paradigm of the empowered consumer, it goes to reason then that the traditional approach of solution-based selling no longer has a role.
Instead, customers want salespeople who will bring to the table some new information and ideas that they haven’t already sourced themselves.
In a nutshell, they want someone to challenge them.
Become The Challenger
In his book, The Challenger Sale, Matt describes a new breed of salesperson, ‘The Challenger’, who has adapted to the era of the empowered consumer. And it’s this sort of salesperson that will best be poised to connect with today’s consumers and close those coveted deals.
So what makes The Challenger so unique? According to Matt, they understand the pressures put upon and needs of today’s modern consumer.
Don’t Ask Me, Tell Me
The Challenger understands that today’s consumer, although heavily informed, is also overwhelmed by the volume of information bombarding them.
In this world, the old solution-based approach no longer sticks. A big reason? It demands that customers essentially sift through the large resources of information before them to provide the salesperson with a problem to solve.
The Challenger, instead, turns this approach on its head and highlights exactly which information the customer needs to pay attention to. Rather than asking what keeps you up at night? The Challenger states here’s what SHOULD be keeping you up at night.
In a nutshell, The Challenger simplifies the customer’s world by telling them exactly what they need to do.
And it’s here, by presenting new ideas and solutions to lighten the consumer’s heavy information load that the modern salesperson truly proves their value.
A more in-depth analysis of Matt’s illuminating sales philosophy can be heard over on the podcast. Be sure to catch it.