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Shaping the Future

For those who choose to pursue a high-value strategy, the final advice we offer is to move quickly to embrace the transformative model to secure your future. As with most strategies, the companies that take the lead in shaping the sales environment in which they operate are more likely to succeed than those who follow the leaders.

The hard reality of the marketplace dictates that you are either part of your system or somebody else's. If you are working your system, you are in control of your destiny. If you are in the latter, odds are you will end up a victim.

This conclusion is supported by a McKinsey & Company study that examined the corporate strategies of 50 of the best-performing companies during the 10-year period between 1985 and 1995. The companies were chosen for their sales, profit, and market capitalization growth and were drawn from a variety of industries including retail, computer, manufacturing, business services, health care, and financial services. The study revealed that 86 percent of the "biggest business winners" had focused their strategies on shaping their markets. [3] In other words, a substantial majority of these highly successful companies had attempted to create their own playing fields rather than accepting and adapting to the existing market parameters.

Our Business Development process enables you to differentiate yourself from the competition early and often and create value through the selling process itself. As we have seen, the ability to make a high-quality decision is not a common capability among customers in a heterogeneous environment. It is the value the revised sales process creates and captures that gives it the power to define our customers' expectations and shape our marketplaces.

The enlightened sales professional brings a diagnostic, value-based decision process to the complicated situation and establishes a position in the customer's mind that competitors, especially conventional salespeople, will find hard to dislodge. Think back on your own experiences with salespeople. What outcomes characterized your most positive buying experiences? For us, the best buying experiences have been those in which salespeople helped us reach high-quality decisions with all that it implies—no matter what the product or service we were purchasing.

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Figure 10.1: Integrated Business Development

Ultimately, there are three selling systems vying for supremacy in any particular sales engagement: the customer's system, the competitor's system, and your system. You can get caught up in the customer's system; in fact, that is the course of action that conventional selling recommends. But customer systems are usually aimed at acquiring goods and services at the lowest price and, as we have seen, rarely lead to a high-quality decision. You can fall prey to your competitors' selling system, but, of course, it is designed to stack the deck to deal them a winning hand and you will find yourself constantly reacting to their smoke and mirrors. Or, finally, you can bring your own system to the transformative transaction.

The final alternative is always the best. When you provide the system, you have the highest degree of professional control over the results and are well on your way to controlling the transformative sale and being able to compete and win when the stakes are high.

Allow me to leave you with one final key thought.

Whether it is Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, Roger Penske, an Olympic athlete, an accomplished musician, a respected physician, a successful business person, or it could be a top sales or service professional in your organization, whenever you watch a pro doing what they do, it may look like magic—but it's not. It is systems, it is skills, and, above all, it is discipline. The spectacular success we see is always preceded by unspectacular preparation we don't see. So enjoy your preparation and enjoy your success!

[3]See Hugh Courtney, "Making the Most of Uncertainty," McKinsey Quarterly, no. 4 (Fall, 2001).

The topics covered herein concern solution sales, consultative sales, and consultative selling.

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