Regis Lemmens, founder of Sales Cubes, discusses Sales 2020 at TEDxLiege Conference (Transcript)
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Sales 2020 – Regis Lemmens at TEDxLiege
My story starts about 4 years ago in 2010, when I joined the university in the Netherlands. And my assignment was to set up a research department in sales.
Now I don’t know if you know, but academics do not see sales as a truly academic profession. Let alone my marketing colleagues, they’re actually quite surprised, asking me: “Why? Why are you going to research Sales? Sales is dying, sales is dead, the Internet is here. Most of us are buying over the Internet. That’s the future. Come and join Marketing. Don’t go and play with Sales.”
But I don’t share that vision. I believe there is a future for Sales. And a very bright future. And I call this future “Sales 2020”. That was title of my research.
And what I am going to do today with you, I’m not going to tell you a beautiful story about how we did the research. I’m going to pitch to you. I am going to do a true sales pitch. And I’m going to convince each one of you, by the end of these 18 minutes, that you should all join the sales profession. In 18 minutes.
Now, I believe that sales is going through a rebirth. Indeed sales as you know it today is not going to be the same as the sales we’re going to have in 2020. It’s going to look very different. And just to give you one example which is my favorite one.
In the future, you as customers will be very, very likely to pay sales people to sell their products and services to you. Think about that. Why on earth would you pay a salesperson to do their job, to actually sell you their products and services? Yet that’s what you’re going to do.
Even when I tell that to salespeople, they’re first really excited about the idea: “Teach us how to do that! We want that!”
But then 5 minutes down, they say: “No, our customers will never go for it.”
Yet, over and over again, we in our research come across organizations, who have found a way to transform their sales approach into a highly valuable service, for which their customers, just for the service, pay.
So I was thinking about how can I bring an example that you can all relate to? Because a lot of the research happens in the B2B and it’s not always very obvious to explain it. So I was looking for it, and then it struck me.
There are 21 speakers here today, all selling you an idea. We’re all salespeople. We may not think of us like that. But today, we’re all salespeople and some of you are already seeing where I am going with this. You are customers, didn’t you pay to be here? So in many ways, this is already happening today.
And you may think, yeah, that’s an irony. You know, come on, you can’t compare a TEDx event with a simple sales transaction. I am not going to pay for that sales transaction. But I haven’t said that the sales transaction is the future. I don’t even believe that sales transaction is the future. That will go to the Internet.
The future of selling is more events like this, where there’s high value, where you don’t feel like a customer, and I don’t feel like a salesperson, yet we are. But because we don’t feel it, because there’s so much value in the exchange. And therefore people are ready to pay. That’s the future of sales. That’s where I want to bring you. OK.
But before I take you into this future and show you how it works, I need to tell you what we need to leave. And what we need to leave is selling. We need to move from what we call selling to co-creating. The rebirth of sales is to move away from the selling activity and really co-create value with our customers.
So what’s wrong with selling and how we’re going to do this move? If you look at sales today, what is sales? It’s about targeting customers in order to persuade them, that your product and services are better, and will offer your customers the promise of a better future. Now I don’t know how you feel but for me there’s three problems. I’ve got three problems.
The first one is targeting. I don’t want to be a target. I don’t know how you feel about being a target, but I don’t like that idea. But whether I like it or not, whether you like it or not, your names are somewhere out there in a database of a company, of a sales department, ready to be targeted to sell you something. I don’t like this. You may not like this. But that’s the reality.
And then they are not just targeting you. They’re going to persuade you. How do you feel about somebody coming to persuade you? I don’t like that. I like the feel in control of my own destiny. I don’t like the idea of somebody else is going to tell me what I should be doing. How do you feel about that? I am sure you don’t like it either.
And then they’re going to persuade us, with what? With a promise! “If you buy my products and services, the future tomorrow will be nice.” A promise? I want more than a promise. I want delivery.
So these three things in our view really have to fundamentally change. If you want to change sales and go into a mode which we call co-creating.
Now I am going to give you a few examples of companies who actually already are doing this today. The first one is an example of a multinational software company, that is actually moving away from persuasion to a mode of more collaborative selling. What are they doing? They’re specializing in high-tech technology, and they develop software projects with this technology for their clients.
Now we were working together two months ago together with them, and I invited them to come and present at one of my courses. And they came with Google glasses. They came and they showed the Google glasses to everybody in the room and they said “Isn’t this cool technology?” And everybody said, ‘Yeah! Really, we really want this!’
But what are you going to do with it in a company? What is really the advantage of Google glasses in a company? And think about it. As sales, we’ve been trained that if you want to sell something, we need to look at the problems and needs of your customer and persuade them with the benefits of your solution.
But what would possibly be the problem that needs of a company that would require Google glasses? They didn’t know. Probably the customers don’t even know it. So you can’t go and sell this. That was the point. We can’t go and sell, we have to transform our sales approach. How did they do that? They created around the world SPOC centers which is a fantastic toy shop for people who like gadgets, all the latest technologies out there. You go in there, you become 12 again. I promise you. And what they do is they invite their clients one by one, and then with the Google glasses, they say ‘Well, come on and have a look at Google glasses, try them on, test them and then have an experience with them, and then we’re going to have a brainstorm together as to what the value could be in your industry’.