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  • The New Solution Selling: The Revolutionary Sales Process That is Changing the Way People Sell
    The New Solution Selling: The Revolutionary Sales Process That is Changing the Way People Sell
    by Keith M. Eades, Keith Eades
  • The Solution Selling Fieldbook: Practical Tools, Application Exercises, Templates and Scripts for Effective Sales Execution
    The Solution Selling Fieldbook: Practical Tools, Application Exercises, Templates and Scripts for Effective Sales Execution
    by Keith M. Eades, James N. Touchstone, Timothy T. Sullivan
  • The Solution-Centric Organization
    The Solution-Centric Organization
    by Keith M. Eades, Robert Kear
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Just Released: The Collaborative Sale, a new book about the Buyer-Driven World

The Collaborative Sale
Solution Selling® in a Buyer Driven World

Upcoming Webcast Briefing
May 7, 2014  2:00 - 3:00 PM Eastern Time
Learn More »

“Buyer behavior has changed the marketplace, and sellers must adapt to survive.”
The Collaborative Sale: Solution Selling in a Buyer-Driven World is the definitive guide to the new reality of sales. The roles of buyers, sellers, and technology have changed, and collaboration is now the key to success on all sides. The Collaborative Sale guides sales professionals toward alignment with buyers, by helping them overcome their problems and challenges, and creating value. From building a robust opportunity pipeline and predicting future revenues to mastering the nuances of buyer conversations, the book contains the information sales professionals need to remain relevant in today’s sales environment.

Buyers have become more informed and more empowered. As a result, most sellers now enter the buying process at a much later stage than the traditional norm. The rise of information access has given buyers more control over their purchases than ever before, and sellers must adapt to survive. The Collaborative Sale provides a roadmap for adapting through sales collaboration, detailing the foundations, personae, and reality of the new marketplace. The book provides insight into the new buyer thought processes, the new sales personae required for dealing with the new buyers, and how to establish and implement a dynamic sales process. Topics include:

  • Selling in times of economic uncertainty, broad information access, and new buyer behavior
  • Why collaboration and transparency are essential and valuable to new buyers
  • The emergence of new sales personae – Micro-marketer, Visualizer, and Value Driver
  • Buyer alignment, risk mitigation, and the myth of control
  • Situational fluency, and the role of technology
  • Optimizing sales with the right people, learning and development, and technology enablement
  • Implementation and establishment of a dynamic sales process

The Collaborative Sale describes the essential competencies for collaborative selling, and provides indispensable supplemental tools for implementation. The book was co-authored by Keith M. Eades, Founder and CEO of SPI, and Timothy T. Sullivan, Director of Business Development at SPI, both leading authorities on global sales transformation. The Collaborative Sale: Solution Selling in a Buyer-Driven World is the essential resource for today’s sales professional.

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Don’t Dismantle the Sales Machine – Reinvent It

Over the past two months, we’ve navigated through 7 Forces That Will Disrupt Sales in 2014. Collectively, the impact of these seven forces make one thing abundantly clear - sales organizations need to (potentially radically) re-calibrate their thinking to survive and thrive in an environment of increasing change.

In recent times, the emergence of empowered buyers (one of our 7 forces) has fueled a great deal of debate regarding the value of process orientation for sales organizations. The implication here is clear – today’s buyers will perform their own information gathering, and often bypass sales entirely until they have formed their own hypothesis of a solution – relegating sales people to a “reactionary” mode.

While this disintermediation of “process” in the traditional sense seems intuitive, extensive research from CSO Insights (which annually studies more than 1,400 global sales executives) consistently indicates that nearly nine out of every ten organizations which implement a defined sales process report significant improvements in business performance, including:

  • Sales team goal attainment
  • Individual sales goal attainment
  • Forecast accuracy
  • Sales staff turnover reduction
  • Adoption and usage of CRM

That being said, it is important to note that CSO Insights refers to the highest level of process maturity as “dynamic” sales process. Companies do need some defined business framework for revenue generation – one that obviously includes a sales process (or “playbook”) function.

However, limiting the term “sales machine” to the process area is somewhat confining. From our perspective, the “sales machine” is more than a fixation on prescriptive (and potentially rigid) views of process. Based on multiple research perspectives, the sales machine of the future is a highly adaptive framework that is continually addressing three critical questions for the sales leader.

Are we continually assessing talent requirements based on our current business and applying analytics to determine linkage to outcomes?

Are we prioritizing learning and development activity on critical competencies and monitoring observable behaviors to ensure mastery?

Have we defined a coherent framework for sales enablement that is focused on supporting the buying process and its required competencies?

To survive and thrive in today’s world of hyper change, sales organizations have no choice but to reinvent themselves and become truly agile. To learn how, visit

Read the first post of the series: 7 Forces that will Disrupt Sales in 2014 »

Read Part 1: The Highly Informed Buyer »

Read Part 2: The Accelerated Pace of Change »

Read Part 3: The End of Competitive Advantage »

Read Part 4: The Millennials are Coming! »

Read Part 5: The War for Talent »

Read Part 6: You Will be Commoditized »

Read Part 7: The Emergence of Big Data »


7 Forces Disrupting Sales - #7: The Emergence of Big Data 

In 2013 alone, over a trillion gigabytes of new data were created globally – and much of the unstructured data was related to markets, sales, consumption, and buyer communications.  In fact, more data was created in the past two years than in the previous history of the world!

Perhaps the most comprehensive analysis of the business implications of big data has been underwritten by Mckinsey & Company.   Their analysis of more than 250 engagements over five years has revealed that companies that put data at the center of the marketing and sales decisions improve their marketing return on investment (MROI) by 15% to 20%.

McKinsey also found that companies that use data analysis effectively do three things well:

1. They discover opportunities through new patterns and insights that are data driven.

Many sales organizations use some form of quantitative methods to define territories and target market segments.  But new approaches to analytics are challenging traditional thinking by detecting patterns that reveal new types of “micro-markets” or “virtual” market segments that share certain buying characteristics.  In addition, time-based “markers” can be discovered that identify the most probable targets for specific offerings or value propositions.

2. They use data to understand a customer’s path to a purchasing decision.

One of the most challenging informational issues for marketing and sales organizations is understanding the buyer’s actual path to a purchase.  Many automated systems capture a “lead source,” but in reality a buyer may have been influenced by multiple factors in their purchasing journey.  Today’s buyers often move seamlessly between mobile devices and the web, and that means sales organizations need to develop complete profiles of these customers as they digitally interact across many areas of potential relevance.  Big data and analytics are allies in both tracking and synthesizing patterns that can improve allocation of marketing and sales resources.

3. They continually learn and improve.

From both a marketing and sales perspective, big data and analytics can provide correctional guidance over time as information accumulates.   Marketers can continually adapt messaging content that progressively has higher probabilities of resonating with specific buyers at specific moments in time.  And sales organizations that utilize defined “playbooks” can objectively test their intuition about what sales methods work in certain situations against hard data.  Analytics can also help to filter out unpromising leads before they reach sales, and qualifying out low probability time wasters.

So the question is, what is your sales organization doing to adapt its thinking and approach to the emergence of big data?   We won’t completely address that question here, but there are several major aspects of the “sales machine” to consider.


Traditional methods of segmentation and targeting need to be critically evaluated in light of new, analytics driven approaches.  For example, subjective and “intuitive” methods for identifying prospects with simple quantitative methods is being displaced in some industries by greater use of predictive analytics techniques.  In addition, opportunity qualification methods are being augmented by predictive approaches that more objectively guide salespeople’s allocation of time.  Sales messaging and tactics can also be refined over time as opportunity data accumulates.  Over time, virtually all aspects of sales methodology will progressively more data driven.


One of the biggest emergent areas of big data application is in Human Capital Management (HCM) – from both a recruiting and development perspective.  Sales organizational are increasingly using predictive analytics to filter prospective sales people, as well as align sales professionals to the appropriate role.  In many models, accumulated big data for specific selling roles serves as a reference basis for predictive validity.  In addition, teachable competencies can be integrated into an overall talent analytics model, and over time cause/effect relationships between specific competencies and business outcomes can be objectively determined.     


Numerous data / analytics companies are marketing themselves as “sales enablement” providers.  Of particular interest several companies are utilizing predictive analytics to provide refined targeting for sales professionals.  In essence, these big data applications sweep a diverse range of data sources identify “markers” that can be used to prioritize both marketing and sales activity.  In addition, analytics are being applied to opportunity analysis to both refine forecasting as well as objectively guide sales people in “go versus no-go” decisions.  Over time, the effectiveness of sales methods and playbooks can be tested from a data driven perspective as well.

Over the last several weeks we’ve navigated the 7 Forces Disrupting Sales in today’s rapidly changing marketplace.  At first glance, effectively responding to this array of challenges appears daunting.  But some sales organizations both adapt and thrive on a year-over-year basis.  In our next post, we will introduce the keys to becoming an agile sales organization – ready to confront the realities of hyper change as the new normal.

Missed the article before this? Read Part 6: You Will be Commoditized »

Read the next article in the series, the wrap up: Don’t Dismantle the Sales Machine - Reinvent it »


Webcast: The Visualization of Value in the Era of Collaboration 

The Visualization of Value in the Era of Collaboration

Tuesday, March 18, 2014
2:00 - 3:00 PM Eastern Time

View the recording »

Webcast Description:

Risk is at an all-time high, commoditization follows quickly on the heels of success, and buyers have more choices than ever in a global economy. So how can sales organizations differentiate and compel buyer preference?

Driving value is essential to mitigate your buyer’s perceptions of risk, at every stage of the sales cycle. And, it’s becoming increasing important to be able to lead with specific, quantitative value, which sometimes can be the launching point for a new opportunity. The ability to lead, sell, and close with value is an essential capability in today’s volatile market. To ensure accuracy of results, consistent delivery, and measurability, leading with value can be supported more effectively and efficiently by the right applications and tools.

The best ROI tools move beyond simply providing an ROI analysis, but instead are a platform to communicate value throughout the sales cycle. Further, a value analysis is best leveraged with collaboration from the buyer.

During this webinar, we explore:

  • What it means to “Visualize Value”
  • The importance of leading, selling, and closing with value, supported by advanced ROI applications
  • How integrated applications and tools help ensure accuracy of results, consistent delivery, and measurability
  • The importance of and approach to collaborating with buyers and why this essential in this new era of selling



Ken Cross, Director, Sales Enablement, Sales Performance International

Ken Cross is highly skilled in building strategic partnerships and alliances, opportunity advancement, account management, and creating engaging  presentations. In his role as a Director of Enablement at SPI, Ken is focused around advancing sales technology, process automation, thought- leadership  content development, product management, and consulting. He provides strategic direction in CRM and Sales Process alignment. Ken is an active writer and  frequent contributor to the Solution Selling Blog and other industry publications and forums. Ken holds a Bachelors Degree from Westminster College, PA.

Mike Genstil, Founder and CEO, VisualizeROI

Mike Genstil is the CEO and founder of VisualizeROI. Previously, Mr. Genstil held roles in strategy consulting, product management, business development, and channel sales at SAP, Adobe Systems, Lycos,, Liberty Mutual, and CDI. Mr. Genstil received an MS in industrial  engineering, as well as a BS  in computer science from Stanford University, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

View the recording »


7 Forces Disrupting Sales - #6: You Will Be Commoditized 

Emerging markets are rapidly gaining ground on developed economies. Emerging markets constituted just below half of world GDP in 2012, when converted to US$ at purchasing power parities, up from about one third in 2000. In the next decade this shift will continue at a much slower speed. By 2025, emerging markets will capture just over half of world GDP.

By 2050, emerging and growth markets will move from one third of the world’s GDP to two thirds – essentially “flipping” global economic output.  This new economic capacity is already creating hosts of new global competitors – further diminishing competitive advantage and driving price competition.  

In business literature, commoditization is defined as the process by which goods that have economic value and are distinguishable in terms of attributes (uniqueness or brand) end up becoming simple commodities in the eyes of the market or consumers. It is the movement of a market from differentiated to undifferentiated price competition and from monopolistic to “perfect competition.” (Wikipedia)

If you are successful, you will be imitated.  As a result, the ability to create and sustain defensible differentiation becomes progressively more difficult in virtually all markets, which often leads to a commodity perception – accompanied by declining revenue growth and margin erosion.  In the book The Solution-Centric Organization (McGraw-Hill 2006) we called this decline the “path to commoditization,” as illustrated in the figure below.

Global economic developments in the last two decades including the lowering of trade and investment barriers, the rise of telecommunication and transportation technologies, and other technological advances have accelerated the commoditization process for almost all forms of products and services – resulting in price wars and declining margins.

So the question is, what is your sales organization doing to adapt its thinking and approach to the pressures of commoditization?   We won’t completely address that question here, but there are several major aspects of the “sales machine” to consider.


According to research from Sirius Decisions, the number one reason for not meeting sales quotas was inability of sales people to effectively communicate value messages.  In the Solution-Centric Organization (McGraw-Hill), we emphasized not only the critical need to focus on issue-driven messages, but the integration of those messages into sales methodology and usable sales tools. Sales playbooks need to provide essential “how to’s” for integrating value messaging and differentiation early in the customer dialogue.


Competency frameworks need to consider the increased need for sales professionals to differentiate through the selling approach.  Skills and capabilities related to business acumen, ability to diagnose and explore customer challenges, and consultative dialogue will be foundational requirements to compete.


According to IDC, on average 90% of corporations surveyed require quantifiable proof of bottom-line benefits on most projects.  That means your sales team better be equipped with effective, rational ROI tools – that allow customer collaboration and input.  But just quantifying a return isn’t sufficient.  Sales enablement tools need to provide guides for differentiated value and competitive “knock outs.”

We are nearing the 7th and last disrupting force in this series. Stay tuned in the coming days as we examine the challenges of ‘The Emergence of Big Data’ and then tie our series together with an integrated approach to create a change resilient sales organization.

Missed the article before this? Read Part 5: The War for Talent »

Read the next article in the series, Part 7: The Emergence of Big Data »