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The Theory of Evolution for Channel Partners — Part 2

February 18, 2013 - Article

Buying Behavior Shifts Sales Model

By Pam Avila

Wake up! The days of selling products are long over. There’s a reality that we all need to face sooner rather than later — the traditional channel partner business models and strategies are evolving through necessity. Aside from the convergence of voice, data, video and mobility technologies, a major driver for this evolution is the change in how and why customers are making their buying decisions. This shift requires a very different sales model than the channel has used in the past.

Today, a consultative selling sales team can mean the difference between success and failure for a channel partner. For years we’ve given lip service to “consultative selling" (aka "solution selling"), but few salespeople actually know how to do it. And too many business owners and sales managers are unaware of the long-term price that is paid for continued product-focused selling.

Consultative selling requires a different set of skills than typical product (feature/benefit) selling. One required skill is the ability to identify all of the players and the role of each in the process. More people involved in the sales process means the salesperson will need to know how to manage a complex sales process. Who are the influencers? Who are the true decision makers?

In 77 percent of companies queried in a 2011 study by the IT association CompTIA, the executive staff was involved in technology decision making. The line-of-business managers and department heads also have become involved in the process. The point of entry for technology sales into a business is no longer always the IT manager or CIO; it is with the executives running departments where the “pain" is felt.

Another skill is understanding the real criteria for making a buying decision. These line-of-business managers and department executives are looking for tools that will help them solve a business problem or address a business need. They are not looking for “technology." CFOs are approving expenditures only if they meet at least one of these criteria:

  • improve overall profitability
  • increase revenue
  • reduce expenses
  • improve competitive position
  • improve customer service
  • address the needs of a changing workforce (remote, mobile, tech-savvy)
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