I’ve talked to hundreds of enterprise customers and partners over the last year. Without fail, the number one executive priority, regardless of industry, is growth at scale. To get there in today’s landscape companies are migrating to a selling model where their customer is at the center of their sales teams, not their product.

The customer has more power than ever before and cares more about their needs than your product. It all started with mobile and social, and the rise of big data has only increased expectations. Customers not only expect you to know them, but to also proactively act on their behalf.

When it was a product sell, a multi-product sell, or a solution sell, the product could be at the forefront. But now that the customer is at the center, it needs to be a conceptual sell.

There is this car analogy I like to use.

A lot of people see problems in the rearview mirror, and that’s a product sell, because they’re simply replacing something.  

A solution sell involves selling problems in the car as your customer is figuratively driving down the road. Tell me everything that is going in the car and I’ll tell you what you should be doing.

A conceptual sell is out the front windshield. This is where you could be going, this is how you get there. Plus it solves the problems that are in the car and the ones that are in the rearview mirror as well. Where you can go equals growth, and as mentioned, everybody is looking for growth.

Although this shift to concept selling would have likely been a natural evolution — because of how fast mobile has taken over, how fast social has permeated all aspects of people’s lives, and how quickly the big data wave is coming at folks — companies now have to react and adapt faster than ever before.

There’s a Peter Drucker principle that’s been out there for years. He’s widely considered the best thought leader in business transformation, and I’m a big fan. He said that you have to make internal changes as fast or faster than external forces — customers, competitors, industry — are moving for you to gain growth.

If you’re not accounting for that in terms of how you enable your sales teams from a mobile, social, and big data perspective, then the expectations of your customers, the pressures of partners, and your internal requirements for growth are not going to be met. You simply won’t be able to move fast enough.

You need to move the customer to the center of everything you do, because at the end of the day that is what the customer company is about and where you will find growth. You can only get to this place, and engage your customers conceptually, by choosing the best enabling technology on the planet for the foundation. You shouldn’t compromise.

The customer has more power than ever before and cares more about their needs than your product.”

Tony Owens | President of AMER Enterprise Sales, Salesforce
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