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Some Science of Selling.

I promised to give you some scientific evidence that M2M sales is more effective than "consultative selling." Here it is.

When in comes to selling, most of what passes as "science" is speculation and anecdotes. However, there is one exception: The HR Chally Group's research. Over the past 14 years, Chally has interviewed decision-makers at thousands of B2B customers, asking them to identify and characterize the sales professionals and organizations that are doing exceptional jobs.

During these discussions, customers have surfaced some 7,200 sales forces as examples of successful (and not so successful) sales methodologies and processes. This "ask the customers" methodology was the first to identify sales process innovations that later became famous, like IBM's matrix management and General Electric's use "six sigma" in sales environments.

Every few years, Chally announces the "HR Chally Awards," which honor what Chally CEO Howard Stevens calls the "best of the best in world-class sales organizations." Over the past 14 years, only 20 sales forces have been thus honored, including such luminaries as John Deere, DuPont, Exxon and IBM.

About a year ago, Chally announced four award winners, all of which significantly outperformed everyone else selling in their respective B2B markets:

  • Global Imaging Systems, Inc., a one-stop shops for copiers, fax machines, printers, video conferencing systems, network integration and management services.
  • Corporate Express, a supplier of office products, imaging/computer supplies, furniture, PC software/hardware, facility supplies, document/ print management technology.
  • Applied Industrial Technologies, an industrial distributor of bearings, power transmission components, fluidpower components/systems, industrial rubber products, linear components.
  • Insight Enterprises, a systems integrator that helps customers with technology purchase processes at all stages, from initial planning through to final implementation.
That's quite a mixed bag, but there's an important commonality between all four firms. None of them manufacture anything. All four firms focus entirely on fulfilling functions -- like purchasing office supplies -- that otherwise their customers would have to manage in-house. Remember: these are the firms that bubbled up to the top when customers were asked which sales forces they actually want to work with. In other words, all four of them were selling Manager-To-Manager (M2M) and then taking responsibility for the results.

To be precise, each of these four firms were selling M2M in a way that was exceptional, which is why they got enough customer kudos to win the Chally Award. However, all four of them were clearly working within the M2M sales model as the foundation for their success.

By the way, M2M selling has profound implications on how you present your company and it's offerings. I'll be going into that next week. As a preview, my first post will be entitled: "Solution Selling is Dead." You won't want to miss it, because I have a feeling that some of you are going to want to hand me my head on a platter after you read what I have to say.