“Do what you’ve always done, and you’ll get what you’ve always got.” So goes the phrase. Which increasingly, in a world in which the era of acceleration is changing what you sell and how you sell it, is a recipe for disaster.
With that, I give you what I’ve learned about internal sales force and dealer meetings – they are kind of a funny thing, and most of them usually end up with very little return on a substantial investment.
Why is this so? Because most companies are on autopilot – they pick a location, find some sort of “inspirational” phrase (“Achieving Excellence!”) – and spend a ton of money organizing the event. Then they go and find a motivational speaker who comes in and tells the sales team to ‘do you best, aim high’ exceed expectations.‘ (‘Achieve Excellence!’)
The message, overall, rings hollow, because everyone in the room has heard the same canned message before. They’re dulled to the idea; they’re complacent in their thinking; their bloated from inspiration. The result? The sales team hears the message, but just like Chinese food, forgets what it’s about within the hour, and go back to their old, set ways. Nothing changes.
They don’t ‘achieve excellence’ – they excel at being mediocre.
Meanwhile, the very essence of what the organization is trying to sell is changing, the current value proposition has been destroyed, the customer is more demanding, and disruption is destroying concepts held dear.
The organization is busy trying to sell a widget – but it’s not a widget anymore, no one wants a widget, and most of the rest of the world has moved beyond widgets!
Hence, my approach to sales and dealer meetings.
Smarter organizations have been booking me to headline these events, with a message that focuses on the fact that the future might be rendering their widget into a dustbin of irrelevance.
Watch this highlight clip from a recent keynote for the Philips medical devices annual sales meeting in Nashville. The organization knows that it is moving beyond selling singular medical devices, into selling a service based on some sort of new, hyperconnected, intelligent AI medical thing.
Volvo / Mac Trucks has had me in (twice!) for similar dealer meetings with a similar message – in the era of hyperconnected trucks, they are no longer just selling a truck – they are selling a service level uptime guarantee. I’ve done many other events with a similar message over the last 25 years.
The thing about Chinese food? Dude, WTF! I even address that issue on stage.