I believe that the blog at Harvard Business Review believes that it is. Once again, HBR was nice enough to run another article for me to dig into.
This year, their authors consistently wrote articles on selling despite not really knowing enough about what's going on in the real world. They are many levels removed from the field and rely on interviews with academics and corporate types (insulated executives in large companies) for their opinions of what has changed and what is required today.
While the four requirements which they list are valid (salespeople today do need to have more capabilities), that which really angered me was their use and placement of the word "influencing". It appears almost as an afterthought to their fourth category, "Management skills and capabilities".
Even if we accepted their concept of people in sales roles, instead of salespeople (semantics?), the entire concept of what selling actually entails seems lost on some of their writers. So, hear this:
- Regardless of which technology is embraced;
- Regardless of which sales model, process or methodology is used;
- Regardless of which markets into which you are selling;
- Regardless of on which decision-makers you call;
- Regardless of what you sell or to whom you sell it;
- Regardless of your price points and competition;
- Regardless of the length of your sales cycle;
- Regardless of the resistance you get;
- Regardless of the obstacles you must overcome;
influencing will continue to be the single most important skill:
- to overcome initial resistance;
- to differentiate and effectively position your offering;
- to help prospects understand the value which you bring to the table;
- to get prospects to share important information about issues, opportunities and challenges;
- to align prospects on their compelling reasons to buy from you instead of the competition;
- to standardize on your offering;
- to find the money;
- to get you in front of the right people;
- to buy from you!
- you are new,
- you are more expensive,
- you have a new technology,
- you aren't the market leader,
- you don't have the best product, or
- you aren't the default choice,