Sales quotes from HBR

Sales quotes from HBR

Harvard Business Review coverThe July/August 2012 issue of the Harvard Business Review features the topic of sales. We found several thought-provoking quotes and wanted to share them with you.

The rules have changed

“…customers completed, on average, nearly 60% of a typical purchasing decision–research solutions, ranking options, setting requirements, benchmarking pricing, and so on–before even having a conversation with a supplier.”

“Can a customer act quickly and decisively when presented with a compelling case, or is it hamstrung by structures and relationships that stifle change?”

“Like other star performers, he knew that the way in was not to try to meet the customer’s existing needs but to redefine them. …he used an ‘insight selling’ strategy, revealing to the customer needs it didn’t know it had.”

“Whereas most reps rely on a customer to coach them through a sale, stars coach the customer.”

“They may still be selling solutions–but more broadly, they’re selling insights.”
The End of Solution Sales


“When routine functions can be automated, and when customers and prospects often have as much data as the saleswoman herself, the skills that matter most are heuristic: Curating and interpreting information instead of merely dispensing it. Identifying new problems along with solving established ones. Selling insights rather than items.”
A Radical Prescription for Sales


“The essence of selling is figuring out how what you’re offering will help customers accomplish their objectives–not your objective, their objectives. Anything else is pointless and self-serving.”
How One Entrepreneur Learned to Sell (in a Barroom)

Star salespeople

“Stars seem to knock down any target that stands in their way–but may stop working if a ceiling is imposed. Laggards need more guidance and prodding to make their numbers… Core performers fall somewhere in the middle; they get the least attention even though they’re the group most likely to move the needle–if they’re given the proper incentives.”
Motivating Salespeople: What Really Works


“Selling isn’t for sissies. But even if Ivy Leaguers prefer to talk about marketing and management, sales remains the core function of every company. Without sales, there is no business to manage.”
How One Entrepreneur Learned to Sell (in a Barroom)


“The coolest thing about my job at Ford is that I’m in charge of both marketing and sales. Most of our competitors have different people heading up those two functions. I think that’s a big mistake. You want marketing to be accountable for sales.”
How to Sell to Customers Who Know Everything


“Critical thinking, analytical skills, and the ability to negotiate have become more important than an outgoing personality.”

“As it happens, sales positions offer qualities that appeal to Millennials: autonomy, rewards linked to personal effort, and the opportunity to interact with a variety of people.”
Teaching Sales

Social media

“As sales professionals gravitate to social networking, they will find its tools most valuable in ‘front end’ prospecting and lead qualification, and in maintaining relationships after the deal has closed. Management can support reps’ communications with trainings and structure.”

“There are risks, but the worst of them are not the PR and legal issues…. Trickier to manage are lapses of etiquette, tone, and consistency. And the biggest risk of all … is to sit on the sidelines and leave social selling to your competitors.”

“Sales remains a relationship-driven activity, but ‘who you know’ is now trumped by ‘what you know about who you know.'”
Tweet Me, Friend Me, Make Me Buy


How are you training your sales force to meet current challenges in the marketplace? How are you retaining your best performers?



1 Comment

  1. Denver moving 10 years ago

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