Sunday, March 25, 2012

John Lennon, and Transitioning from Order Taking to Order Making

One of my favourite stories is the old legend of John Lennon setting out to 'write a swimming pool'.

Ever the cynic, Lennon (as the story goes) decided he wanted a swimming pool for his house, so he sat down to write a hit song that would generate the funds necessary to pay for it. Depending on which version of the story you get, the result was either 8 Days a Week, Hard Day's Night, or even Imagine.

As a Lennon fan, I choose to believe this story - because it's cynical, funny, a little subversive, and inspiring at the same time, and frankly, I really don't care to know if it's true or not!

I find the story inspiring because there's an innate sense of personal empowerment in it (embodied by Lennon), that essentially says: 'go get it'. It's a sense of empowerment that business leaders can learn from.

I'm telling this story because I've recently had discussions with two CEO's who are facing a crisis of sales - yet are reluctant to change their sales model. I challenged each of them with the question: "why are you just taking orders and not making orders?"

"Whuddya mean?"

Faced with declining sales, the challenge for both firms is to 'write a swimming pool'. Set short term turn-around goals, provide solutions/relationship selling training to the team, and install incentives and accountability systems to communicate a 'new sheriff's in town'.

Regardless of the economic situation of the sector, each firm needs to adopt a solutions-sales approach to reactivate old clients, reach out to them and listen to their changed purchase requirements, and find ways to present adapted-solutions to solve those needs.


In other words, stop just taking orders, and, by listening to their (now former clients), listen to what's needed, and provide what the market wants to buy, rather than what the firm wants to sell.


James Simone Leads Caffeine Performance Management - a firm that provides substantive performance improvements in the areas of sales growth, market share improvement, and customer, employee, and channel engagement.