I’m David Hughes, EVP Sales and Marketing for Longview Solutions. A little bit about myself, I started my career in Sales and have stayed in Sales for 37 years now, and there’s nothing else I do. I’ve worked with hardware and software companies mostly, started my career at Digital Equipment, worked for SAS running Asian Pacific Sales in Canada and the Caribbean, and worked in supply chain industry for a while as well, mostly Sales Transformation, so moving from a product to a solution sale for a price to value from bender to partner, and that journey and everything that it entails. *
Why is having a sales methodology important?
We’ve grown up in sales with, I think, a bit of a bad reputation, and that reputation comes because of an
history of the perception of sales as a relationship-based solely, and the ability to kind of convince somebody to pay more money than they want for something they don’t need, and that’s kind of what we were as a profession. It is a profession and I believe that there is a science to it as much as there is an art, the importance of the methodology, well, first of all, there is repeatability and process, which is clear. But the second thing about it is that it really provides you with an ability to codify what many people think is a random act, and I think what has been proven over time is that although there is no, and this is something that is kind of a bone of contention to me, although there is no universally accredited degree program in sales from a university standpoint, although some colleges do have it, there is as much a profession and science and methodology to sales as any other discipline. So, provide you with repeatability in a process, provides you with a solid foundation to make it repeatable, and to make it more of a profession than a random act of sales.
Why was SPI and Solution Selling a fit for you?
I have probably been through every selling methodology, not every but most of them, and they all have their strength, each is unique for its own particular element that is strong, and solution selling is the only methodology that I’ve seen that is the most effective at diagnosing what really matter, at the end of the day it is really not about selling at all, it’s about motivating customers to buy from you, because they’re fundamentally convinced that what you provide will help them make a measurable difference in your business, and that’s the difference between a pull and a push. Solution Selling is more of a pull than a push, it is really about diagnosing what really matters, any important elements in the customer business that will make a measurable difference, and helping those customers connect those dots, and it really is again about motivating customers to buy, based on proof points, that you can help them solve very critical issues that have measurable impact as opposed to selling. None of the other methodologies out there do that.
What has it been like working with SPI?
I’ve had a tremendous relationship with SPI, I remember that my first interaction with SPI was a life-changing experience for me, and I’ve always positioned with sales professional that, if you invest in this, this will change your life, and I honestly believe that, it sounds like a little tray, but it’s absolutely true. Like more sales professionals I used to have conversation with my pal and say, our well-being is no longer at the expenses of somebody else’s whim to make a decision to buy what I’m selling. And it was solution selling and SPI that actually changed that forever and changed my career trajectory because I realize that it really wasn’t about somebody’s whim at all. It was really about, if you really understand costumer’s business pain, you can make a tremendous career out of helping companies change their business. SPI made a measurable difference to every company. I’ve been implementing solution selling nine times now, and SPI has helped me through that and made a measurable difference, not only in my customer’s business, but in my company’s business, by making a dramatic improvement in win rate cycle time, all of the metrics that we follow had fundamentally results, better win rates and more success. And so, personally, my career has been made better by the folks at SPI, very collaborative group of folks, they will really do whatever it takes to help your company obtain that measurable difference and improvement in sales result.
What advice do you have for your peers?
Change is hard, change is hard at first, as I always say, there is a fellow named Robin Sharma who came up a phrase to capture it: “change is hard at first, messy in the middle, and gorgeous at the end”. And it’s a journey, not a light switch, is a dimmer switch, and so, the biggest piece of advice I would give to any sales leader is that change involves bringing change agents aboard with you. There are those in the company that are going to want to grasp change and run with it, there are those that are gonna have a wait and see and there are those that are just not going to want to make that change. But if you’re able to insert change agents in your organization who understand the journey and are embracing change, they are innovators. Then those people will help affect that change. Change is a difficult thing and you have to stick to it and stick to the process. Solution Selling® works, but you have to power through the difficult times, change is hard at first and you really have to power through it. So, take the training, learn it, apply it, take the training again, apply it more, coach, apply, coach, apply… I’ve taken Solution Selling seven or eight times in every organization that I joined, I sit in the room with the sellers and take the training, its’ key.
Please describe the value of this conference.
Yeah, I think that the biggest value point is the information exchange, we had people in the room that were from various industry, various level of maturity in implementing solution selling, and everybody had a wealthof information to share, and I think everybody walkedout of the room with some notes in their book of things that they can do differently. Implementing SolutionSelling is a little bit like be a new parent, you come home with a baby from the hospital, you put the baby in the middle in the middle of the bed and you say,”ok so what do we do now?”. And that’s the moment where it is good to have colleaguesthat have done this before. You can call them. SPI is very helpful and those that have gone through it with SPI can also help, this is what I didto tackle upthe core issue, it’s a journey and we’re all learning through this journey, lifelong learning.