December 19, 2022
A New Sales Strategy: Remove the Sales Team
I know, this month's newsletter title is blasphemy to many. Take a look at this short case study below and let me know your thoughts. Is this the future of B2B selling??
Bandish Nayee is no stranger to the world of outbound sales. His career included years of smiling and dialing, selling technology and consulting across the UK and overseas. And this is why his decision to remove his entire sales team four years ago seemed so surprising. His idea: Build a community of his target audience, IT leaders, and provide them with an environment to network and learn from one another.
Bandish’s experience illustrates a growing trend of businesses that are adapting to changing sales cycles by building customer ecosystems rather than using traditional sales tactics.
From Smiling and Dialing to Listening and Leading
It was the a few days after the new year of 2013 when Bandish started his own IT reseller business called 64TEQ. His plan was to go all-guns blazing with outbound sales teams. It worked well enough, but as anyone in tech sales knows, it takes a ton of effort and rejections to win deals. Research suggests it’s getting worse.
In 2007, it took an average of 3.5 call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes over 8.
There are also more decision makers involved which makes navigating prospect accounts more complicated. Perhaps the most important trend today is that buyers conduct their own online research resulting in 50-90% of their decision making happening before they even speak with a sales rep.
Today there are more buyers, they are harder to connect with, and they are more tech savvy. Have sales teams adapted to this changed environment?
Does the smiling and dialing / wining and dining approach work anymore?
Bandish hired a coach to help him figure out what kind of business he wanted to build. He found Simon Hartley, a sports psychology coach and author, based outside of York and the two quickly hit it off. Together they worked through issues including hiring the right people and managing them the right way. Bandish found himself in meetings with prospects spending more time discussing his coaching topics than talking about his technology products.
Prospects liked it.
The problems these tech leaders were having weren’t about technology; those answers were easy to find. The real problems involved managing the people who handled the technology. Conversations about hiring and engaging employees were more popular than talking tech. This conversational approach focused more on building real connections rather than technology-driven features and benefits. 64TEQ’s close rates increased with this softer messaging.
Sadly, in 2019 both Bandish’s parents died within a few months of one another and as the shock of the loss caused him to look at his business with new eyes. Surely there was a better way to spend the fleeting time on this planet other than calling numbers that usually rang out or talking to prospects who were not yet ready to talk to sales reps? He wanted to help people, not just bother them until they bought tech products.
Only a few months later, Covid-19 engulfed the world with death, fear and economic turmoil. For many, there was a collective trauma that led to similar epiphanies Bandish experienced after the death of his parents. Do I want to spend my time working on something that doesn’t give me a purpose?
Bandish’s new idea was logical but unconventional. He replaced his entire sales and marketing departments with a team whose goal was to build a community of IT leaders focused on sharing information and helping one another.
Instead of marketing webinars looking to sell the newest technology, Bandish invited authors, business leaders and other thought-provoking panelists to share their insights that often had little to do with solving technology problems and instead focused on people problems.
Tech leaders attend these events without having to sit through traditional sales pitches and thinly veiled presentations designed to sell products. As Bandish put it, “80% of the time, it’s about the people, not the technology.”
This enlightened inbound strategy takes time. Nearly three years into this structural change 64TEQ continues to experiment with the team setup and messaging. Tech buyers are conditioned to expect a sales pitch, if they don’t hear from a salesperson, they assume there’s nothing for sale. Being too passive can be as dangerous as being too pushy.
Currently Bandish leads the initiative along with Community Builders, a Head of Social and a Community Manager and various outsourced talents. And that is the new version of a sales and marketing team – agile and purpose-drive - a long way from the boiler rooms of the past.
This transition takes time and like all sales, it is a numbers game. The community needs to get to a certain size for this to work and Bandish and his team continue to spread the word and tell their story.
As customer behaviour continues to change, 64TEQ is an example of a company thinking differently about adding value in a world that is looking for less pushy sales reps and more thoughtful advisors.
 I found out about 64Teq when Bandish invited me to speak at one of his events. As with other authors, he mailed out copies of my book to any of his community who attended the talk. I was curious about his business model and that’s how this article was born.