The Pet Shop or Dead Parrot sketch has nothing to with sales enablement, but it is celebrated as one of the most famous Monty Python sketches and I thought it would be fun to show it at Halloween.


First aired in 1969, The sketch portrays a conflict between disgruntled customer Mr Praline, (played by John Cleese) and a shopkeeper (Michael Palin), who hold contradictory positions on the vital state of a “Norwegian Blue” parrot. It pokes fun at the many euphemisms for death used in British culture. (Wikipedia)

I’m old enough to remember the Monty Python series and at the time it was a huge success and a must-watch. Looking at the Parrot sketch 40 years-on, it’s showing its age. It’s amusing and interesting to see John Cleese and sidekick Michael Palin at work in their heyday however. 

If we compare the sales process today, with the sales process 30 years ago, we will find that it hasn’t changed much either and its showing its age.

Here is the sales process I used for the first 25 years in my selling career. The graphic is excerpted from an eLearning program I wrote in 2008. It’s amusing to look at this 5 years-on since I wrote it… it represents my prior sales-centric view of a the sales cycle – which of course is totally disconnected for how buyers buy in 2013

My Old Sales Process – now Outdated

Buyers don’t behave like they did 30 years ago, or even 10 years ago.

They don’t need a supplier’s sales process to execute their buying process and they avoid speaking with salespeople unless they absolutely have to -and then only to clarify or differentiate between choices or configurations or to negotiate a discount.

B2B Buyers execute a buying process, which doesn’t vary and where salespeople are spectators rather than facilitators of that buying process.

Therefore sales and marketing teams need to rethink how to best serve buyers as they execute their buying process. The IMPACT Buying process is a unversal process shown in the graphic below. Position is the point in the buying process at which most leads die and thus is marked in red. 

The IMPACT Buying Process 

The Need for Sales and Marketing Alignment

To be successful marketing or selling your technology or services products it will help to view sales and marketing as one continuous system that maps onto the customer buying process. 

But first let’s look back at where we have come from, because many companies run sales and marketing as silos and have not yet migrated to an aligned sales and marketing model. In the old days (10 + years ago), sales and marketing were separate fiefdoms with different, disconnected agendas. 50% of marketing budgets were wasted, only marketers couldn’t tell which half.

Cost of sales in the old sales model was high and relationships with clients were treasured. Salespeople used rigid sales and account planning methods and multi-level selling to get to the influencers in an account.

Old School Sales and Marketing Approaches

                  Marketing                                              Sales    

Trade Shows

Build Lists

Advertising, PR, Direct Mail

Cold Call High

Top-down Messaging

Elevator Pitch

Company Pitch

Questioning Models

Press Mentions

Always be Closing

New approaches to sales and marketing and supporting technologies have enabled a transformation in the way prospective customers are engaged to better facilitate the way customers wish to buy.

“Always be closing” has transitioned to “always be helping”.

Successful salespeople in the future will;

  • Seek to engage mentors at the outset of their journey when they first become leads in a doctor/patient relationship vs. a more adversarial and pressured sales/prospect relationship
  • Build trust with Mentors by helping them with their problems.
  • Ask for the Mentor help to engage with the Decision Maker at the appropriate time. 

Modern Sales and Marketing Alignment Approach

             Marketing                                   Sales  

Blogging, video

Social Media Engagement

SEO, Social Media

Lead intelligence, activity

Thought Leadership

Thought Leaders

Landing Pages

Lead Definition, hand-off

Lead Nurturing,

Buyer Facilitation

Contextual Engagement

Helping vs. Closing

When you understand each of the buying process steps, you can ask buyers where they are in their buying process… and they will tell you. Salespeople typically think that the buyer is one or two steps in advance of where they actually are in their buying cycle and this is a primary contributor to crystal-ball forecasting inaccuracy.

The graphic below overlays the IMPACT buying process onto the sales funnel. (IMPACT is a concept from the book, Why Killer Products Don’t Sell, by Ian Gotts and Dominic Rowsell.)

What is common across the IMPACT buying process and a critical success factor for suppliers today is the need for responsive engagement.

When buyers visit your Website and complete a form to accept your offering, if you can respond the buyer within 5 minutes, of completing the form, you

eBook: Building Highly Responsive Sales Teams  Download

will initiate more conversations and engage more opportunities that will turn into customers than your competitors who respond the next day.

When buyers reach out late in their buying cycle for pricing and configuration information, the supplier who responds first, with relevant context has a competitive advantage.

Download the Responsive Sales Enablement eBook to learn more.

Topics: Sales Enablement, smart selling tools

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