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What is Sales Enablement?

August 27, 2012 in Sales Culture, Sales Driven Organisations, Sales Pioneer

The term ‘Sales Enablement’ has emerged in recent times as a hot topic in the world of sales, however it can have as many interpretations as there are sales teams which leave people feeling somewhat confused about what it really means and entails. Here are some people interpretations from online sales forums:

  • Sales enablement” means being given the tools to sell… simple as that…
  • A practice / culture of telling the client what is truthful and deliverable so that an informed buying decision is committed to by a money input from the buyer, this is effective sales enablement.
  • Sales enablement is strategic, but a lot of tactical steps are necessary on this thousands miles journey.
  • Sales enablement is one of the catch phrases that has emerged based on the Sales 2.0 movement. Many of the 2.0 technology vendors use it in their messaging
  • Sales Enablement is the ongoing objective evaluation (and remediation – if required) of sales execution and support activities, to ensure the optimum balance of selling behaviour effectiveness and efficiency is being achieved with the customer, and is reflected in KPIs, results and customer satisfaction.
  • Without a doubt, sales enablement is marketing responsibility. In fact marketing responsibility is almost everything involved to make sure that a sale can happen (minus the actual field sales work).
  • Sales Enablement is providing the right information and marketing assets to the right people at the right time to accelerate buying cycles and to increase revenue.

centre of sales excellence logo

You can see my point about the confusion. Well, hopefully this will be put to rest on 28 & 29 August 2012 at the fourth annual CSE Sales Leadership Conference where the theme is: Sales Enablement- Accelerate Sales Growth through Excellence, Execution and Innovation. The conference speakers will endeavour to define the concept of Sales Enablement and present cases studies that show how it can be executed effectively. To give you some insights into this topic Barrett’s Sales Strategist, Dr Peter Finkelstein, a key note speaker at the conference, has kindly provided us with a mini preview of his 11 page white paper presentation. Enjoy.

Peter Finkelstein says that Sales Enablement is a prize worth going for. Being the first organisation in a sector to get it right gives you (or if you hesitate, your rivals) an advantage that competitors will have difficulty matching. And best practice in Sales Enablement, when implemented effectively and for the right reasons, delivers handsome bottom-line results.

 

So What is Sales Enablement?

Sales Enablement – at Barrett we prefer to call it “Sales Fitness” – is the enterprise-wide discipline of creating an environment that helps salespeople sell more effectively by providing them with insights into buyer motivations, organisational behaviour and sales segment activities. It’s about allowing sales managers to lead their teams to higher levels of performance. It’s about creating a structure that promotes an extrinsic view – placing customers at the centre of the organisation – rather than on the fringe. It is also about having the right sales hygiene, effective sales governance and the appropriate use of technology. Sales Fitness is as much about ensuring well structured sales support, as it is about removing the shackles that inhibit sales performance. It is about encouraging salespeople to perform all of the tasks that collectively make up the function of “selling” in the most efficient way possible, with the least risk to either the corporation or the customer.

Sales Fitness

Sales Fitness

The effective deployment of any Sales Fitness initiative doesn’t rely on technology, but certainly uses it. However, those systems that inhibit flexibility and restrict the latitude salespeople now have to be replaced with technology that enables salespeople to sell more effectively.

Success in implementing Sales Fitness initiatives will really only be realised when management acknowledge (as Peter Drucker pointed out some decades ago) that: “The purpose of business is not to make a profit, but rather to satisfy customer needs. The consequence of satisfying those needs is an increase in profits”

For Sales Fitness to deliver the kind of results expected sales and marketing have to forge new, stronger and more meaningful partnerships with both recognising the value of the other.

In my view the greatest inhibitor to Sales Fitness lies with management’s lack of real understanding of sales and selling. Reality is that most senior managers, with all of their education have only a theoretical understanding of selling. Just consider some of the major business degrees – even an MBA or a BCom. – very little time is spent on the subject of sales and selling. In most the concept of selling is mentioned as part of the marketing mix, not as a vital part of the value chain.

Sales Fit organisations have learned that the real target is share of mind, not share of wallet. They know that if their salespeople are Enduring Resources, rather than product / service vendors they stand a better chance of forming meaningful partnerships with their customers that then results in incremental business on a sustained basis!

Finally is about ensuring that Sales becomes an equal part of the value chain: If you really want a Sales Enabled/Sales Fit organisation stop disrespecting the people in the sales function. Instead, invite sales to be part of the primary activities of the value chain; involve them in finding solutions, not simply being the problem; respect their insight and learn to trust and use the feedback to continually improve the way you do things.

The Barrett team will be attending the conference and, as always, we will report back on the key finding from the conference.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au

 

Why Sales doesn’t have its rightful place at the boardroom table?

August 17, 2012 in Education in Sales, Sales Culture, Sales Driven Organisations, Sales Excellence Acadamy, Sales Leadership, Sales Management, Sales Pioneer, Sales Training, Self Development

The 8th August 2012 was a milestone for Professional Salespeople around Australia: until that day there had been no officially recognised benchmark for professional selling at tertiary level. Whereas Finance, Marketing, Production, Engineering, IT, Business Administration, Research & Design, Human Resources, Logistics, Procurement and even Entrepreneurship all have recognized tertiary qualifications, Professional Business Selling is the last role in the Value Chain to be officially recognised in this space. So here we are – It has taken over 100 years for Selling to make it on the Australian Tertiary Curriculum.

Peter Finkelstein: Head Sales Strategy – Barrett Consulting Group gave a speech about Selling and its journey to legitimacy. Here is a summary of his speech at the Barrett – Swinburne University partnership launch to provide Australia’s first VET accredited, University endorsed sales training and development program, providing both a Diploma in Business and Certificate 4 in Business Sales.

Throughout my global travels I’ve noticed a universal truth – no-one aspires to becoming a salesperson..

every other career but sales

every other career but sales

When I asked 142 boys and girls in Year 12 what their career choice was for when they left school answers included doctors, pilots, architects and marketing but not Sales.

So we come to the question – why does sales enjoy so little respect in the business mix that even children fail to regard it as a career choice? Everyone knows that without an effective sales function companies will not generate the revenue needed to sustain their business. Why then, is Sales so disrespected by management, academics and management scientists and even by young adults on the verge of going into business?

In my experience there are four reasons that stand out. Firstly it was the history of selling started the rot. Then, in the 1960′s Sales was high-jacked by marketing. Then there’s the general lack of understanding of the salesperson’s role by management and lastly the state of denial that many salespeople live with.

The history of selling started it. We’ve all heard tales of the “Snake oil Salesmen” – salesmen who travelled from town to town selling off the back of a wagon with empty promises of salvation and remedies that would solve every ailment. Buyers’ impression of salespeople at that time, “Don’t trust them. They tell lies to get you to buy.”

As the market matured and customers built resistance, salespeople developed different hard sell techniques. Snake oil selling was replaced with Mood then Barrier and finally Formula Selling. All three techniques designed to trap and manipulate customers into buying.

In the 1960′s, when the concept of formula selling failed to deliver the expected results, management turned to marketing for advice. After all marketing professionals were educated, had some form of university degree and were thus better qualified to answer sales problems than sales managers who only had a lot of experience on their side.

Given the confidence (misplaced as it may have been) that management has in marketing, it is not surprising that marketing high jacked Sales. Suddenly the “experts” on the subject of all things related to Sales and selling were marketing professionals.

They developed sales campaigns, took over the interface with management and became the custodians of customer knowledge and experts on customer profiles, behaviour, habits and needs.

The reality is that marketing did such a great public relations job, management saw them as squirrels – cute, cuddly and non-threatening – as opposed to sales, who are viewed as rats – hard, threatening and pushy. Management seems to have forgotten that both squirrels and rats are rodents. Sales and marketing are two sides of the same coin – equal partners who need one another.

Few senior executives come up through the ranks of sales. Most are accountants, engineers, MBAs, etc. Perhaps it’s because management have been to university, whereas salespeople have generally not, to be top earning professionals, that this skewed view has evolved. Most boardrooms see expert opinions sought from Finance, HR and Marketing but when the challenge is a sales problem everyone has an expert opinion for the sales manager (who is seldom invited to the board meeting).

Perhaps it’s the behaviour of salespeople and their managers – after all most salespeople are extrovert, apparently insensitive to the feelings of others, always out of the office enjoying the great weather, having long lunches and early evening drinks. If they get all the perks the least they can do is be humble and deliver the high volumes of sales the company demands

“Many salespeople today neglect to place the word “sales” on their business cards.”

Lastly, too many salespeople live in a state of denial. Many salespeople today neglect to place the word “sales” on their business cards. They have little respect for themselves or their profession preferring titles such as account manager, pre-sales support executive and consultant.

The fact is salespeople are trained in what they do. They learn about their products and services; about their competitors and their products and services, about their market, customers’ and their business, about marketing and about relationship building; about production, distribution and financial issues. They learn to understand costs and margins – if not the use of models, then certainly the practical application of them. And in the process they learn some selling skills. If they don’t do that their chances of making it are almost null.

That’s right. Professional salespeople spend a lot more than five years studying. The nature of the craft is one that demands practical implementation, so they learn and study on the job. Like tradesmen, they serve an apprenticeship that takes them through the stages of development until they can stand alone, un-supervised. So yes, they may not have university degrees and may not have studied for three years on a trot, but they are well trained and just as competent as other executives.And now, if they and their companies invest in these same salespeople getting a Diploma in Business they can reduce the learning curve, shorten the sales development cycle and fast-track their return on investment.

 

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au

B2B Field sales force to halve

June 28, 2012 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Communication, Customer Service, Education in Sales, Sales Culture, Sales Driven Organisations, Sales Pioneer, Sales Tips, Sales Training

What will sales teams look like over the next 5-10 years? How will we sell to and service our clients? Will our businesses actually require field sales representatives as all?

With ‘Field Sales Force Numbers To Halve’ voted the sixth most important sales trend for 2012 from The 12 Sales Trends of 2012 by our readers, these are critical questions business and sales leaders need to ask themselves if they want to have an effective sales effort.

WHY? With access to so much information available and a plethora of Me2 products to choose from, buyers have grown more sophisticated and better informed as consumers, especially in the B2B (business to business) space. The savvy business person knows that many of those commodity purchases they have traditionally made face-to-face with a sales representative can now be made online or via a telephone sales service centres thus saving them valuable time and money.

mayor transition ...

mayor transition ...

With the growth in client sophistication and the commoditisation of products themselves we are seeing the beginning of a massive restructure of sales forces as clients go online, and ditch the ‘order taker’ who adds no value. Smart sales leaders know this sacred cow is not long for this world. Seeing no real return in transactional field sales teams, many companies are now looking at either a major restructuring of their sales effort or major re-education of their sales teams.

Some companies have already begun planning for a major transition into the blended world of online and personal selling. Looking at their offerings, their clients’ buying preferences and the total cost of sale, these sales leaders are having to make strategic business decisions about whether they:

  1. choose to be in transactional, low margin business where products act as commodities and clients can be serviced via online and call centres with no or some minimal field representation at major account level

    OR

  2. choose to be in complex offering and invest in field sales forces that add real value to clients beyond the product itself and work in partnership educating clients on how to run a better business and achieve better results as the value moves from product to the value of intellectual property and ideas.

If businesses choose field force representation, the changes required in field sales force capability are monumental as we now require sales people to evolve into business people who can sell. Field sales forces will only remain relevant by working in the complex, unique solution space where their business acumen combined with a range of professional capabilities such teacher & facilitator, consultant, problem solver & preventer, financial manager, diplomat, and so on

transactional sales

transactional sales

will be of real value to their clients. Clients / buyers will only want to see and work with people who are willing to work in a collaborative manner with clear mandates and transparent practices. Trust will feature highly in these relationships as will continuous education and learning enabled by these more enriching and evolving relationships. This is where real relationships will be forged, based on substance and integrity and where a fair exchange of real value can flourish.

Those businesses who choose the transactional model need to make sure that they are easy to do business with; that purchases are uncomplicated; and when clients ask questions they should get answers easily – no run-around, no fuss, streamline and efficient.

As we transition into a more complex world the decisions we make about the business of our business will affect, positively or negatively, our future relevance and success. Choose wisely because the middle ground is fast disappearing.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.
Author: Sue Barrett, www.barrett.com.au

We have some very exciting news coming soon! In the mean time, it would be great if you could help us by completing this 5 minutes survey. Should sales be studied at degree level at University? Thank you!

The Latest (disturbing) Findings From The World of Sales

October 13, 2011 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Business Acumen, Procurement, Sales Pioneer

For the third year running I recently had the privilege and pleasure of attending, presenting and acting as MC at the CSE11, Asia Pacific’s Premier Sales Leadership Conference – “The New Era of Professional Selling; The Pathway from Supplier to Partner Status”.

Over 150 delegates from Australia’s premium companies attended and we heard from some of the world’s leading experts on sales capability, strategy and culture. There was much talk about the rapidly changing face of our B2B (business to business) sales world and how we need to build relevant and sustainable partnerships if we are to flourish. One of the highlights was hearing from one of Australia’s top Procurement Leaders, Craig Rooney who is the Group Procurement Manager for Porter Davis Homes and former Coles Group Procurement Manager. Craig’s insights were well received and gave us all a clear picture of how to build a Pathway from Supplier to Partner Status with 21st Century Procurement Professionals. Like Selling, Craig pointed out that the profession of Procurement is undergoing dramatic evolution to adapt to the volatility of today’s business world.

Measuring Brain Waves

Measuring Brain Waves

The importance of Coaching to achieve real sales capability, results, and cultural transformation was a strong message as was the need to genuinely merge and unite sales and marketing, with the rise and rise of social media as a critical piece in the sales machine. And the emergence of Neuroscience to our effective and sustained performance in sales was a highlight at this conference with live experiments on show.

Another key and somewhat disturbing message was Adapt or Perish. The world of B2B selling is changing so rapidly that it is now polarising into two distinct areas, with the likelihood of a particular style of B2B sales person becoming extinct in the next few years.

There’s no longer a middle ground in B2B sales. What you now have is a polarisation of sales approaches:

1. B2B Transactional Selling
2. B2B Complex Selling

B2B Transactional Selling is commodity based selling where there is no product differentiation and price or cost is the only priority. The Pathway from Supplier to Partner Status is not relevant here and this is where we are likely to see the extinction or death of the transactional salesman as the costs to run (such as field sales force with diminishing returns) will see businesses re-thinking their go-to-market strategy. Those B2B field sales teams that persist in selling product will be treated as commodity sales people who add no real value. Customers will therefore not waste their time seeing or dealing with them. Eventually, we’ll see the sale of commodity based products move to internal phone sales teams and/or direct to online sales portals. In many instances this is already happening.

Complex Sale

Complex Sale

This leaves B2B field sales people in the world of complex selling requiring a whole different level of skills, knowledge and mindset. I have written previously in Know Your Business about the importance of business acumen in sales and becoming a business person who can sell which is even more of a priority now. I have also written previously about The Sales Pioneer the emerging breed of sales professional whose key characteristics rest in the ability to challenge and educate the client, bring insight and wisdom in their areas of expertise to the table and work in collaboration with clients to produce real results. The genuine Sales Pioneers are the ones who will flourish and prosper along with their clients in the 21st century yet these people are not all that easy to find or develop.

This brings me to consider ‘how do we professionalise selling?’ and create a pathway to becoming the Sales Pioneer Professional. The thinking and capabilities required to succeed in today’s complex sales environment are in the realms of the standards of MBA’s and other business qualifications. We all noted at the conference that medical doctors, engineers, pilots and other skilled professionals invest 6-8 years of their own money and effort into attaining their qualifications. It’s about time Selling stepped out from under the shadows of Marketing and MBA’s to be a qualification in its own right and earn a place at the tertiary and professional table.

In conclusion the CSE11 conference signified that many sales leaders, salespeople and procurement professionals are on the same page about where our industry and the markets are heading – insight and collaboration is key to navigating our way in these volatile times. Managing our own wellbeing and resilience by cultivating our neurochemical pathways and rewiring how we think and act. While we have a way to go you cannot deny that it’s exciting moving forward to use the changing market to develop our minds, skills and expertise and apply ourselves and our work to benefit our businesses, our clients and customers and the sales profession.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett, MD of www.barrett.com.au

Are you a Sales Pioneer?

July 21, 2011 in Attitudes & Behaviours, Sales Pioneer, Success

‘Sales Pioneer’ was voted as the Number 7 Sales Trends for 2011. As the business world and selling become increasingly complicated, the Sales Pioneer is emerging to help us all map a pathway to the future.

Unafraid to ask the hard questions, uncover new opportunities and challenge the precepts and ideas of their clients and companies alike, the 21st Century Sales Pioneer is not afraid to stand up and be counted.

The 21st Century Sales Pioneer works in healthy and dynamic collaboration with clients including procurement, internal teams and allied suppliers. Above all these pioneers are educators, teaching clients how to improve their businesses. If you’re thinking about refreshing or realigning your sales team in 2011 consider finding, developing and retaining the Sales Pioneer to give you an edge this year and beyond.

Sales Pioneers are far from being ‘yes’ men or women and aren’t able to be bullied or tyrannised by prevailing views and attitudes. This is precisely what ‘market challenger’ companies will want to recruit in 2011 and beyond. This more articulate, professional and conceptual breed of sales person is definitely not well suited to compliant or transactional sales cultures. They are the first to enter new territories, open up new vistas, challenge our thinking and take us to better places where we can benefit.

Sales Pioneers sell insight. They deliver insight to making better buying decisions in a complex ambiguous world.

Sales Pioneers sell results. They sell results through education, creativity and collaboration and work with clients to deliver tangible results.

Sales Pioneers coordinate multiple stakeholders. They realise the buying decision is increasingly spread across multiple stakeholders all vying for input onto their collective futures.

Sales Pioneers create a planned approach for change. This requires patience, the ability to deal with ambiguity and complexity, excellent listening, questioning and reflecting skills, the ability to work across a range of stakeholders and understand their buying behaviours, commercial acumen and awareness, open mindedness, curiosity, amongst other things as well as courage to take the lead.

How do you manage a Sales Pioneer?

A domineering, command and control leadership approach will not work here. Nor will a weak, uninspiring visionless business keep or attract the Sales Pioneer.

Unlike the 600lb Sales Gorilla or transactional sales people, Sales Pioneers thrive on curiosity, creativity, collaboration, continuous learning and having a clear purpose to anchor their talents to. In short you provide leadership for Sales Pioneers and they will in turn lead you to the future.

Give them a compelling vision, a clear message, and the tools to go and create business for you. Above all give them your trust. Trust them to help you map your pathway forward to the future just as they can do for your clients.

How do you create Sales Pioneers?

Most likely, true Sales Pioneers are born with these enviable talents and probably never quite fitted the transactional sales culture. However, this doesn’t mean less entrepreneurial sales people can’t develop some of the same skills and attributes.

Sales Training is critical. Your people are key to successful business and so, developing their business and commercial acumen is really worthwhile given the more complex business landscape we find ourselves in. In response to this we have developed the Barrett’s Business Acumen for Sales Professionals Program which is designed to show sales people and sales managers how businesses work and what clients are looking for beyond the obvious product pitch. Knowing how your offering works in concert with your clients overall business is what Sales Pioneers are really good at. You can teach knowledge and awareness to people so they better understand clients and work with them as business professionals not just product sales people.

The right sales training and coaching (sales coaching) for your people coupled with the right work environment gives you the recipe for a team of sales pioneers. Make an “open” working environment, encourage curiosity and ideas and don’t shy away from questions being asked. Don’t tell a Sales Pioneer what to think, show them how to think. Demonstrate possibilities, options and choice and show them how to create and achieve results.

Sales Pioneers will fundamentally change your business and your clients’ businesses for the better. How courageous are you to create a Sales Pioneering team and culture?

Remember everybody lives by selling something.
Author: Sue Barrett, MD of www.barrett.com.au

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