Do you have the wrong sales team delivering your sales strategy?

Ask yourself the follow the questions:

  • How has your strategy and /or market place changed recently?
  • How have you seen the role of ‘sales’ change over the last few years in your industry?
  • How do your sales people compare to your competitors?
  • How do your sales people need to sell now?
  • How is your product offering behaving in the market place now? Was it once exclusive and now a commodity?

The definition of a ‘good’ salesperson is driven by many possible needs. Those needs are a function of industry standards, changing market conditions, competition, corporate strategy and culture, personalities, past experiences, just to name a few.

In addition, many organisations overlook the shift in their products or services from being customised and exclusive to a commoditised entity and the impact this has on their sales force and sales efforts.

So it’s not just how your sales people behave that can affect sales, it’s also how your product or service behaves.

Let’s take a look at computers

For many years (in the late 1980s and early 1990s) computers were highly priced, exclusive products sold by highly priced, exclusive sales people. These sales people were specialists, experts or advisors selling into the big end of town because these were the only businesses who could afford computers back then.

However, as:

  • the cost to manufacture these products decreased making them more accessible and cheaper to buy, and
  • customers education, knowledge, awareness and experience with these products and processes increased

The style of the sales people required to sell computers changed.

Now you can go to small or large retail outlets and buy a computer off-the-shelf from retail sales people (most of who are paid much less than their highly priced, exclusive predecessors). Or easier still, you can buy custom built computers online at Dell, thus eliminating the traditional type of computer sales person all together.

Daniel Pink wrote, amongst other things, about the commodisation of products and services in A Whole New Mind and specifically how we need to look at creating value beyond product.

This is why more thought needs to be given to how a business translates its sales strategy into sales action. You need to make sure the current products and style of sales people you have are matched accordingly.

If customer’s product or service education level changes (i.e. they become more sophisticated), and there is change to the product and access (i.e. online), there will be a change in your sales force requirements.

However, some products which can behave as commodities in their own right can become part of a complex sales solution and need sales people who are specialists, experts or advisors.

Let’s look at Business Banking

Business Banking is really an essential service for any business, however the products on offer are often standard and commoditised in their own right.

So what is a business banking customer wanting from a Business Bank?

It depends on the relationship.

Current research indicates that many want ‘ease of doing business’ and ‘value for money’. The research also shows that many customers are not as sophisticated and savvy in knowing the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of Business Banking and therefore many would like to rely upon the expertise, advice and support from their business banker.

However, many Business Banking providers have not developed, trained or supported their Business Bankers to be specialists, experts or advisors. Most customers still go to their accountant for that advice and then use Business Banking products rather than extracting the possible value from their Business Banker.

As with Business Banking, there is often a great opportunity to capitalise on the potential long-term, in-depth customer-supplier relationships even if you have a range of commodity products.

I suspect many opportunities for further profitable sales sit untapped in many businesses because misalignment with strategy, product and sales people fit.

Knowing your market, where your products sits in isolation and in combination, and the types of sales people you need to have to deliver your strategy is critical.

So as you prepare for the next Financial Year you may want to review the sales force you currently have and see if they will stand up and deliver what your business needs in FY 09/10.

I will talk about this next time in “Creating your ‘Ideal’ sales team”.

Sincerely, your advocate for selling the right way.

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