As complex as your selling organization is, understanding and navigating a buying organization becomes exponentially harder.
This is the quintessential role of any sales manager. Selling organizations are repeatedly asked to deliver more products or services to fill more specific needs. They ask sales professionals to assess and determine the need of the buyer and their willingness to buy. Too often, they are in a setting they are often unfamiliar with, and yet must completely understand to navigate the turbulent environment. Today's sales professional must become extremely familiar with the client's organization. They must understand their goals, their problems, and their needs to prove their value in the value chain.
Because no two companies are alike, sales organizations face many different challenges in supporting the value chain.
In a very stable environment, day-to-day supervision and routine management activities comprise the bulk of the sales manager’s job. In today’s environment, this is the exception, and sales managers must be leaders capable of stimulating and directing significant changes to keep up with the strategic reformation in the firm.
As a result, many organizations rely on larger spans of control and more self-managed teams. This effect requires sales managers to be leaders and instill a vision that rallies the sales team to the new strategic direction set within the business unit and the company. These leaders are also expected to develop the skills, abilities, and knowledge of their sales teams and translating high-level marketing strategy into tactical execution.
Salespeople also need focus due to internationalization. Internationalization is the customization of a selling organization’s product/service to the various specific needs of the buying organization in another geography or country located in a different part of the world. The internationalization of selling behavior may include the use of a specific language in the documentation of the product/service, the voltage/amperage, or colors used. The use of internationalization would not be to conform to standards or regulations. It would more of a function of acceptability, usability, or style.
These challenges, in turn, are driving the need for finding the best sales talent with the proper motivation matching the strategic direction of the firm. Salespeople also need to focus on understanding the buyer. In understanding how buyers buy and mapping a corresponding sales-phase to them, selling organizations will gain more knowledge of buying behavior and their goals and metrics for success.
The value of long-term relationships is becoming more critical to the selling organization.
As a result, the need to build trust is predicated on the level of knowledge of the customer’s problems, goals, and objectives. Salespeople also need focus to ensure they maintain professionalism and achieve the goals hired to achieve. Consultative selling requires an unusual blend of a profession and a service industry. This blend is one in which sales professionals must deliver an intangible product of knowledge, skills, and training for the solution of complex problems in the form of a service. Decision-makers buy these services primarily based on the belief that the engineer understands their own needs. This belief changes the role of a salesperson from that of selling to that of understanding. Salespeople also need focus to ensure they don't get caught up in the "noise" of their organization.
As more and more organizations realign or reorganize themselves to achieve higher win rates, they often look toward better people and systems to gain a competitive advantage. As employers hire more diverse workers than in the past, the ability to work together in this evolving work environment requires more training and understanding by the existing workers.
The technical sophistication of the products sold has also been increasing -- which makes it harder to differentiate. As a result, sales professionals must undertake more product training as well as become more technically savvy to improve win rates. Consequently, sales professionals must not only learn how to think differently, but they must also learn how to teach and educate their customers in a different way to win deals. Why? Because of the prior commodity selling environment that has existed.
To also improve win rates, many organizations have segmented their sales channels to create different levels of service that respond to customer needs. The increasing adoption of key-account sales programs, and the allied focus on team selling to multi-location accounts, makes coordinating the efforts of different salespeople calling on the same account, an essential challenge for sales managers.
As a result of this sophistication, more emphasis is placed on group collaboration in the work environment to win. Product advancements have also created more complexity in the buying process. This sophistication has led to the quest for better sales talent by firms to enhance the sales and marketing component of the value chain, as well as the competency of the firm to attain the corporate strategy along the industry life cycle.
It is against this backdrop that the principle of Focus emerges. Focus is required to accelerate win rates.
Because salespeople operate at the intersection of organizations as well as within the broader context of the business world, there are ever-increasing demands placed on the salesperson. The demands, conflicts, competition, and rapid explosion of information must be over-come by a singular focus of doing what is right. To achieve this focus, salespeople must have a solid plan and execute it with passion, fervor, and discipline to win. Here are the shifts they need to navigate to be successful.
Shift from Individuals To Teams Because buyers today want their complex issues resolved, many sales professionals are aligned in teams. These teaming environments allow for specialization, depth of knowledge, and superior customer service. This shift from lone sales professional to teaming partner has required a significant overhaul in sales thought and practice. This overhaul requires new training strategies, new tactical approaches to aligning the team, and a need for increased credibility. Customers demand a large amount of expertise, knowledge, and customization. All of these challenges are compounded in the selling environment as organizations strive to focus on customer wants and needs in developing custom solutions. All sales professionals contribute their time, effort, knowledge, and experience in the quest to capture market share. Companies involved in revolutionary strategy must engage their sales professionals while arming them with the knowledge to succeed. Often, this knowledge comes in the form of the team selling environment, where individuals possess specific knowledge of the customer’s solution. This knowledge must then be aggregated to deliver the solution, so the customer sees the value and a perceived return on investment.
Shift From Transactions To Relationships Historically, the role of the sales manager has been to focus on short-term numbers (monthly or quarterly) and results. Because of this environment, sales managers force many sales professionals into a commodity selling situation or environment that is more transactional or commoditized. However, in today’s competitive landscape, sales professionals must become focused on relationships they build on mutually agreed upon goals and objectives (win-win). This relationship would also take into account the client’s best interest to build trust and rapport while providing a relevant solution to the business issues at hand. Organizations engaged in revolutionary strategy development ensure the sales professionals and marketing components of the value chain understand the product or services being developed. Furthermore, they will know how to sell them in this environment.
Shift From Sales Volume To Sales Productivity Traditionally, sales organizations have focused on the volume of activity. As such, meeting or exceeding sales quotas define the reward and compensation of the sales professional. More firms are examining the profitability of specific sales and of serving individual customers (Bauer, 1998). Overall productivity can measure how profitable a relationship is, or what types of activities are being conducted (as opposed to sheer volume). These productivity measures are increasingly surfacing as organizations attempt to shift or replace direct selling with lower-cost sales channels. These sales channels include telemarketing, direct mail, or email marketing that produce little or no success.
About Growth Matters Growth Matters is an international business founded in 2011. This consulting and services organization focusses on the development and practice of sales management and sales enablement. Our team of world-renowned experts spans the globe enabling businesses to improve sales conversations through services and solutions aligned to sales strategy. Charlotte, NC (USA) is the headquarter of our Americas operation. With dedicated offices in South Africa (EMEA), and Sydney (APAC), we regularly facilitate senior-level workshops in 17+ cities and countries. For more information on equipping sales managers, and aligning to sales leadership, contact the Growth Matters team at http://www.growthmatters.today
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