The Evolution of Sales Process

Change is happening in the emerging Sales Enablement space. What’s going on?

For the past 3-4 years, companies across many different industries have struggled to cope with the harsh reality that the business environment has completely changed at both macro- and micro-levels.

  • Macro-level: The economy has reset itself. Since 2005, world economic markets have struggled. As a result, companies have had to drive productivity, enter new markets, create innovations, while cutting costs at the same time. This sustained do-more-with-less reality is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

  • Micro-level: The world of work has changed. As a result of the sustained do-more-with-less reality that exists, the way work gets done has changed. There are many trends and buzz-words that support this, for example, “big data,” “collaboration,” and “social." However, the reality is, there is an inflection point between the industrial revolution and the information age, creating the need for higher knowledge-worker productivity and more outputs than ever before.

So, what's the Challenge?

CEOs increasingly recognize that their growth comes from creating new products, rethinking their go-to-market strategy, or driving efficiencies across processes and workflows (an “inside-out” view of the world). But they also recognize growth comes from the system that aligns to their customer’s buying and problem-solving processes (a distinctly different “outside-in” view of the world).

Companies like Accenture have recognized the inefficiencies that exist in working in silos. They have pivoted to a more horizontal view of the work they do to communicate more effectively, deliver, and create value for their customers. That horizontal view of adding more value uses customers and buyers as the design point – not products and services.

The Implication?

Going to market in a way that uses products and services as the organizing “design point” for adding value to clients is shifting to use customer problems as that design point. This shift is massive – it couldn’t be any more different. Buyers know it, and they recognize it (so it’s both different and differentiating in the market place).

Think about it.

Technology companies (Microsoft, Symantec, Informatica) are beginning to detect that buyers' problems often cut across product and service portfolios. This recognition requires a more configured and coordinated engagement, delivery, and measurement approach to the executives and leaders to whom they sell. They recognize that to grow, product, marketing, and sales teams have to all focus and drive value to those buyers in more relevant ways that cut across the silos that often exist. Not only does that need to happen in these revenue-generating functions, but it needs to happen in all other customer-facing functions as well.

For example, delivery, and operations teams that support or deliver on “what gets sold” must also work differently. This new reality creates a significant strain inside of companies because they aren’t tooled, organized, or staffed to add value to their customer’s in this way.

Here’s what Steve Bennett, the new CEO of Symantec says about this challenge:

On our go-to-market strategy what I would say simply, we had talented people everywhere in the world really working hard but that our system doesn't work, or probably better said — we don't have a system. Our process, our technology, the tools we have, our knowledge management — our salesforce is not empowered and freed up to sell.” Steve Bennett, Symantec President and CEO – January 23, 2013, Q3 Earnings and Strategy Direction Conference Call, Source: morningstar

Rising to the challenge

Many sales leaders feel this challenge every day. Complexity and change inside their company, coupled with complexity and change in their client companies, creates inefficiencies at the point of sale. Overcoming these inefficiencies requires cross-functional leadership and teams, as well as a unified focus on driving sales objectives.

To facilitate the cross-functional work required, leaders should begin to act:

  1. Charter a cross-functional team to streamline the horizontal business processes behind sales conversations.

  2. Help that team create standards and a definition of sales enablement to coordinate a common approach across the enterprise.

  3. Take a holistic approach to scope and launch initiatives that align content, skills, and tools that salespeople need to be successful.

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

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