So runs the old golfing adage, making the point that it doesn’t really matter how skilled or elegant your golf shots are, as long as you get the ball in the hole in fewer strokes than your opponent.
Back in the day the same argument held true for many sales organisations. There’s a story in my own former company of a sales representative who, despite not being close to hit our skilled seller profile, out-performed most of her more skilled colleagues. When we looked at why the answer was simple; each morning she’d drive to the biggest office building she could find, walk into the first office on the ground floor and ask “want any Xerox?” She’d then go to the next office and repeat the question, and so on and so on… Her success was purely and simply down to the fact she made over 100 sales calls a day, many times more than her colleagues.
If only that was still true today. It doesn’t need much, just a limitless supply of prospects and ultra-competitive pricing – not a lot to ask for. The move away from abundance has had enormous consequences across the entire business community and particularly in how customers manage the buying process. Of course sales organisations have had to change as a result and many have struggled with that change. But not all, some have got it absolutely right. Let me give you an example.
Our client is a typical ultra-high tech specialist provider with strongly differentiated products who have grown rapidly but now face a new challenge. Traditionally they have sold their solutions to the people who use them, in their case design engineers. However, today’s environment is more joined up. Their customers have realised the solutions have impact across the whole business and, in response, more, less technical people, like finance and procurement, are involved in the buying process. And our client has recognised they can help customers make fundamental improvements in entire business processes.
That changes the whole sales dynamic. Now the client has the opportunity to sell across the entire customer organisation at all levels, from engineers to supply chain specialists, the environmental team, sales & marketing and the executive board. And to meet this change they have changed their customer interface at every level. Now, by equipping all their customer facing teams with the right analytical tools to understand each differing contact’s needs, and the skills to uncover and develop them, they have created a multi-faceted but customer-centric sales organisation that truly reflects the deep, complex selling relationships that exist today.
Which begs the question; have you?