We’ve previously discussed the valu
e of a salesperson taking on the roles of business consultant and strategist. Here are the numbers that support my perspective.
, a global leader in sales effectiveness training, and a company where I spent a good portion of my career, did a study that provides some very interesting statistics in support of the combined skill sets we’ve been discussing.
The Study’s Results
While the individual organizations’ results were not published for reasons of confidentiality, the overall average results were provided, and they reveal some pretty clear patterns in support of salespeople gaining competence in both consultative and strategic areas.
The study found that:
Salespeople with high consultative and strategic skill sets enjoyed, on average, a 32% higher revenue performance and 43% higher customer satisfaction report when compared to salespeople not possessing these skills.
In one industry, where the product had become a commodity and the organization had a difficult time differentiating itself from the competition, the difference in revenue performance was as high as 67% and customer satisfaction was 46% higher!
The other day I was consulting with a customer —the VP of sales with a division of a Fortune 200 defense contractor—when he asked me to describe the condition of the organization. Short answer – your division is stuck! Then the dialogue began, and we went back and forth in terms of my observations, his observations and what to do next.
Many of our customers are implementing new sales strategies that require internal alignment. Alignment to implement new sales strategy is a critical success factor.
For this defense contractor feeling stuck in the current situation is very understandable given that they face multiple, simultaneous changes. Those changes include:
· their most important customer (US military) will be reducing their spending
· the division has a new President
· there is a new sales management team
· there are many new salespeople
· the organizational structure has changed
· they are implementing a new sales strategy
The VP of sales needs a commitment to move the organization forward while maintaining market share in its existing markets. Achieving strategic alignment is an intense process, one that requires the best thinking of everyone involved. My customer agreed that he needed to hire an outside resource with expertise in strategic alignment that has no alliances inside the business and has the bandwidth to move the process forward rapidly.
Want to know more about how to achieve the alignment needed to implement new sales strategy? Sign up for my e-mail series “How to Create Alignment to Implement a New Sales Strategy” by
Imbed the Five C’s—commitment, connection, competence, confidence and creativity—into
your sales training to ensure your training complements your sales strategy.
I recently spoke with a new customer about the challenges he faced in getting his sales training to translate into improved sales performance. I shared with him the Five C’s since several of my clients have successfully applied them to their sales training.
The Five C’s act as catalysts to your sales training; adding one or more of them to your sales training will change sales behavior and lead to improved sales performance.
Let’s refer to
for the definition of each C:
Commitment: a pledging or promising to a long-term course of action; engagement.
Connection: to create a relationship between two or more people, groups or things. To bring together information from different places in order to understand something as a whole or how different things affect each other.
Salespeople need to be business strategists.
As we’ve discussed in previous posts,
salespeople are no longer able to succeed based solely on their product knowledge, and persuasiveness.
Instead, then salesperson has become an integral part of their own organization’s strategic team, as well as a vital link to the customer.
Technical Effectiveness skills
, such as thorough product knowledge and a basic understanding of the business, as well as above-average
Interpersonal Effectiveness skills,
like self-management, self-motivation, innovative thinking, and excellent interpersonal skills, are still important to success.
Just not in the same way. These days a salesperson needs to take on a dual role as both business consultant and business strategist, with the technical and personal skills supporting those roles.
I’ve previously discussed the salesperson as business consultant. But today, let’s look deeper into the salesperson’s role as business strategist.
The Salesperson as a Business Strategist
With the completion of your strategic alignment process you have:
Defined the purpose process and payoff
Identified your critical success factors
Established your budget
Set the length of the meeting
Identified topics and speakers
You now have the information needed to decide if you will involve an external resource.
Hiring an External Resource
You would consider hiring an external resource, when anyone of the conditions is true:
you don’t have the time to plan the meeting
your last annual sales meeting was okay but not a big success
this sales meeting is more important than in the past year
last year’s sales were below your expectations
this year’s sales must be above your expectations
The days of simple, feature-based selling are long gone, beyond a distant memory.
Unlike the salesperson of decades ago, salespeople in the 21st century have become an integral part of their own organization’s strategic team, as well as a vital link to the customer. Recognizing at the same time that the Internet is changing the way the customer buys.
In years gone by, it was sufficient for a salesperson to have a workable level of Technical Effectiveness skills, such as thorough product knowledge and a basic understanding of the business. Assuming they could combine a reasonably high-quality product and a far less-competitive marketplace, most salespeople could succeed.
In that sales scenario, a salesperson with above-average Personal Effectiveness skills like self-management, self-motivation, innovative thinking, and excellent interpersonal skills, could expect to excel.
These days though, those basic skills, while still important, are not sufficient for success. These days a salesperson needs to take on a dual role as both business consultant and business strategist.
I’ll go into more detail down the road regarding the business strategist role. For now, let’s focus on the salesperson as a business consultant.
The Salesperson as a Business Consultant
As a business consultant, a salesperson’s focus is on the customer’s advantage. Specifically, creating and being able to demonstrate a positive effect on the customer’s key success metrics.
Earlier this week I met with a successful publisher of a major consumer magazine. She recently joined a new magazine at a new parent company.
This publisher reflected on the myriad changes occurring in the industry, including increased availability of data, customers’ desire to place ads in magazines that distribute both print and digitally, and competition from the big four: Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook.
One example of the impact of the big four is the
, a new application for Android devices, iPads and iPhones that lets consumers explore online magazines and other content with the swipe of a finger.
The publisher wants to improve the effectiveness of her account team through sales training. This is a significant investment, far beyond what’s typical for the industry and the magazine, so naturally the publisher wants to make sure she gets the largest possible return on her investment.
Our conversation covered the many aspects that you would expect from assessment, sales enablement, sales training and, most importantly, ensuring a positive measurable business impact that grows sales profitably.