Traditional B2B sales and sales management is under turmoil
Customer relationship management requires multichannel marketing & sales and this is called fast-track sales. In fast-track sales the processes, reaction speed and pricing has a big effect on the results. However, the studies show that profitable growth follows when the sales organisation is capable of selling added value and this is called high-value sales.
Below I will be addressing highvalue sales and to the changes therein, so that the profitables growth is possible.
According to the studies – Sales Excellence Study by St.Gallen University, Challenger Sales Study by CEB and Challenger Customer Study by CEB – and our own over 20-yr experience in the field management of sales consulting the future winners are those companies which master the customer relationships.
According to research the best performing companies are the ones which work in organized and disciplined way and develop constantly their know-how of sales processes’ different phases. Research shows that it is impossible to improve the sales organization’s performance unless the sales management does not first renew its working methods.
You must also be able to ask if the reason behind missing sales targets is due to sales management’s poor capabilities. Only 25% of sales personnel reach their targets and 12% of sales personnel account for more than 50% of company’s total sales.
According to these three studies the best performing companies are those who have a clear sales strategy. This could sound self-evident, but yet surprisingly few Finnish companies have sales written/described sales strategies. Even fewer sales organization is able to explain what sales strategy means in concrete actions. Finnish companies master goal- and performance management even extremely well. But if the leadership stays at this level, the portion of those sale persons who reach their targets will decrease further. Sales organization will not perform without goal setting, but goalsetting cannot be the only leadership method when a company is seeking competitive edge from sales.
When the single best sales person is no longer capable of bringing added value to his customer, both the seller and the buyer connect more and more persons to the sales process. For this reason the best companies have desribed their sales processes and set key performance indicators for each step of the process – such a new customer acquisition, expansion of cooperation and launching a new product. It is also important to coach your organization to work according to the described processes. When the sales personnel is involved in describing the sales processes, they usually realize they need to improve their sales skills and methods
Part of the sales management has alienated themselves from the day-to-day sales work. Thus they are unable to build sales processes even when there is huge demand for it. With the help of sales process’s different phases and key performance indicators, the sales management is able to analyze and develop the areas which are needed for reaching the sales targets. Then the effect of single sales star is getting less important as the relationship management is getting more emphasis on the company level. For this reason the development of key account managers capabilities is of focal importance.
There is high demand of capable key account managers. Far too often I hear that these persons can’t be found anywhere. And yes, they can’t be found – and here the management must change their way of thinking. It is best to find a suitable KAM candidate in your own organization and develop them internally, as they already have the industry knowledge required by the customers.
It is evident from a study conducted by M3Group Ltd (member of Global Growth Group), that KAMs do not get the needed support from the sales managemet. To put it bluntly, one could say that if sales management does not take care of its own development, the KAMs can start managing the sales managers. The sales organisations which are capable of insight selling (posing questions, arguments, being consultative) are best performers. Many sales persons have misunderstood the customer situation mapping and customer centricity and look in the mapping situation only facts. It is the sales person’s job to pose questions which make the buyer to think.
Insight seller is not afraid to disagree with the customer – or even to question his opinions and buying habbits. Insight selling does not mean aggressive selling, but honest interest of the solution’s feasibility in each and every customer situation. The companies, whose sellers are able to steer the customer’s thinking rather than pleasing his wishes, do clearly better.
Those sellers who have good product and industry knowledge, do well in insight selling. For this reason it benefits the companies if they can hold on to the capable sales personnel. The sales personnel change jobs most times because of the management. The changing of jobs has increased dramatically over the past years in Finnish organizations. This could be partly due to the fact that the only leadership method has been leading by results, while sales personnel would prefer coaching style of leadership – getting practical guidance for closing the deals.
According to the study, half of the sales personnel who have not reached their targets want to change jobs within next year. The sales management must be able to create successes and breakthroughs in the sales. Only this way the sales personnel will commit to the company and aim for better sales results.
About the Authors:
Jouni Karo, Harri Lappi & Pasi Pyysiäinen are the Finnish representatives of Global Growth Group