By Tom Fournier
What does the sidewalk in front of my home have in common with a pub in London, England?
Answer: both are places where I recently had enlightening conversations around business to business sales.
This seems a strange place to discuss sales strategies. Perhaps not so strange when you consider that my neighbour has worked in sales in the technology sector for a number of years. She has held senior roles in well known tech companies.
In having a conversation with her, I found that I was thinking about sales on the basis of a false assumption. As I have been updating and formalizing my knowledge base around business to business selling, I had to come to think of selling in the technology world as being part of a very advanced sales model. I had discovered reiterative themes that I have blogged about in the past:
I was told that this was certainly the ideal model that the industry was pursuing but like many other sales organizations they felt trapped in an archaic model of having highly trained and well paid external account managers managing a book of existing business with very little drive or capacity to pursue or close new business opportunities. The question was how to reduce external sales resources in favour of far more internal sales resources so as to achieve business growth.
Even in a competitive industry with highly evolved and progressive sales models, many of the participants are struggling to implement a model that is aligned with the changing needs and desires of their target customers!
Full disclosure, I quite enjoy travels to England and when in England I have seldom come across a pub that I did not like.
On a recent trip I was able to free up some time to connect with a friend. Of course, we met at a pub! Our friendship was struck at international conferences at an employer for whom we both formerly worked. Having enjoyed each other’s company for years, it was fun to get caught up. Being two sales executives who are now each working in the arena of sales consulting it did not take long for our conversation to turn to business to business sales and what we have seen and experienced.
Our conclusion, there is so much work to be done! Even in large, successful companies there is often an unsophisticated, unstructured haphazard approach to sales. It almost seems that their sales model just happened or evolved without a whole lot of strategy supplied.
As a company looks for solutions or means to improve less than ideal business results, they seldom look at their sales function. If they consider sales at all they may try some quick fix, magic elixir solution like a session on prospecting, or maybe something on closing skills or if they are really ambitious then maybe they will look at a sales methodology (sales training). Unfortunately, if there are not solid foundations to their sales strategy and a sales model that is tailored to their situation and industry then it is all wasted time and money.
Sales is hard work. There is no easy or quick fix for what might be ailing your sales strategy or sales process!
Developing or evolving a sales model that is appropriate for today’s buyers and their buying needs is tricky work. Do not grasp at quick fixes without understanding the overall health of your sales strategy and the effectiveness of your sales organization.
Do consider consulting an expert. We have an incredible wealth of experience and are happy to dig in. If you have tried a consultant and were not satisfied with the results, be willing to sample another and then another until you find the one that is the best complement to your business and its needs.
Tom Fournier, founder of the Shade's Mills Group, history enthusiast and happy walker!