Moving from Milkman to Hunter – Evolving Your Outside Account Executives
How do your outside sales representatives work?
Are they spending all of their active selling time in front of potential new customers?
Are they relentlessly chasing down new prospects, constantly expanding your portfolio of customers and profitably growing your business?
Do they have a set book of business and are proud of the territory that they manage?
They would like to pursue new customers. They really would. BUT their current customers just would not buy if they were not calling on them on a regular basis. Their days are full and they cannot possibly take on more business. If they lose a customer, they will go out and look for a new one.
Do You Want to Grow? What is your Scenario?
If the answer is “Scenario B” and you want to grow, then you have to move towards something closer to “Scenario A”.
Too many companies are running traditional sales models with sales people managing a territory through a regular, recurring schedule of calls on existing customers. This is easy. It is comfortable. It is a lot like a milkman managing their route back in the day. A nice living for a sales person but does it help you grow? Not likely and increasingly this is not the fashion in which your customers want to be serviced. (For more background and information on this, please see this article sharing trends and data.)
A change that helps to fuel growth does not have to mean a revolutionary restructuring of your sales team and your sales approach. It is possible to do it in a much more evolutionary fashion.
An example is to begin layering in an element of inside sales. Employing some analysis, it is possible to identify the “long tail” of customers within an outside representative’s portfolio – small customers, unprofitable customers, customers who only do spot or limited buys. These are extremely low risk and easy with which to experiment. The reality is that your sales representatives are likely not spending any time with them and these are customers working their way out of your business.
Perhaps you might want to try marrying up an inside sales representative with an outside representative in a version of team selling (or hunter/farmer). The team works out the customers that the inside representative manages along with the frequency of interactions for key customers for both team members. This can give customers a much higher level of service along with freeing up time and capacity for the outside representative to focus on new business development whether it is the pursuit of new customers or selling deeper and more profitably into high potential customers.
Have you ever interviewed a sales representative who claims that their current portfolio of customers will follow them if you hire them? Does this ever happen? In my experience, seldomly. Customers are tied into the business that supports them; a change of sales coverage often does result in a change of support from the customer.
Most customers have now been supported by sales representatives working via phone, videoconference or email. Has there ever been a better time to take a risk and try some new ideas?
There is a myriad of potential approaches.
We can help you evaluate your current coverage and would be pleased to work with you to develop potential scenarios!
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