by Terry Ledden
Think about your company’s sales approach and ask yourself this question. “Are we focused more on strategy, more on execution or do we just shoot from the hip?”
Cowboy sales organizations take pride in their ability to shoot from the hip. If it is warm, breathing and has a pulse, they chase it. They avoid structure, systems and process. “It impedes our creativity, we need to be flexible, sales process just slows us down”, you’ll hear. Implementing a well designed “selling system” brings more control into the selling environment and with control comes increased exposure and accountability on the part of the sales force to execute against a set of predetermined strategies and behaviours.
You’ll recognize a sales organization that shoots from the hip when:
- Management loses confidence in sales projections and forecasts
- Sales people say they’re too busy to prospect for new business
- Management is unsure they’ve got all of the right people on board to support their strategies
- New hires looked good initially then just didn’t seem to work out
- Margins are eroding because the sales force can’t seem to sell value. Too dependent on price and other concessions to win business.
- Missing plan too frequently. Management is worried it will soon have an impact on the company
Implementing a selling system puts you in better control to drive business growth. According to the Chief Operating Officer of a local Telecom firm, "A well designed selling system has to start with a clear understanding of your value to the market and how that value is differentiated from the competition. From there you can determine your sales approach to get that message in front of the right targeted companies. For us, having the right sales people in the right seats, equipping them to execute our approach, holding them accountable for the solutions sales behaviour necessary for success and rewarding them has really paid off. Our results prove it."
Rob, VP of a national office systems and document management company has this advice. “Don’t be fooled into thinking you’re going to implement a selling system in your company by running the sales force through a fast paced two or three day seminar on selling solutions. We send our reps across the country to ongoing sales training a couple of hours a week. For us, development is ongoing. It takes consistency and commitment. After a full year of outside sales training every week along with changes we’ve made to who we hire and how we manage, we’ve driven sales productivity up by 53%, says Rob”
A well defined selling system starts with a clear understanding of your sales approach to market. For example, is there significant competitive advantage inherent in the core offering providing the basis for a highly product driven approach? Or, must differentiation be established through a value-based and solutions driven approach? Should the company run a volume game based on price advantage?
Here’s where strategy meets execution. The decided approach along with the company’s USP (Unique selling Proposition) defines the type of selling BEHAVIOURS necessary to execute the approach, the type of sales PEOPLE required, the SELLING METHODOLOGY you’ll use to manage the business and how you will recognize and REWARD performance.
The two company examples typify the management leadership and commitment necessary to successfully implement a systematic sales approach to market. Believe me when I say, pros like these guys don’t shoot from the hip.