We asked Sales Performance International executives and consultants what kind of changes we can expect to see for the sales profession in the coming new year and compiled their perspectives and opinions in our eBook, “Sales Performance Improvement Trends for 2018 and Beyond”.
Tim Sullivan is SPI’s Corporate Vice President of Business Development and is responsible for strategic alliances.
What major trend do you see in your area of sales or learning performance expertise?
I am seeing a bifurcation of selling into two styles, one of which is commodity cost, price driven, and the other is value differentiated solution selling. This development has had considerable impact on go-to-market strategy and sales organization roles and structure.
What is causing this trend?
We’ve known for years that buyer behavior has changed based on easy access to information about problems and solutions on the internet. For some purchases, buyers want little to no interaction with a salesperson. They want to make their purchase as quickly and easily as possible at the lowest possible price. Other purchases entail more risk and complexity, and the buyer wants to interact with an expert to ensure their purchase achieves the outcome they need. Sales and service organizations are now adapting and reorganizing to this new normal.
What opportunities or threats does the trend pose for businesses and sales organizations?
Companies that can adapt, re-organize and re-skill to align with the new normal of buying can both improve sales efficiency and increase sales effectiveness. Imagine having a low-cost sales team and a strong e-commerce platform to handle transactional sales, and a much higher-skilled team to handle more complex value-based sales. A bifurcated structure also provides a career path from entry-level to enterprise sales and incentive for the rep to stay loyal, develop skills, and compete for the coveted top spots. Conversely, companies that don’t adapt risk overpaying at the low-end and underpaying at the high-end and potentially losing good people to more savvy competitors.
In light of the trend, what advice do you have for business and sales leaders?
Re-examine your customers’ buying preferences and identify patterns for aspects of your products and services. For those offerings that are difficult to differentiate, commoditized and price driven, find the most efficient selling approach — perhaps automated or lower cost insides sales. Then, for those aspects of your solution set that are truly differentiated and provide additional value, invest in sellers that can convey value and provide insight and show how they can tailor your capabilities to meet specific customer requirements. Finally, change your managers’ coaching practices to support those two types of sales and the associated sales activity.
Download our eBook “Sales Performance Improvement Trends for 2018 and Beyond” today!