The frequently used business model of having sales under marketing, and therefore not having a separate sales strategy, is no longer effective in today’s complex market place.
Sales strategies developed by non-sales driven executives tend to be little more than tactical ways to support the marketing drive, brand equity, corporate philosophy and/or the value/volume targets.
Most organisations could have survived like this in a product-focused 20th century world, but not anymore.
Today, selling is much more complex than just getting business (new or incremental)
Sales now has to re-examine its mission. It has to unshackle itself from marketing, define its own purpose and develop unique strategies that support territorial, channel and market segments.
The grand sales gambit has also extended beyond merely increasing share of wallet or spend, to include capturing share of mind, working with and managing buyers, delivering enhanced value, solving buyer issues and much more – all at lower costs.
Regrettably, most organisations view their sales operations as tactical functions of the value chain. And in many ways they are right – that is if these organisations are looking at the sales activities performed by salespeople themselves.
However, to win share of mind and drive better sales outcomes organisations and their sales leaders need to consider the following questions:
- What is the optimal sales structure for the organisation as a whole, for the regions/states, and for the branch operations that ensures sales has an unfettered track to follow; that synthesises the sales effort with the strategic imperatives of the organisation?
- What is the optimal size for a salesforce, and the best way to remunerate, reward and motivate teams? And how does one shape the salesforce to make sure it is able to best serve customers and prospects?
- What directs the efforts of the salespeople on a sustained basis?
- What support, resources, skills and plans provide salespeople with the focus they need to be fully effective?
- What gives the salesforce the discipline and sets the standards of behaviour that differentiates one professional salesperson from another; or that reinforces the brand equity the company has invested in creating?
- And finally, what infrastructure and processes allow salespeople to function at optimal levels without being hamstrung by unnecessary administrative activities, complex management dictates or inadequate information support?
As we have stated before, a strategic salesforce – one driven by a focused sales strategy, rather than a corporate/marketing strategy or territory plan for capturing incremental share of spend– is a highly treasured asset.
It will deliver better sales results for the organisation’s customers and as a result, for the enterprise itself.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.
Sue Barrett is the founder and chief executive of the innovative and forward thinking sales advisory and education firm Barrett, and the online sales education and resource platform www.salesessentials.com.