It is a harsh reality – product demand and brand scores are down. Some contributing factors to this decline are; bad experiences with retailers or suppliers, poor responses from intermediaries, mediocre service levels, automated procurement practices, stripped down pricing, and an increased number of competitors with products that are just as good and brand names that are just as well respected.
In the face of this growing complexity and a challenging global economic environment, salespeople face continuing demands to meet higher sales quotas; and this in markets most likely suffering from already squeezed margins, and buyers who are sceptical and reluctant to make an early commitment.
In all of this, it is surprising to find that many organisations have ignored the fact that buying patterns have changed.
Interestingly, the few companies that have taken cognisance of the change and adapted their sales strategies to accommodate them, are making market share and margin gains – well in excess of their rivals in the same sales segments.
Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is often misquoted as being ‘the survival of the fittest’ when in fact it is ‘the survival of the most adaptive’. And that is how we need to be if we want to survive and thrive in these ever changing markets – adaptive.
So, just what should sales teams and businesses do to adapt to these changes?
Here are three areas that can help:
1. Focus on how customers and prospects have changed their buying habits: pay attention to what they are talking about, what they are asking you for, where and how they are buying. They will give you evidence if you really pay attention.
2. Develop a well-informed sales force that goes beyond being product specialists: salespeople need to be worldly and understand how businesses work; they need to become business people who can sell.
3. Use effective metrics to track sales: measures the kind of results and behaviour the organisation expects, look at both input and output measures.
Over the next few weeks we will go into detail on these three topics with our ‘Survival of the Adaptive’ series that will look in more depth at the key things we need to do as sales teams to contend with the changes afoot in our 21st century world and market places.
Remember everybody lives by selling something.