Examine the strategies below and consider which strategy your sales force is currently following and which one it should be following.
Strategy 1: Get Super-Efficient at Transactions
Gartner estimates that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their purchasing transactions without talking to a human. Therefore, if your business strategy relies on your sales force targeting numerous, small accounts, your sales strategy should drive your sales force to become the most efficient and effective transaction processor it can be. This can be accomplished by improving transaction efficiency. This is typically done online, through a portal, a store, or an inside salesperson. Through this process, your company is valued not for the salesperson’s knowledge, but for how quickly, accurately, and cost-effectively you can provide value.
Strategy 2: Be an Outstanding Buying Processor
Perhaps your company’s growth depends upon winning a steady stream of mid-sized opportunities. These require more than simply an efficient transaction, but are not as involved as larger deals. At this level, your sales team’s success often depends upon your organization’s ability to facilitate the buyer’s selection process. Your team isn’t selling so much as facilitating the client’s buying process by being responsive, cost-effective, and in compliance with the rules and responsibilities the client has laid out. Buyers are evaluating your sales team’s ability to respond accurately, completely, and in compliance with the buyer’s process.
Strategy 3: Solve Organizational-Level Problems
If your business strategy includes a plan for your company to grow by winning large accounts, your sales force will have to own and drive the selling process. At this level of sales, your sales team will need to solve organizational-level problems, not just efficiently process sales transactions or simply facilitate the buying process. Your sales team will be required to solve bigger problems—the kind of systemic, organizational problems that affect the overall output of your customer’s business. If your sales team is going to succeed at taking on problems of that size, they have to be talking to people higher up the food chain, which means your sales strategy needs to include a methodology to help your sales team reach high-level decision makers. Your organization must also be structured to allow for more people to be involved in the sales process. Today, in a typical firm with 100 to 500 employees, an average of seven people are involved in most buying decisions, according to Gartner. Your extended sales team will likely need to include subject matter experts, IT professionals, supply chain managers, enterprise resource planners, operations directors, and so on.
Alignment of Sales Strategy and Business Strategy
You can choose one, maybe two, strategies, but you can’t choose all three. If you try to be everything to everyone, you won’t be enough of anything to anyone. So, what will it be? Choose your strategy. Then execute flawlessly.