Is your sales management still leading by structured procedure? Does it work or are you experiencing business nightmares?
Most of us have set sales as a structured process in order to be more efficient, particularly when managing a wide number of sales reps or to get under control and make
predictable the most unpredictable stage of the business. All of us have set KPI criteria and metrics to foresee ahead and make our forecasts more reliable.
As Zygmunt Bauman hascorrectly pointed out, we are living in a “Liquid Modernity” and it affects many of our habits. We need to shift many process and structured procedures to create a new approach in a changed era.
Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon and Nicholas Toman figured out very well on Harvard
Business Review (Nov. 2013) the real meaning of overpassing the sales process to embrace
flexibility, judgment and focusing on results which are the main skills who works todays in sales.
The idea is that a structured sales process has the effect to leave to salesmen a small room to exercise judgement and take choices, but it leave them to compete on price. Instead, the new environment offers to creative people to imagine new way to challenge customers with disruptive insight into their business. Customer awareness about possible solutions is much deeper than ever before; this is almost a new phenomenon as until recently clients were looking for guidance on the purchasing process. Sales reps were thoroughly informed about available solutions on the market as well as being trained in understanding every customer’s needs. Today’s needs are so “personal” that possible solutions must be created “on site”, so that the new environment tends to favour creative sellers who can challenge clients with disruptive insight about their business.
The solution is developed after full comprehension of what a client has already concluded about its needs, and what the full perceived value of the solutions is. Offering disruptive insights and unexpected solutions requires salespeople to go through a mindset shift, and adhering to “how-to” rules doesn’t work because the most effective approach often varies radically from deal to deal.
Therefore the rules based culture is over.
A company’s culture may support the creative approach when the management focuses on
climate more than structured knowledge, when the company allows people and teams to create and share know-how and when the effort is to support organisational learning. Companies have to develop their structures in a Learning Organisation style, one which supports Human Resources on creating new know-how in a troubled era. High skilled knowledge Workers are the next sales reps who can deal with the changed environment using their self-judgment instead of rules.
And a judgement oriented climate requires organisations to set their norms over different
values and with opposite procedures: managers serve as coaches rather than o p e r a t i o n c o n t r o l , t h e f o c u s i s o n collaboration, rather than on competition and teams are evaluated on long term results rather than quarterly sales goals.
People are more likely to succeed when they are supported rather than directed. In terms of skills, the core ones come back at the top rate instead emotional intelligence, although still salient, isn’t enough anymore.