I encourage you to re-visit Your Sales Team, Today and Tomorrow and Re-Think Your Sales Approach, Part Two. These two posts were based on a premise that the markets have changed and your customers have changed — can you say the same about your sales efforts? These were written pre-pandemic. You could certainly identify many more variables in your selling strategies as we work to emerge from the pandemic. The challenge for many CEOs and sales leaders today is sorting through the legacy thinking and strategies that may have been effective at some point, but may have reached their expiration date.
By the way, this is not only a sales issue. Legacy thinking carries over to workflow, productivity expectations and human resource strategies as well.
Learn From The Past
For years, there have been many expectations placed on the outside sales rep. They were asked to network, prospect, open doors, develop trust and relationships, get the prospects to say yes, and nurture and grow the account base. Get them to like you and they’ll find a way to buy from you were words of wisdom often passed down from sales managers. And you know, it worked!
The big question now is, how does all of that work today? What parts are still effective and where should you re-tool? Conduct an audit of you current strategy and objectively assess the areas that remain relevant, and those that are not. The question to be answered is do you have a sales process that is aligned with how your customers want to buy? Most likely you’ll find that the strategy needs to be redefined for today’s environment. Learn from and leverage the elements that remain relevant and include them into your new strategy. The challenge for many going forward will be in their ability to abandon past practices that are no longer aligned.
One Size Doesn’t Fit All
In your new sales strategy, not everyone needs to be a rock-star door opener. You have existing customers that need the care and attention commensurate with their potential for your company. And in many of these, relationships remain crucial and should be recognized as such.
There are industries outside of the graphic communications world that have sales teams that are built differently. The roles may include marketing and lead generation, inside sales reps, business development reps, outside sales reps, and technical sales and support reps. These verticals have modified their approach to better align with how their customers want to buy. A key point here is that there isn’t just one way to do this. You’ll be tasked with identifying the model that is best aligned with your customers and prospects and that you’ll be able to execute.
Change Involves Risk — So Does Not Changing
We’ll return to the initial premise that the markets have changed and your customers have changed. Now, if nothing has changed in your world and business is great, probably no need to do anything. As you look around and see that some of your legacy strategies may have lost their luster, it might be time to adapt.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no just one way of changing your sales approach. And, you may only find the perfect solution to your situation through trial and error. Evaluate all of your actions in light of the risk involved, but also factor the risk of not doing anything.
Keep at it and don’t stop learning.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in Printing Impressions