Today’s sales conversations present new challenges

New sales challenges

As sales conversations move from transactional to consultative the skill set of the sales team must change. According to Forrester, companies have three options to respond to this shift:

  • develop or expand the existing skill set of the current sales reps
  • work with the sales leadership team and HR team to hire sales reps who have the skills and connections to have the conversations required to be successful
  • a combination of the above

Being successful today is more difficult then 10 years ago. Product portfolios are larger and more sophisticated creating more complexity that sales reps need to navigate. Sales reps must clearly develop the behaviors required to communicate value in a world where more and more buyers are demanding business outcomes, not just technical solutions. Today sales people need to improve their reach and their footprint within existing accounts at higher levels of decision-making power within more complex buying processes. Unfortunately, many sales people today are finding these conversations increasingly difficult.

What do we need to do to help sales reps raise their game? First, it’s important to recognize that the set of skills required to be successful acquiring new business isn’t necessarily the same skill set required to up-sell and cross-sell business to existing accounts. Second, the skills required to coordinate resources internally and to cut across business units to communicate value across the portfolio to specific buyer problems is more comprehensive than in the past. Today, it’s not only what you sell, it’s how you sell it, and sales reps need the right skills to achieve repeatable success.

Forrester argues that sales reps need help. Even if sales people improve their skill set dramatically and are able to gain access and have successful meetings with the right people at the right level, they will still need help from marketing, manufacturing, and technical support to equip them with the right messages.

Check out other posts on sales effectiveness at the Sales Training Connection. 

©2011 Sales Horizons,™ LLC

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About Janet Spirer

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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