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.
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