value creation

How to Build A Value Creating Sales Force

If you want to stand out in a sea of sameness, you must build a value creating sales force.

The other day I was thumbing through an old copy of Rethinking the Sales Force by John DeVincentis and Neil Rackham, recalling how far ahead of the market those two authors were when they challenged the traditional notions of value and competitive differentiation.  That book was written in 1999, and it took roughly a decade for many B2B sales organizations to start adapting to the reality that Rackham and DeVincentis illustrated in their book.

A great deal has changed for B2B sales organizations since 1999, but one thing has not changed. Sales forces must continue to adapt to the changing demands and behavior of buyers. You cannot achieve competitive differentiation simply by communicating the features and advantages of the products and services that you sell. You must understand how to create value for customers and know that it has everything to do with how you sell versus what you sell. (Follow the link here to see my post and video on LinkedIn regarding the new drivers of value.)

The big challenge now is how to build a value creating sales force that can continually adapt to the constant and rapid changes going on in the marketplace around us. It may be the biggest opportunity that you and your sales organization have out in front of you for the foreseeable future.  I recently recorded a video addressing that specific opportunity and some of the insights that my team and I have gained over the last six years while working with B2B sales forces to build value creating sales forces. That video appears below, so please take two minutes to watch it. Let me know if what I have to say resonates with you. You can do so by offering a comment in reply to this post, or you can contact me directly at matt@usr-llc.com.

Where Can You Create Value?

Great sales forces know where they can create value for customers and where they cannot. They understand that in order to invest their time appropriately, they have to separate the bad bets from the good ones, the customers who don’t value their effort from those who do.

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Economic "Ground Hog Day": What This Week's News Means for Business Owners and Leaders

The headline on the April 12th edition of the Wall Street Journal read, “Economic Reports Fan Fears.”  Roughly ten days later, another cover story celebrated the fact that American manufacturers had seen an uptick in both demand and production within the last month or two.  Good news… bad news… good news… bad news.  I feel like I’ve been here before.

As a small business owner, I empathize with the thousands of other business owners and leaders who read the business news of late and have no earthly idea what to make of it.  Sure, one can interpret that the news of an improvement in demand in the manufacturing sector is a very good thing, particularly if one has solutions to sell to that important segment of the U.S. economy.  But what if you don’t?  Should you assume that other industries will follow suit soon because that is historically what happens when early indicators look positive?  Is it time to invest in inventory or to hire new salespeople in anticipation of a full-blown economic recovery?

Who knows?

…And it is that ongoing uncertainty that prevents a great number of small to medium businesses from taking risks or making bold moves to grow their businesses.  Is their opportunity to be had?  Heck yes, there is.  Is it easy to capture that new opportunity?  No, and even the best day or month or year of economic news is not going to change that.  That is because the relationship between buyer and seller has changed yet again, and only the most buyer-focused companies will win more than their fare share of business and grow in this new environment.  I am certain of that.

There is one bit of really good news for this particular small business owner in all of this uncertainty, though.  The value of professional salesmanship and the ability of a salesperson to create value for his or her customers continues to go up.  If their were such a thing as a futures market for professional salespeople, the marker on the big board next to that important asset would be a big, green arrow pointing upward.

With all of this ongoing uncertainty around us, the time is now to ask yourself, “Do we really have the sales capability to win, regardless of what happens with the economy?”  Other important questions you may want to consider follow:

  • How do we know if we have the capability to win or not?
  • If we don’t have sufficient capability right now, what kinds of opportunities are we missing?
  • What would it mean to us if we ratcheted up our capability somehow?  How would that improve our situation right now?  Might that put us in a better position to capitalize on the opportunities that exist today, as well as those in the future?

Forward-thinking leaders are asking these same questions.  I know because I’ve been in the room with some of them while these questions are being asked.  (Full disclosure — Sometimes, I am the one asking those questions.)

The difference, however, between forward-thinking leaders and the ones that actually lead their companies to win the future is actionWhat are you doing now to ensure that you have the kind of professional sales representation that will help to preserve and grow your business?

At the risk of being too forward, I will submit that there are companies like mine who offer a direct path to winning new business now and that also help plan to win the future.  There are still others who are there to help you recruit, build, train, motivate, and coach your team for the future.  For today, I simply want to encourage you to do something to professionalize and improve your sales team.  The success of your business depends on it…and not on what will be printed in next week’s newspaper.

 

Matt McDarby Featured in 3-Part Series: The Coaching Controversy on Matt Goff's Sales Performance Improvement Blog

On Thursday, April 5th, Matt McDarby contributed a post to a 3-part series entitled, “The Coaching Controversy, Part 2: Is When More Important Than How?”

The post offers five key principles for knowing when to coach salespeople.  Those five principles follow:

  • There is a time to sell and a time to coach.  It is not possible to do both at the same time effectively.
  • Who we are coaching affects when we coach.  We need to invest more or less time coaching individual salespeople because of who they are, their learning style, their workload, and a range of other factors. One size does not fit all.
  • Different types of coaching require different amounts of time and preparation.  Choose them wisely and don’t short-change the types of coaching that require a significant investment of time.
  • Coach early and coach often.  Our window for influencing the actions of salespeople closes earlier in the selling cycle than we might realize.
  • We should coach when the risk of not coaching is too great.  When future outcomes are at stake, the risk of missing an opportunity to coach is massive.

Matt appears periodically as a guest blogger or content provider on the topics of professional selling, sales leadership, value creation, and major account selling.  All inquiries related to Matt’s blog or his guest posts can be made to directly to him by email at matt@usr-llc.com.  Thank you.