The current economic slowdown coupled with accelerating competition calls for organizations to augment and sustain best-in-class sales capabilities if they want to come out on the winning side. Adding to this pressure is the rapidly changing environment where a hybrid model for selling is emerging as a preferred choice of customers forcing the organizations to adapt fast.

However, are the organizations up to the task? How can you win more orders profitably? Do you have a clear understanding of what the customers really value? How can you increase customer’s ‘willingness-to-pay’? How does your whole organization create amazing buying experiences? Can everyone see and act on a single view of the customer? To address these questions, it is critical to relook at your current sales strategy and approach.

The sales strategy needs to follow the direction of the overall company strategy, with the team’s clear understanding and commitment to the same. We highlight here some of the themes where we are working with organizations to help their leaders overcome inherent challenges and guide their company towards achieving sales excellence:

  • Customer targeting – Who is your customer? Defining this clearly, in our view, is the most important strategic variable for success. Segmentation by most companies is done mainly at the first level and is not granular enough to really be meaningful. Selection of the right customers to target is the key to profitable growth and it is therefore imperative to qualify them against a set of relevant criteria.
  • Sales force sizing – In our experience this is another neglected area with sales coverage based more on gut feeling rather than a through market analysis. Investments are more skewed towards back-end areas over front-line not realizing that inadequate sizing coupled with a misaligned sales organization structure makes the selling effort ineffective for achieving the growth the organization is preparing for.
  • Customer retention & acquisition – The current customers are the organization’s foundation. However, little effort goes into a detailed analysis of customers lost every year and creating a specific plan to retain them. Acquiring new customers at a steady flow is also imperative for growth. This can only be possible if the enquiry generation mechanism is robust supported by a systematic analysis.
  • Sales model & approach – How the salesperson interacts with the customers determines his chances of success. The entire model from visit planning to customer interface at different stages of the customer decision journey calls for a nuanced understanding of the specific needs at each interaction and creating a unique buying experience. Customer preferences differ across different customers, even within the same segment. Your product is just one part of the whole innovative solution you can offer.
  • Training and Reviews – Do the existing salespeople have the skills and capabilities to adapt their selling process to the changing needs? Other than generalized trainings, little thought is given on how to augment the model with tools and consultative selling. Also, the reviews need to be more focused and in-depth to be able to unearth the real reasons for gaps.

In addition, the hybrid model of both face to face and online selling is here to stay. Many organizations are yet to acknowledge this fact and risk being left behind as time progresses. Creating an integrated model for selling is a big challenge requiring careful planning and resource allocation. The upside of this model includes aspects like faster interactions, increased coverage with same resources, possibility of bringing the “A-team” to every call etc. It is an opportunity which can be speedily tapped by embarking on customer facing digital transformation1 initiatives.

Amidst these complexities, how the leaders chart their way ahead is crucial to their future growth. The key questions for strategic inquiry therefore are:

  1. 1. Is your organization and sales team customer-obsessed? How can you create a zero friction customer experience?
  2. 2. How effectively do you retain & grow existing customers? What is your new customer acquisition strategy?
  3. 3. How can you leverage the digital model and technologies in sales to gain a competitive advantage? How should you create an efficient integrated model?
  4. 4. How can you increase the customer’s “willingness-to-pay”? Can you design an effective system to deliver the full power of your organization to solve customer problems?

Your organization needs a robust mechanism for sensing and responding to changing customer needs so that you’re constantly evolving at the pace of change of the market. You as leaders need to be the catalyst driving this change. Don’t lose the sales that is yours!

1.Refer our earlier insight “Digital Transformation – A Growth Imperative” for more details