Have you ever lined up for a train ticket in rural India? It was as painful to watch as Rowan Atkinson packaging up that illicit Christmas gift in Love Actually… watching and waiting for that train ticket to actually make it into my hand reminded me that Australia can ill afford poor sales processes.

You, like me, have probably seen and heard of many cases of sales people doing the numbers. Doing the numbers is really no more than rubber stamping in the ticket office at Udaipur. Dr Peter Finkelstein, a Director of Barrett sales effectiveness advisors, says: “Trends in sales management show that as costs are directed out of sales, the new focus will be on outputs, rather than inputs.”

As the economy continues to flatline, a premium is placed on effective sales strategies. Finkelstein goes further in his sales forecasting:

  • Procurement must start assuming responsibility for the creation and delivery of real value, beyond price and general supply.
  • Selling is going to require an understanding of ourselves in the Asian century; our economic future will be built on Asian customers.
  • The age of the enlightened sales person has finally arrived. They understand that nothing is predictable and working with ambiguity is the only certainty. Telesales will change dramatically in order to offer solutions.
  • Greater emphasis on training the sales force will come from sales excellence management.
  • Sales training methodologies are moving online.
  • Normalisation of social media in sales is about a shift to engagement, entertainment and delivering value.

Sadly, outstanding sales people are a rarity. It may be related to cultural norms, lack of training, lack of process, or simply comfort in the status quo. How would you rate your sales teams… or account managers, consultants, business development managers, sales coordinators or whatever euphemism you use for this critical heart of any business?

Personally I think he is right on the money, particularly on the point about procurement. It is high time those in charge of procurement were held accountable for bringing real value to their organisations, instead of adopting an attitude of ‘these guys are the lowest price, so they will do!’ How often has your company suffered with the quality of supply, when decisions have been made purely on price?

What’s your Point of View?

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