I have been spending time with clients working on changing their sales models.

Most business owners lose sleep over how their sales numbers will look this month, next month, next quarter. I take my hat off to those who are prepared to upset the status quo and give some serious thought to changing their sales model. It starts with having a commitment to asking yourself challenging questions every month. Are we built right? Is my competition beating us as the market rises? Are they beating us as the market is falling? Someone is wining that race, how can it be me?

I think another good question to ask is: how do I go to market? That is, what is my sales model and is it the right one for this current circumstance?
One client knew their outside sales force was not performing to market standards. They asked themselves, ‘where it should be, and how can I revitalise an experienced sales team who really are the product experts? I don’t want to lose that skill set’. I think there are times when the answer is actually pretty simple: hire new and young people with different skills and who do not know anything about the product. There are a couple of reasons: you should not be selling products anyway, sell solutions. And if you don’t know how to uncover the problem among your targets, you won’t know how to advocate your solution. Those are 2 skills that were noticeably absent among the experienced product experts. We built an inside sales team who managed to outsell that outside team for a ‘technical product’ within 5 months. That is, by changing the approach to the market, remodelling their sales approach, they were able to improve their revenue line dramatically.

I have another client who as a function of their ownership structure is faced with a new challenge: their targets are consolidating across borders. How can we address that market when it is not the same any more? The answer is to look at the sales model. We are creating a new marketing approach, a new technical capability to address the new needs of a consolidated market, and a new internal resource to speed up cooperation from the inside. These are the support structures that will allow a new sales approach. That approach will be to advocate less and uncover issues more.

My last example is another classic case where the sales model is for a business in an industry that has been using the same sales model for years…and does not know how to break through to another one. We are breaking the mold by dividing ‘sales’ into its 2 components: new business development and account management.

More on that one soon!