The best sales organizations know that today’s buyer is more sophisticated, informed and demanding a whole different set of sales capability from their potential vendor partners. This is true across many, many industries.
The key selling capability required to respond to this buyer evolution is expertise. The very best sellers are taking advantage of their expertise to offer customers valuable insight and new perspective that influences customer thinking. I am not talking about the traditional product or service expertise. That isn’t good enough. I am talking about sellers that are informed and invested enough to become experts on the customer’s business. They are positioned to offer the customer a more compelling value proposition.
The best sales organizations we’ve spent time with in 2012 are leveraging this transformation as an opportunity to outmaneuver the competition and effectively position for a big 2013.
How can you do the same?
Here are three year end keys for getting the sales organization ready to compete in 2013:
Skill Up. This is the time of year when good sales leaders conduct a capability audit. Who crushed quota? Who came up short? Why? What is missing? Smart leaders know skill and competency gaps need to be corrected and closed. Going to market in 2013 with less than optimal capability to compete in any territory simply isn’t an option. Good sales leaders hold producers accountable to performance requirements.
Model Best Practices. Reverse-engineering the work of those who did the best in 2012 can offer valuable perspective on preparing for future success. What were the key inflection points in winning the new deal? Where did the seller spend the most time? What did the seller do differently to demonstrate value, create buyer sense of urgency and separate from the competition? Every seller in the organization should have exposure to the set of circumstances that created the environment for sales success. Conversely, if you are coming up short you need to figure out why. (Tip: It isn’t because your price is too high).
Leverage Customer Insights. Partnering with key customers to advance sales intelligence on challenges, needs, problems, opportunities and 2013 priorities is simply smart business. In the absence of a customer user conference or client advisory board the sales organization should be working hard to consider the evolving customer perspective and its impact on 2013 strategy. The best sales strategy is developed in partnership with the customer and every seller should have expert understanding into the reasons behind why customers buy.
You have an exciting opportunity in 2013 to shift seller competency toward a focus on category expertise, consultative selling skills and the customer outcome.
I’ll be closing out 2012 and kicking off 2013 with sales organizations eager to capitalize on the opportunity being shaped by this evolving set of customer expectations. We will focus on this opportunity more specifically in 2013 so stay tuned for our new Sales Leader programming.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.