Sales Force Alignment with Market Strategies

Most companies differentiate between inside and outside sales; domestic and international sales; products and services; equipment and consumables, etc.

But if you are into breaking down processes, approaches, market strategies and positioning, there is more to it than these obvious differentiators.

The first is Need and Want – Do your prospects initially think they need what you have?  Do they initially want what you have?  Be honest.  Let’s make an example of a sales development company like mine.  As you read this, do you need our help?  Do you want our help?  Obviously, if you answered yes to both questions, you would have already called, emailed or completed a inquiry form.  If you answered no to either of those questions, there is resistance.  How much resistance must your salespeople overcome?  How equipped are they to overcome resistance?  The two mistakes companies make here are:

  1. salespeople, experienced overcoming resistance, when their prospects both need and want what they have – these salespeople come on too strong;
  2. salespeople, experienced selling only to prospects that need and want what they have are deployed in markets where there is strong resistance (can you say economy?) and they aren’t comfortable and don’t know how to overcome it.  This leads to frustration, discouragement and failure.

The second is Why versus Why Me?  If your company sells and leases copiers, you are clearly in a ‘why me?’ sales process.  The company will buy copiers, but it’s a question of who will get their business.  The salesperson’s job is to get the prospect to choose you.  If you’re in my business, where sales development is not a line item, and in many companies, not even a planned expense, the challenge is to sell you on why you need our help, as opposed to why you should choose us versus a competitor.  These two sales approaches are very different and the two mistakes that companies make are:

  1. their salespeople use a ‘why me’ when they are in a ‘why?’;
  2. their salespeople use a’why me’ when they could more easily differentiate and create urgency by moving to a ‘why?’.

The third is to or through?   Are you able to sell directly to your customer/client or must you first sell to someone else?  Is it a company that will stock and resell your products, like a distributor, or is it more like an agent who must recommend your service to his clients? Like the two  differentiators above, companies make mistakes here too:

  1. mistakenly believe that the reseller/agent will effectively sell their prospects on the merits of your product/service.  Instead, salespeople should be part sales coach.
  2. don’t understand that selling resellers is different from selling to end users because rather than being sold only on the value of the product/service, it is even more important for them to be sold on how reseller your product/service helps them grow their business, attract new customers/clients, increase their revenue/profit, improve their image, etc.

So now you have three more differentiators to consider.  How well aligned is your sales force with these strategies?