Monthly Archives: June 2019

Challenges We Face Study – Getting Everyone in the Company to Support the Customer Experience

Challenges We Face Study – Challenge #5 – Getting Everyone  in the Company to Support the Customer Experience
Earlier this year, Mark Mitchell, who co-authored our book RAINMAKER, and I conducted a study to learn what Building Materials Sales Forces are being challenged with this year. 146 organizations participated. For the next few blogs, I will provide insight on what we learned. I will share what you said were the top 5 challenges you face, with a brief commentary on each.
Challenge #5 – Getting Everyone in the Company to Support the Customer Experience
While leaders found this to be the 5th most important challenge they face, salespeople ranked it number one.
Today, everyone sells. Everyone in the company is responsible for Customer Experience. I can understand why salespeople felt that this was the #1 challenge. Many salespeople we talk to say they spend a significant portion of their time doing a lot of behind-the-scenes work to ensure customer commitment are made. That takes away time from pursuing new opportunities.
Let’s face it, if you are an operations-oriented company and are not customer-centric, you simply will not survive long-term. The best companies are truly customer-centric. They listen intently to the customer and shape their practices based on anticipating what customer requirements will be. They measure the Voice of the Customer and the Voice of the Employee to establish alignment and focus.
What are you doing to create a Customer Experience Culture company-wide? THINK ABOUT IT.
This is the end of the blog series on Challenges being faced today. Sometimes they feel daunting, and some are. Experience shows that those companies who accept the challenge, and tackle these relentlessly, one item at a time, will make progress and ultimately create lift for their organizations.
Happy Selling!

 

Challenges We Face Study – Developing High-Quality Sales Leaders

Challenges We Face Study – Challenge #4 – Developing High-Quality Sales Leaders
Earlier this year, Mark Mitchell, who co-authored our book RAINMAKER, and I conducted a study to learn what Building Materials Sales Forces are being challenged with this year. 146 organizations participated. For the next few blogs, I will provide insight on what we learned. I will share what you said were the top 5 challenges you face, with a brief commentary on each.
Challenge #4 – Developing High-Quality Sales Leaders
In our last few blogs, we covered the first three challenges. I will now cover the 4th biggest challenge: Developing High-Quality Sales Leaders.
This one is dear to me and our work with clients, as it is here where big impact can be made. I am not taking away from the first three, and frankly, the ratings were very close to each other. In our experience, Sales Leaders are where the rubber meets the road. It is here where there are significant opportunities for improvement by Building Materials companies.
Most sales managers were promoted into their positions because they were good salespeople. And while that does work sometimes, many become glorified salespeople with a title. Often the company has lost a good salesperson and for the first several years, has gained a middle-of-the-road sales manager. Sales Leadership is hard and we have found that most building materials companies have simply not invested the effort to define excellence in this important role. They hope and pray that the sales manager works out, but our observation is that it is a mish-mash of practices.
The Sales Manager of the future wears five hats: Leader, Business Manager, Coach, Recruiter, Trainer – and developing skills mastery here will create lift for your company. This is a lifetime rigorous journey that Senior Leadership must invest in. It does not happen overnight nor is it easy. But if you want to truly impact sales performance, this is where you must focus.
THINK ABOUT IT.

 

Challenges We Face Study – Recruiting Quality People (Salespeople, Support, and Other Areas)

Challenges We Face Study – Challenge #3 – Recruiting Quality People (Salespeople, Support, and Other Areas)
Earlier this year, Mark Mitchell, who co-authored our book RAINMAKER, and I conducted a study to learn what Building Materials Sales Forces are being challenged with this year. 146 organizations participated. For the next few blogs, I will provide insight on what we learned. I will share what you said were the top 5 challenges you face, with a brief commentary on each.
Challenge #3 – Recruiting Quality People (Salespeople, Support, and Other Areas)
In our last two blogs, we covered the #1 and #2 Challenge: Selling Value vs Price, and Transitioning Salespeople to Being Business Advisors. Recruiting Quality People is the 3rd most important challenge.
Let’s recognize that in a low unemployment economy that we are now experiencing, this is indeed difficult. And even more so when we wait to recruit primarily when an opening presents itself. That is not the answer.
The best companies are always recruiting. The best Sales Managers keep their eye open for superior talent and begin building those relationships before an opening presents itself. I have found that the best companies have less of a challenge filling positions as strong employees seek them out to join the company. This is where culture comes in, where you create such an attractive workplace that the best seek you out.
What have you done to become a Talent Magnet for your organization?
THINK ABOUT IT.

 

Challenges We Face Study – Transitioning Salespeople To Being Business Advisors vs. Product Sellers

Challenges We Face Study – Challenge #2 – Transitioning Salespeople To Being Business Advisors vs. Product Sellers
Earlier this year, Mark Mitchell, who co-authored our book RAINMAKER, and I conducted a study to learn what Building Materials Sales Forces are being challenged with this year. 146 organizations participated. For the next few blogs, I will provide insight on what we learned. I will share what you said were the top 5 challenges you face, with a brief commentary on each.
Challenge #2 – Transitioning Salespeople To Being Business Advisors vs. Product Sellers
In our last blog, we covered the #1 Challenge: Selling Value vs Price. Scoring nearly the same, 60% of Sales Managers and Sales Leaders felt that Transitioning Salespeople to Business Advisors was the 2nd biggest challenge they face.
Truthfully, I did not find this surprising. The Building Materials industry is ALL ABOUT PRODUCT! Every company does its absolute best to come up with new variations, new products, and new enhancements every single year. Every trade show I see, nearly all the exhibits are displaying product. And yes, I know, product pays the bills!
I get it. But if all you are selling is product, inevitably you get caught in the challenge of differentiation. More and more customers can buy product via on-line portals. What customers are seeking is your counsel, your experience, your ability to help them succeed. And for that, you need to shift your mindset from selling product, to selling yourself and your company as a source of counsel to the challenges they experience every day. As one CEO said to me: “Our sole purpose is to help customers improve their businesses.” So, while product and service solutions do ultimately generate revenue, ask yourself:
  • Are you genuinely committed to making that transition to becoming advisors?
  • Are you developing business acumen on the part of your sales teams?
  • Are you helping your salespeople develop a compelling business case for your solutions?
  • What is your Value Message?
Becoming a Business Advisor is a never-ending journey. That is why it is hard. But I guarantee you, making progress in this area will absolutely differentiate you and drive bigger opportunities.
THINK ABOUT IT.

 

 

Challenges We Face Study – Selling Value vs Price

Challenges We Face Study – Challenge  #1 Selling Value vs Price
Earlier this year, Mark Mitchell, who co-authored our book RAINMAKER, and I conducted a study to learn what Building Materials Sales Forces are being challenged with this year. 146 organizations participated. For the next few blogs, I will provide insight on what we learned. I will share what you said were the top 5 challenges you face, with a brief commentary on each.
Challenge #1 – Selling Value vs Price
The #1 challenge has been expressed many times before. 61% of the participants rated this as the #1 challenge. We all know that customers are savvy in knowing what competitors offer and in extracting price concessions from suppliers.
If your product or service has become commoditized, then it is natural for a customer to seek the best price if there are few points of differentiation.
What I have observed is this:
  • Most salespeople are just not comfortable describing VALUE
  • Most salespeople struggle articulating what value is and establishing a compelling business case on why a company should do business with them.
  • Most do not prepare diligently to engage in meaningful dialog on what value means to the customer
When all is said and done, value is in the eye of the beholder, and value may change frequently depending on the type of selling situation you are in. And if we are not clear about the value we bring, business transactions relegate themselves to price.
We believe that there are five components of Value:
  1. Performance – How your products, company, or service meets their “performance” requirements.
  2. Financial – How your products, company, or service generates ROI, is cost-effective, saves or generates money, and/or provides a reasonable total cost of ownership.
  3. Service – How you or your company provides consistent support, how responsive you are, the ease of use of the product, and your flawless implementation.
  4. Image – How your products, company, or service enhances their company’s image.
  5. Relationship – How you and your company develop trust and dependability, how you go the extra mile, your level of experience, and your knowledge of their business.
If you are a leader reading this, I strongly encourage you to lead a discussion with your reps on each of these five value buckets. You will be surprised at what you will learn and it will help you focus on how they should SELL VALUE instead of price.
If you are a salesperson, prepare a set of questions for each of these value buckets to engage your customer in how they perceive value. It could be a real difference maker.
THINK ABOUT IT.