As we now move into a new year I can’t help but feel excited, the year of the Olympics and the excitement surrounding it represents the huge opportunity to do business I feel is still available to UK PLC. The media will tell us differently, but then it has always been easier to announce a company going into administration or the loss of 50 jobs than to celebrate a huge new contract or the creation of thousands.
This doesn’t of course degrade the difficulties that many businesses have suffered over the last few years, but does recognise the massive opportunities that have been developped and being explored by many organisations across the UK.
Why Sales Organisations will lead
The Sales Profession is in the prime position to be leaders in 2012 and changes in our own profession represent a significant change in the landscape for good, rather than be a panic reaction to the recession. A colleague of mine compares the recession with natural selection; the idea that the herd of wildebeest is made stronger by the weaker animals being picked off by predators. In the sales communities this couldn’t be more applicable.
Sales savvy organisations have already implemented new strategies that have triggered changes within their business; they’ve accepted that the same strategies of five years ago aren’t relevant today. In response, sales thought leaders are also stepping up, research from businesses such as Miller Heiman
and their analysis of world class sales organisations, Blue Sky
and their analysis of procurement departments and how to work with them, and the Sales Executive Council
with their exciting Challenger Sales Model are showing sales organisations new ideas that are already making a difference for their clients.
Sales organisations that develop new strategies that work over the next five years will have changed for good, they will have improved their own bottom line and, in the natural selection analogy, would have improved and strengthened the economy as a whole.
So What will Change?
I’ve been fortunate enough to be exposed to many different sales thought leaders over the past 12 months, my constant frustration always being that nobody was saying anything different. This year has not been the case with new and exciting research as described above, a move away from the ‘7 tips to close a sale’ or the ‘5 ways to negotiating success’.
The research presented by BlueSky
at their annual conference brought forward some interesting conclusions around the movement between sales and procurement. The CIPS (Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply) now has over 60,000 members, demonstrating the evolution in strategy to move to procurement departments. The ISMM
membership is one of the few membership organisations that is growing but still represents a portion of that figure
As BlueSky suggest though, the sales community is reacting, the experiences of sales professionals with procurement departments is causing less and less RFP’s to be completed, the strategy of bypassing procurement is rife and in some industries companies are now charging for proposals. The ISMM membership is also growing!
The message from BlueSky wasn’t necessarily to maintain this conflict, but to actually look to work with procurement, become an ally, but to also learn what they are looking for. They also presented the importance of TCO – Total Cost of Ownership and the importance of being able to articulate the financial proposition.
The Challenge of 2012
Perhaps the most exciting research and presentation of the year came from the Sales Executive Council, at the book launch of ‘The Challenger Sale’
this theory was endorsed by none other than Professor Neil Rackham
. He described the proposition as “...the most important advance in selling for many years”.
The Challenger Model was particularly exciting as it was in itself challenging the conventional way of selling, the concept of relationship builders as being the key performers in sales organisations was blown away by the new challenger sales person.
The concept of teaching organisations was introduced alongside these individuals and the idea that up to 54% of the buying decision can go towards what the sales person adds in their own personal value helped demonstrate the importance of this model.
The Sales Profession
For the last few years the most important part of the changing landscape in sales has been the professionalization of sales. This has become more than just a sound bite, more organisations are recognising this is and a growing number are reacting to it.
Superb Sales Academies are being developed across some of the largest companies in the UK, and are not just an internal communication title to show the business invests in sales training, but a genuine academic approach to learning. The ability to analyse and evaluate one’s own day to day activities and to implement change accordingly, the ability to research and understand different sales models and apply them to the business.
Sales has always been scared of academia, it is now looking to embrace it and learn from it, this is a monumental shift in mentality for sales training departments and sales directors. Not until now could the sales community call itself a profession, it wasn’t professional enough, the evolution is taking place and the results are already looking exciting.
So why is this Significant?
If we can look back at the theory of natural selection, the current economic recession has instigated change, a change that these theories and research have already shown to be ones that are profitable and sustainable.
The recession may have been bad for many people, but it has been good for the sales profession, the profession has become more important more recognised and most significantly has become more intelligent and more professional.
We wish you all an exciting and profitable 2012 and thank you for your readership, thoughts and comments through 2011. We look forward to engaging further with you in the future