By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling®
At the risk of sounding like my parents, selling seemed so simple 25 years ago. Sales was on its own island and were the keepers of information buyers had to contact if they wanted to learn about new offerings.
Sellers could enjoy “Column A” status for most of the buying cycles before Columns B, C, etc. were brought into the fray late as fodder to provide leverage in negotiating the best price from Column A. Many of my blog posts have discussed how buying has changed, but few organizations have fully understood the implications of Sales 2.0.
Best of breed technology was the trend in the 90’s until organizations started to realize the exorbitant cost of integrating disparate offerings. This was also the time the buzz about integrating Sales and Marketing died because there were so few Success Stories.
Getting Your Ducks in a Row
In today’s environment sales organizations make their own decisions about sales training or process as marketing does. Product Marketing tries to identify specific market segments they want to reach out to. Product Development (furthest from buyers) attempts to create new offerings that address buyer/market needs. It seems there are several silos making what they feel or hope are good ‘best of breed’ decisions with little or no thought for the other silos’ requirements and how to integrate the different approaches.
Absent a coordinated approach that views revenue generation as an enterprise rather than a sales responsibility, it will be nearly impossible to react in a coordinated and meaningful fashion to the changes in buying behavior.
When choosing a process for revenue generation I’d suggest the following capabilities are needed:
- For each offering, sales and marketing must agree on the titles that comprise the buying committee.
- For each title, sales and marketing should agree on desired business outcomes that can be achieved through the use of the offering.
- Sales and marketing should create messaging for each conversation (title/outcome) to help sellers more consistently position offerings.
- Standard milestones in the buying process should be developed that can be verified based upon buyer actions rather than seller opinions.
- A common vocabulary that all four silos use should be agreed on so that customer-facing staff can more effectively articulate buyer/market needs for future offerings.
Organizational changes are necessary and difficult to put into effect, but having all silos understanding one another’s’ responsibilities in revenue generation would go a long way toward making vendors more customer-centric.