The game has changed and many companies are not adapting:
1. Trying to create "clear water" and achieve differentiation is very difficult. Many of the traditional competitive weapons like product development, pricing, distribution, advertising and packaging can be copied very quickly and, in the eyes of the customer, "everyone is selling the same sort of thing these days.
2. Customers are less loyal. They are no longer prepared to tolerate service that falls short of expectations - in fact many are not......prepared to tolerate service that simply meets expectations. In today's marketplace customers expect their suppliers to exceed expectations at all stages of the sales and service delivery process.
3. Customers are looking for added value - not just efficient and effective products at the right price. They expect their suppliers to help them reduce costs and/or increase sales and demonstrate the bottom-line implications of their proposals.
4. More business is coming from key accounts. According to research, sales to the average company's top ten customers have risen from 23%, in 1975, to 60% today. Although smaller customers have successfully been "converted" to purchasing electronically or accepting a telephone-based relationship via a call centre, research has confirmed that key accounts still expect to be managed face to face.
Therefore many companies today have recognised that the best way to address these issues and achieve differentiation, exceed customer expectations and add value to key accounts in particular is to develop and recruit Account Managers and Directors capable of operating as "business partners", rather than suppliers.
To do this Account Managers need to have "high" relationship management skills and a "high" level of understanding about the customer's business needs, problems, pressures, priorities, fears and aspirations for the future.
Another very important aspect to realise is that many sales people are not properly coached/trained in what's happening out there. They need to understand themselves and what motivates them firstly, and then have an understanding of customers and presenting in such a way that their products and services answer to the new trends.
Sales is by no means an easy job and has become very sophisticated and engagements are happening at much higher levels than perviously.
Companies need to address training and coaching as statistics show:
- Coached firms have a 17% higher hit rate on targets
- Coached firms have a 24% higher success rate on reaching forecast
- Coached firm are 2x more likely to become a preferred vendor and trusted partner
- Coached firms amplify behaviors and deliver 26% higher pipeline results
- Coached firms drives performance and 30% more sales people reach targets
- Coached firms are more motivated, positive, have confidence in their ability and more target orientated
Statistic provided from over 400,000 sales people.