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Posted by Brian Lambert on May 13, 2011
A week doesn't go by when I haven't talked to someone who is in sales or marketing about the work they're doing to help the sales team change how they communicate value. It seems that many marketing and sales leaders are working hard to "help salespeople sell higher" or "help salespeople differentiate the messages they deliver." A couple of patterns are emerging; like moving the sales conversations from being transaction-focused to a more consultative one, or moving a consultative conversation to a more outcome-focused conversation.
There is no doubt that changing the sales conversation means changing the behavior of the sales team -- many sales leaders believe that change can't happen fast enough. When it comes to making the shift, you have a short list of choices:
1) develop or expand the existing skill set of the current salespeople you have, or
2) work with the sales leadership team and HR team to hire the right salespeople who have the right skills and connections to have the right conversations you need to be successful
3) a combination of both 1 and 2
More and more technology vendors are deciding to invest in the salespeople they have. For most technology vendors, hiring for skill just isn’t working. One sales leader said, “We are realizing that the talent shortage in the profession overall is working against us. Many salespeople just haven’t been trained like they used to, and they have picked up some bad habits along the way."
We are at a sales "skills cross-road."
Obviously, being succesful today is more difficult then being successful 10 years ago. Product portfolios are becoming larger and more sophisticated, creating more complexity that salespeople need to navigate. Adding to this complexity on the vendor side, sales leaders, sales enablement professionals, sales managers, and sales reps must clearly define the behaviors required to communicate value in a world where more and more buyers are demanding outcomes, not solutions. Today's salespeople need to be able to improve their reach and their footprint within existing accounts at increasingly higher levels of decision-making power within more complex customer organizations, where a wider variety of buyers must agree on a) the problem that needs to be addressed, and b) the role of the technology vendor in solving the problem. Unfortunately, many salespeople today are finding these conversations to be increasingly difficult, and they're not getting the right kind of help they need (see our other blog posts).
What are the challenges we need to address?
With increased skill requirements, come increased content and tool requirements.
Obviously, salespeople cannot do it all alone. They need help from their marketing, portfolio, and sales colleagues. If salespeople improve their skill set dramatically and are able to gain access and have successful meetings with the right people at the right altitude level, they will still need something to talk about. That means they need the right content from their marketing, business unit, and sales training teams who equip them with the right messages. That means portfolio, marketing, and sales team leaders need to make sure their teams are focused on supporting sales rep skills.
Please help the community: A Question For You:
How has your organization addressed the sales skills talent shortage? Are you seeing the same thing?
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