Recently we have been involved in several Sales Transformation programs, playing our part as enterprise organizations seek to increase the sales effectiveness of their global sales organization; which led to us thinking; what is meant by the term Sales Transformation?

Possibly the simplest explanation is that we are always looking to improve our sales force (excuse the pun) performance and labelling it as a transformation project gives it the gravitas it deserves, but is transformation the most appropriate term?

The principle sales methodologies of Opportunity Management and Account Development have embodied the staple skills and competences of successful sales teams for at least thirty years. (Many Organizations have purged Account Management Processes at least that long ago, driven by meetings of global Heads of Sales focusing on global account management to win, keep and grow their most profitable accounts). Yet here we are, a generation later, still looking to leverage our performance through better adoption of these very principles.

So, are Sales Transformation projects simply re-badged sales effectiveness programs?

Well in our view no. Not when you factor in the digital revolution that has been taking place over recent decades.

Chris Blundell, BT’s VP Global Accounts and Sales Transformation, outlined the general impact of the advent of the digital revolution at our recent Think Tank forum. It is an impact that cannot be denied and which has had (and will continue to have) profound implications on not just commerce, but the very way we live. Simplifying matters greatly though there are two key trends that are challenging the way we sell; the changing buying patterns of our customers responding to the digital revolution and the availability of new applications and tools to aid the sales process.

At our Think Tank forum last year Beth Rogers outlined the changing buying patterns and how the internet meant that sales teams were being called into the buying process later, meaning their ability to control the presentation of their sales offering is weakening. The customer arrives at the conversation already well educated in the technicalities of the various options and often only seeks confirmation of an already decided process. Unless a seller can differentiate themselves to the point where they are considered for more than just supplying a product they have little chance to affect the process.

Chris Blundell explained how BT understand this changing world and how they are looking to transform their sales effectiveness not only by addressing the key challenges, but also by harnessing the power of the digital revolution to provide the solutions.

So, Sales Transformation – buzz words or fundamental need?

As a supplier of Software as a Service (SaaS) sales applications and tools we are acutely aware of the impact that a re-engineered sales process will have on the overall efficiency and effectiveness of a selling organization. The ability to leverage knowledge through a CRM system and drive behavior through embedded sales enablement can deliver a step change in performance. Our observation though is that the sales fundamentals remain. Successful sales depend on the value you can deliver, the relationships you have with your customer contacts and the extent that they trust you. The way that is achieved in the new world though is the part that is interesting.

By transformation in this instance we mean the re-engineering of the sales process to incorporate marketing communications as a vehicle for positioning your services and engaging with the customer much more than when salespeople were responsible for educating the customer. The use of digital media offers much more of a one-to-one relationship that in its’ own right builds trust. Sales needs to become more expert in the needs of the customer and in project managing customer stakeholders.

As outlined by Chris’s final point with regard the digital revolution, the need for transformation of Account Development Planning in BT is both being driven by the digital revolution and solved by it.

Transformation it is then!