Sales Transformation – Buzz Word or a Fundamental Need

Just recently we have been involved in several Sales Transformation programmes, playing our part as enterprise organisations seek to increase the sales effectiveness of their global sales organisation. which led to me thinking; what do we mean by the term Sales Transformation?

I guess 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.  (I can remember a purge on Account Management at Xerox at least that long ago, with meetings of global Heads of Sales focusing on global account management to win, keep and grow our most profitable accounts).  Yet here we are, a generation later, still looking to leverage our performance through better adoption of these principles.

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

Well no.  Not when you factor in the digital revolution that has been taking place over the last two 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 because of 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 in later, meaning their ability sales offering is weakening unless they can find a way to differentiate themselves to the point that they are consulted as to solutions – not simply product.

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 organisation.  The ability to leverage knowledge through a CRM system and drive behaviour 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 that is achieved though is the part that is interesting.

By transformation I guess we mean the re-engineering of the sales process to incorporate marketing communications as a vehicle for positioning your services and engaging customer much more than when sales people were responsible for educating the customer.  The use of digital media offers much more of a one-to-one relationship that in itself 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.

Michael Conner

Michael Conner

Michael has operated at executive board level in publicly quoted companies and has led operational activities across worldwide organisations. Michael has extensive experience of change management and implementing business transformation programmes (turnarounds and repositioning) throughout disbursed businesses. He is an expert in sales (direct and channels), marketing (including product management), general management, making acquisitions and worldwide markets. He is CEO at SalesMethods.