Each year SalesMethods holds a ‘Think Tank’ event aimed at promoting conversation regarding the key sales issues of the time. Given the seismic event in the UK of Brexit we sought to determine what the commercial environment is going to be like in the coming months (and years) and what might be the strategies we will need to be successful. Although after our event, the election of Donald Trump also suggests a time of change is looming for the US and its trading partners.
To open the event we invited Dominic Swords, a leading business economist and a long-time friend of SalesMethods, to give a thorough appraisal of the economic (and to some extent political) environment following Brexit. Without over simplifying matters, his conclusion was that we will be trading in an uncertain world for some years to come. Whether we invoke Article 50 sooner rather than later, there will still be many questions that will need to be answered regarding whether we have a hard or soft exit. Organisations will not want to tread water however – and decisions must be made irrespective of this uncertainty. Mitigating risk will therefore be a primary factor of the sales environment.
Beth Rogers, Head of Marketing and Sales at Portsmouth University and a leading sales researcher, followed Dominic and referenced the world of purchasing and how that has evolved to become a more strategic function. In this period of uncertainty Beth re-enforced how risk mitigation will be a primary buying criteria and how Sales needs to respond by being able to prove the value that their organisations can deliver and by taking as much uncertainty out of the equation as possible in terms of likely business benefits.
Finally, Chris Blundell, VP Sales Transformation and Global Accounts for BT referenced how they are responding and emphasised how the digital revolution is continuing to reshape the world and solutions they are using to enhance Account Development, one of the key strategies for creating the trust required to win new bids.
Three very different perspectives, with one very clear message. In a time of uncertainty Sales’ role is to help customers mitigate risk through solutions that are proven to deliver the business benefits targeted. The more we can point to a certainty of outcome the more we mitigate risk in these uncertain times.
Unfortunately, there were several of us at the event that remembered similar challenges throughout the 70’s, 80’s 90’s and 0’s. What we recalled was the paradox that those organisations that were trusted to deliver on their sales promises not only won their share of the business available, they also took market share from those that were not as well trusted.
You may argue that it was rather self-serving for a group of Sales professionals, but the conclusion we drew was that having an effective sales organisation was critical to both sustain business and take market share.