Remember the cute little anecdote from the Stephen Covey classic…..”The 7 habits of highly effective people?”   The one about the cadre of machete cutters cutting their way through the jungle.  The cutters continuously figure out ways to cut more methodically, and in better teamwork unison so as to cut their way through the jungle more quickly.  Suddenly, one of the cutters climbs one of the jungle trees to peer out to the horizon.  “Hey guys, we are cutting in the wrong direction!”  comes the exaltation from above.   “Shut up” resounds the chorus from below………”we are cutting more quickly and making faster progress!”

Of recent times, I have found myself in situ to observe and study the workflows of numerous dispensaries and have pondered this Coveyism more than once.  Positioned on “the other side” from me …..the pharmacist working in and making a living from the dispensary, what does dispensary effectiveness mean to them?  What should it look like?  What about efficiency………as is versus could be?  How would their answers compare to those answers if we asked their waiting customers?  Can dispensary effectiveness and efficiency, both from the pharmacist and the customer’s perspective, co-exist in mutual harmony?  Have they ever deliberated these question and answers?

Surely by now you are asking yourself “how can any of this be applicable to me in the B2B arena?”

The normal advantage that the B2B Sales Exec has over the retail sales professional is that the B2B Sales Exec can target, ie can decide who to visit, when, why, and set the agenda to determine how to add value. The retail professional can’t………they are subject to whoever walks in the door, and the customer usually “sets the agenda” about why and when…..and what perceived value will look like.  This case study shows how too often the retail sales professional (even in this more professional of retail environments), misses the opportunity…………..the opportunity of turning customer responsiveness into proactivity…………….and giving themselves the B2B Sales Exec type advantage.  How can this be done?

Consider these lessons from a retail pharmacy setting versus B2B sales setting:

  • The average duration of a script customer lifecycle we found to be 4 minutes and 53 seconds (customer presents at dispensary, drops in script, waits for processing, collects script, receives counsel, pays and leaves). How much time do you allocate for a planned, best practices, face to face visit with a customer
  • At the dispensary 48% of the customers time is spent engaged with a staff member while the other 52% of the time they are disengaged, left on their own. Of your planned, best practices, visit time, how much is spent engaged with the customer versus time spent doing other things ie: disengaged from them?
  • Take the time to add value for your customers with each visit. Take interest in them, their current issues and needs and try to add value over and above. For example: Pharmacists were observed on average to only add value 9% of the time they engaged with a customer, value neutral conversations contributed to 62% of engagement time, 25% of the time was spent on risk management and 3% on value destroying conversations. Of the time dedicated to engaging your customer, what proportion is value adding versus value neutral, risk management &/or value destroying?
  • When observing script processing, on average staff spent 2min & 1sec actively working on the script. Another 2min & 14sec saw the script just sitting idle on the bench. What about your customer orders? Order to delivery times and delay times- how would these measure up?
  • What about the sales team itself – task allocation – can some of the work the Sales Exec (Expert B2B/pharmacist equivalent) is doing be assigned to someone else (Customer service / technician-assistant equivalent) leaving them more time in the field on value adding activity? Think about of the amount of time key ‘Sales Execs’ spend placing orders into the system, studying the stock counts, organising the production/orders for additional stock, answering calls which could easily be handled by others…..3/4 of the day is spent doing this rather than using ‘expertise’ out in the field with customers and prospects

So, what does all this mean? Is this how your customers feel about your visits/service? Would they make similarities between their sales visit from their B2B Sales Exec as they might when they visit their local retail pharmacy?

Lessons to be learnt…..B2B?

Next month we will consider the second part to this discussion “Effectiveness and efficiency – Lessons learnt from a retail story”

Visiting The Next Level’s website can help put this discussion in perspective. Or simply send us a message via the Contact Us section and we will gladly answer any questions you may have or organise to come out and have a discussion as to what The Next Level Sales System can do for you and your business.