Four meaty conversations with Heads of Sales last week provoked me to lament that many such sales leaders continue to struggle to reinvent the function of their sales teams to address the permanent change in their customer relationship world, at this time, now approaching 10 years since the GFC effected that change.  The four chats emanated from industries as diverse as………..

  • Supply of finished fittings into building and construction (both residential and commercial)
  • Health and wellness services supply into corporate
  • Health and wellness products supply into pharmacy and other sectors
  • Educational products and services into schools

The great irony for sales organisations in these sectors, as in most B2B sectors, is that since the GFC, products and services offered by suppliers have become progressively more commoditised in the eyes of the customer.  As a direct consequence of that perception, so too has the perception of value and relevance of the account manager’s regular visits diminished.  There is a dichotomy here.  It should be that BECAUSE products and service have become more commoditised, the perceived value of the account manager should have increased.  The account manager should be providing the value and differentiation that products and services used to.

But too often the employing sales organisations are stuck in the mindset of arming the account managers and reps of their sales teams to go out to primarily sell widgets and wares.  Battle for market share, wearing the shackles of price discounting and me-too products and services. There is only one realistic way out of this mire.  Retrain or rehire, so that the sales team knows more about the customer’s industry than the customers themselves, so that their primary function can become the trusted advisor.  Then brief them to sell their widgets and wares as the “Ps” of each visit.