Sleepless In Sales

Topics: Customer service, Sales process engineering, Sales Pages: 13 (2192 words) Published: April 20, 2015
Sleepless in Sales
The demand exists, the product is good, and the sales
team is working harder than ever. Yet you are still losing
sales. Different times require different solutions, and
B2B companies need to find them.

Sleepless in Sales


It’s 3:15 a.m. Awake again. My brain won’t shut off. Why are sales down? Our product is competitive, clients like it, and we’ve run all of the obligatory sales improvement programs. Maybe it’s the sales team. They keep saying it’s tough to keep up with so many customized products. If they can’t master our products, how can they sell them?

Our customers expect us to be agile and flexible. They want a better sales team—salespeople who are specialists in either the industry or our product and preferably both. They want faster responses and real information, and they want it 24-7, whether by email, instant messaging, or what … Twitter? Seriously? I’ll get the team together in the morning to figure this out. Again!

Sales is a whole new animal—
especially B2B—and companies
worldwide know they need to radically
alter the way they operate.
If you are in sales, this fictional example of a sleepless chief sales executive should hit close to home. There is a lot of late night tossing and turning thanks to more channels, regulations, complicated products, and demands from more customers. Sales is a whole new animal—especially business-to-business (B2B) sales—and companies worldwide know they need to radically alter the way they operate. We have four suggestions to do just that (see figure 1).

Figure 1
Four strategies to address the new challenges in business-to-business sales

See your customers
and prospects in new ways

Rethink your
go-to-market strategy

Upgrade your
sales capabilities

Change the way you
interact with customers

Source: A.T. Kearney analysis

Sleepless in Sales


1. See Your Customers in New Ways
It is natural for salespeople to visit customers with whom they have had some success. It is also useless. Instead, find out what your customers want and by extension their true sales potential. Otherwise you are leaving a lot of money on the table (see figure 2). Salespeople who do some digging to get a better understanding of a customer’s needs and requirements are more apt to ask the right questions, the kind that will close the deal, rather than relying on vague market research. One client, a leading telecom operator, came to us after mistakenly counting on market research rather than trusting the basic knowledge salespeople had about a customer’s preferences in handsets. Some of the knowledge was anecdotal, learned in conversations over lunch and was largely discounted. When the customer switched to a competitor, the operator lost millions of dollars in revenue. Had the operator moved on its own information—doing targeted research to confirm its customers’ needs, likes, and dislikes—it might still have this customer today.


Figure 2
Assess current customers on the basis of sales potential


Sales potential









Share of wallet potential (%)



Mass market channels includes telesales, eChannel, and distributors.

Source: A.T. Kearney analysis

Sleepless in Sales


2. Rethink Your Go-to-Market Strategy
Everyone has and needs a sales force, but why rely on just your own? In this new world order, you need to have tentacles everywhere to cover the market, and there is no better way to get full coverage than through strategic partnerships that offer more access to clients, more flexibility, and entry into new, global markets (see sidebar: Power in Partners). This is precisely why the number of partnerships in B2B industries is growing—high tech, telecom, engineering, and consumer electronics are all invested.

There are several kinds of partnerships, from...
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