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I have worked with distribution sales organizations for 25 years, and learned much about the industry from successful distribution salespeople. The final discussion last Thursday in the third of a Webcast series on Sales Effectiveness drove home for me how critical a differentiator a high-performance sales team can be in today’s markets. When there is so much confusion and uncertainty, there is a natural tendency to go into survival mode. That’s precisely why motivated salespeople are so important as the business cycle starts to improve. Here are a few thoughts from last Thursday’s Webcast.
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A distributor’s sales force is typically the largest expense in the business. Distribution sales requires specialized skill sets to nurture and maintain deep customer relationships. These qualitative skills are one of the most valuable assets for generating revenue. They can be one of the greatest liabilities as well because historically the sales rep “owns” the customer – all the knowledge and information about solving the customer needs.
Presenter Mike Marks made some great points. The problem is that many of these valuable sales reps have not been professionally managed, and have often been left alone to hunt where their instincts lead them. The result is they get frustrated with the company or their managers and go work for someone else or start their own company, taking the best customers with them.
The solution, Marks said, is to be the best company in the market to work for through a structured strategy, plan and incentives to keep the sales force engaged and motivated. Good salespeople are offensive weapons. If they focus on what they do best, and don’t get bogged down in hours of call reporting and paperwork, you will see the best results.
As Marks observed, the old sales model of lone rangers broke a long time ago. It has only been the recent seismic shift in the economy that exposed the flaws. It’s time to look at what your company can shift to make your offensive weapons more focused and effective in today’s economy.
The three-part series on Building an Effective Sales Organization for the Recovery is available on DVD. Order it here.