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Companies of all types have made tough cuts in the past two months, and have focused on tightening the ship for 2009. Every business activity has to have a clear ROI this year and many entrenched business models are coming under fire. In a survey of the MDM audience on profitability earlier this month, distributors indicate primary investment areas this year will be in new market development, online sales capabilities, and in outside sales activities.
While some people might think hybrids are the hope of the automotive industry, I think we will see distributors increasingly build more efficient hybrid sales models. Resource-guzzling outside salespeople won't make the cut this year. Companies will get much more strategic about assembling a combination of online sales tools and support, together with customer segment teams to attack opportunities and tighten customer relationships.
In a presentation last week at a regional conference of the National Association of Electrical Distributors, Steve Deist of Indian River Consulting Group talked about the evolving sales force. He first outlined the traditional sales model, where the rep owns all the relationship equity and performs a lot of low-value functions in an inefficient and expensive process. He then went through a market-based model based on customer segments, with a support team in place to allow the outside sales rep to focus on high-potential, high-value accounts.
Deist identified a few crucial performance drivers - identifying the right activities to produce the desired results, and tracking those activities. No matter how you plan to refine sales efforts this year, identify the metrics that will help make the transition and reach your goals. It's the only way to shift to a more flexible and strategic selling model.

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