Sales 2013: Same Name, Different Game6 Feb, 2013 By: Jim McMeel, Compass Sales Solutions imageSource
The industry pundits fill our ears with the imminent demise of our core business as the proliferation of tablets and connected devices reduce the need for printed output. In an effort to control, or at least extend, the viability of this business model, Managed Print Services has become the tool to ensure the financial stability of our model while we re-tool our philosophies and infrastructure to fully embrace true Managed Services provider status. If we back up for a second, one question you should be asking yourself is: How have you prepared your sales professionals to foster their success as your dealership makes this transition?
HAVE WE INVESTED IN EVERYTHING (BUT TRAINING)?
Dealers across the country, as well as around the globe, continue to invest in the tools necessary to migrate their dealerships towards a complete Managed Services model. Whether it’s the establishment of a Network Operations Center (NOC), building out a co-lo facility, partnering or acquiring local VAR’s, and/or cultivation of existing technical staff to handle this new space, are we overlooking the basic blocking and tackling required that will enable our sales reps to fill these data centers and NOC’s with satisfied clients? At the end of the day, we know that our front line managers have been and will continue to be the key driver in our success in Managed Services. They are the liaison to the field. They are the ones tasked with taking the strategy from the board room to the bull pen to the field. That being said, how do we insure that the direction and skills provided by the manager can enable the reps to achieve their financial success and a significant return on investment (ROI) to the company?
THE OLD IS NOT FOREVER NEW
Success in this new space won’t be easy for most dealers and their teams. For those organizations that struggled to make the transition from transactional business to solutions providers (i.e. MPS, workflow automation, etc.), they will find the transition to Managed Services to be even more difficult. Compounding this, the sales process continues to evolve as the old tried and true method of prospect engagement (i.e. cold calling) is quickly being replaced with a greater emphasis on social media visibility and interaction. The latest generation of sales professionals to enter our industry embraces this concept and undoubtedly could train us, the industry veterans, on the effective use of these tools. With that in mind, our job is to leverage their skills and create an environment that allows them to succeed. How? By having a comprehensive social media strategy. Again, the purpose of this article is not to discuss the specifics of how to create this, but rather, identify areas that can promote success for our sales professionals.
TRUE MOBILITY IS CRITICAL
As the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement continues to pick up steam, our sales professionals are clamoring for true mobile access to their critical information. Whether it is client specific information such as service histories, contract rates, lease details, or even CRM data, todays reps don’t want to be tethered to their laptops. They want to consume their information on their smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Again, having the ability to provide this information to them in this manner is critical to both attracting as well as retaining top talent.
TEAM OR INDIVIDUAL: THERE’S POWER IN NUMBERS
Not too many years ago, sales was truly an individual profession. The sales rep’s success or lack thereof, rested solely on their drive, passion, and skillset. One could also throw their sales manager in to the equation as well as one of the key factors in determining their success. Hence, our jobs were theoretically easier as we only had to get one person up to speed and productive. The complexities of our industry have changed this dramatically. Selling today’s technology solutions requires a wide variety of skills beyond traditional sales proficiency. In many instances, it could involve a rep, a manager, a solutions specialist, and possibly a solutions architect/IT resource. Getting these multiple individuals to function as a cohesive team can be a daunting task as each person brings different skills to the table and each person, more than likely, has part of their compensation tied to the success of the engagement. Alignment of these individual goals ultimately resulting in the achievement of the end goal requires consistent effort, open dialogue, and transparency among all team members. In terms of transparency, each member of the team must recognize their individual strengths as well as their weaknesses. The goal of the team is to leverage the strengths of the individual members and compensate for their weaknesses.
ARE WE HAVING THE RIGHT CONVERSATION (AT THE WRONG LEVEL)?
Let’s assume you’ve mastered the above items, assembled your team, and they are actively engaged in a solutions process with a prospective customer. Is the heavy lifting done at this point? After all, you’ve got your key people in the right position with a qualified prospect. But one key pitfall could await them. Having the right conversation at the wrong level. Also known as having the wrong conversation at the right level. For example, discussing device level information with the CEO is probably not your best strategy. The CEO wants to discuss how your solution supports or assists them in achieving their corporate objectives. The same could hold true in reverse. Discussing overall strategy and alignment with the office manager probably isn’t the correct conversation either. Too often, our employees have bought in to our overall value proposition so well that they are excited to share it every chance they get. It may seem obvious, but managing the sales team and insuring that we are having the right conversation at the right level enables us to advance the sales process at the appropriate speed.
ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES IS KEY
As you can see from the previously outlined items, there are many pieces to manage in the daily “chess game” we have as we look to grow our businesses and our employees. Our goal is to select the right tools, the appropriate team, and the correct strategy so that our chances for success are maximized. Don’t fall in to the trap of managing just one of these items as all three are critical to consistent success. If done carefully, supported fully, and performed consistently, the long term viability of our businesses can be insured.