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Building the (MPS) Sales Force of the Future

28 Apr, 2011 By: Tom Cooke & Kim D. Ward, PMSG

Building the (MPS) Sales Force of the Future

In the document imaging industry, we consistently leverage data and
technology to establish benchmarks and best practices to effectively help our
customers and prospects improve, manage, and control their print environments. 
And yet the question must be asked, “Are company leaders utilizing and
leveraging available information and technology to build the sales force of the

We must ask ourselves, are we hiring and training MPS consultative sales
professionals based on experiences, criteria, or possibly perspectives from the
past? The reality of change in our industry is no longer an issue of choice or
perception. The experts agree that transitioning your organization from the
sales model of the past to a more contemporary, productive, and customer centric
Managed Print Services go-to-market plan is not an option but a necessity of
survival and growth. And yet many leaders today are struggling with developing a
clear snapshot of what their future business environments, management processes
and sales professional profiles should look like. Now for the good news… the
technology and information for connecting the dots and addressing potential gaps
in a dealer growth development plan for building the sales force of the future
already exists.

Consulting groups, including Print Management Solutions Group/ Learning
Outsource Group who has partnership with other sales improvement companies like
the Chally Group Organization, utilize comprehensive research, information, and
technologies to create what should be considered to be the:

1.      Top  Priorities for Leading Sales Organizations

2.       MPS Consultative Sales Competency Predictive Profile

3.      Specific, Observable and Measurable MPS Sales Behaviors and

According to the most recent research by the Chally Group, customers are sure
of what they want, need and expect from today’s salespeople and supplier
organizations. Chally’s World Class Sales Force Benchmark Study, involving
interviews with over 2500 decision makers involving thousands of individual
salespeople resulted in the creation of the following list of customer
expectations regarding the salespeople that call on their businesses:

Specifically customers say that salespeople should:

1.      Be personally accountable for customer desired results

(A real partner who takes joint ownership of the outcomes)

2.      Understand the customer’s business

(Goals, challenges, opportunities and culture)

3.      Be on the customer’s side

(A customer advocate inside their own vendor organization)

4.      Design the right applications

(Think well beyond product features remembering applications equals value)

5.      Be easily accessible and solve customer problems

(Connected, available – diagnosis, prescribes, resolves issues – a
solutions approach)

6.      Be creative in responding to changing customer needs

(Always in search of business and process improvements)

You may be asking, so what does this information specifically mean to growing
my MPS business model, and how do I use this data to my advantage, especially
when hiring and developing my only sustainable competitive advantage…my

By looking at the specific knowledge, skills, behaviors, work ethic, and
motivations required to become a highly successful MPS sales professional, and
linking this “DNA” to the Chally World Class Sales Excellence Research, the
following MPS sales competency profile was established. These competencies are
those attributes that will most predict success in this given role, but by no
means, not every characteristic that hiring managers should evaluate. (We should
always look at normal criteria such as professional appearance, financially
motivated, maturity, track record, ability to work under pressure, etc). Dealers
who are using this technology for testing and assessing both internal and
external candidates for MPS positions are significantly improving the quality of
those decisions, resulting in faster ramp time, focused training, improved sales
performance, lower turnover, and bottom line improvement. This specific MPS
sales competency profile is referenced below:

MPS Salesperson Competency Predictive Profile:

1.      Develops and uncovers sales leads and opportunities

(Gathers essential information to uncover desired customer benefits)

2.      Qualifies opportunities

(Uses formula and/or questions to determine the customer-solution fit)

3.      Makes persuasive presentations

(Excites the customer with an enthusiastic style which demonstrates
relevant value and benefit)

4.      Commits time and effort to ensure success

(Willing to commit to and remain focused on goal achievement without

5.      Maximizes results as a customer advocate

(Understands the customer’s business and problems then develops effective

6.      Adapts approach to buyer motivations

(Willing to adjust selling approach to match individual customer

7.      Promotes customer retention by soliciting feedback

(Solicits feedback to develop future applications & improve the customer’s

8.      Increases business through continuous customer contact

(Takes a consistent proactive approach to customer contact and

9.      Develops product knowledge to be a credible resource

(Comprehensive knowledge of products, applications and return customer

10.  Effectively manages a complex buying team

(Understands & works effectively with all decision influencers to produce
positive outcomes)

And finally, senior sales leadership in the dealer environment today must
ensure that today’s sales winner’s remain consistent with a customer focused,
consultative, and solutions driven approach on every sales call. In order to
best support these priorities, managers and leaders should focus their efforts
on teaching, coaching and improving the following specific, observable and
measurable behaviors and activities.

Specific, Observable and Measurable MPS Salesperson Behaviors and

1.      Focuses on and works toward continuous personal selling improvement

(Looking for daily opportunities to improve personal selling abilities and
possesses the willingness to change for better results)

2.      Follows a proven and quantifiable MPS selling process

(Is willing to follow the company approved selling process & continuously
works toward process improvement)

3.      Reports relevant customer information and strategies with the manager

(Consistently reports customer and call information and is willing to
leverage with the sales manager to improve selling results)

4.      Develop solutions which best fits the customer company and all buying
team members

(Identifies the decision criteria for all buying team members & develops
solutions which promote sales and satisfaction)

5.      Maintains the highest levels of business integrity when liaising
between customer and company

(Provides honest and useful information to both parties in an effort to
solidify & nurture an ongoing mutually beneficial relationship)

Not only does the information and technology for developing a more natural
fit between supplier and customer exist; but implementing, developing and
coaching salespeople to act on these customer stated priorities offers companies
the opportunity to truly differentiate themselves as well.

If you are a leader or manager of any company who is focused on moving your
company into the new future, there has never been a bigger need for assessing
candidates and effectively training today’s sales professionals. Customers have
told us what their expectations and demands are. So the question must be asked,
“Are you utilizing and leveraging available information and technology to build
the sales force of the future?”

Tom Cooke is Managing Principal of Print Management Solutions Group &
Founder/Pres. of Learning Outsource Group.  Kim D. Ward is the Director of
Training & Development for the company (FL) and co-authored “Selling Managed
Print Services– The Print Partnering Process.” PMSG is a joint venture with Pros
Elite Group. At


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