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ISM Article

Building the Sales Force of the Future

9 May, 2011 By: Tom Cooke & Kim D. Ward, PMSG imageSource

Building the 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 Activities

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
  3. Be on the customer’s side (A customer advocate inside their own vendor
  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. Competency profile

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 (Uses enthusiastic style to demonstrates
    relevant value)
  4. Commits time and effort to ensure success (Willing to commit to and
    remain focused on goal achievement without distraction)
  5. Maximizes results as a customer advocate  (Understands the customer’s
    business and problems then develops effective solutions)
  6. Adapts approach to buyer motivations (Willing to adjust selling approach
    to match individual customer motivations)
  7. Promotes customer retention by soliciting feedback (Solicits feedback to
    develop future applications)
  8. Increases business through continuous customer contact  (Takes a
    consistent proactive approach to customer contact & communication)
  9. Develops product knowledge to be a credible resource (Knowledge of
    products, applications & return customer benefits)
  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, focused on

Specific,  Measurable Behaviors and Activities:

  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 and continuously works toward
    process improvement)
  3. Reports relevant customer information and strategizes 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
    and develops solutions which promote sales and satisfaction)

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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