A sure fire way to monopolize a market is through a meticulous sales effort. Products are important indeed but they fall flat without the masters of market navigation and the ideal of helping people make the best decisions possible for their companies.
After so many years, so many books, so many articles, the “art of the sell” still seems a mystery to so many except for the select few that reach “Grandmaster” level. I love this term, by Peter Thiel, who so brilliantly outlines in his book Zero to One, that exceptional product + exceptional sales can monopolize a market! Peter refers to these exceptional sales types as Grandmasters. I refer to them as the 1% of the over 13 Million sales people in the US that actually receive the following:
a. Exceptional support from their company’s leadership and departmental teams
b. Have the self-driving initiative to soak up information and learn every day and teach every minute (guiding, offering insights and moving prospects along a decision cycle with all the information needed to make the best decision)
c. Did I say being insightful? I mean not always agreeing. Challenging conventional thinking and helping the prospect do homework that improves the decision making process and removes more of the risk in making a decision.
This takes time you say? Well guess what, the payoffs are worth the time and the investment. But how do you get there? We make it harder than it really is but it is work, real work! Just like building the products and investing in the build of a stellar product that has a long life cycle so must you invest in a sales team that has a long life cycle and has intimate knowledge of the product, the industry and the larger market.
Here are a three strategies for creating Grandmaster sales teams to consider as you are creating your 2015 Strategic Plans:
1. Invest in the development and knowledge of the overall team not just on products of your company, and not just on what the competition is not doing well. Business savvy sales teams are far more successful than sales people/teams focused on selling product features and benefit. Certainly there is a place for junior sales people to gain experience by being more transactional/fast turn cycles focused however long term growth and sustainability will prove to separate you from the pack.
2. Conduct role-plays of a variety of scenarios with both the senior and junior teams. Learning to anticipate the challenges and what a prospect is not saying is one of the biggest areas sales people fall down on. You can develop this skill in your sales people and it would be equally as beneficial for the entire company to go participate in. Successful sales people can be very strong but if their support teams back in Headquarters are not keeping pace and listening to their feedback as some point a leveling off and possible decline in sales may take place.
3. Marketing’s role has to evolve beyond a great website and a few blog posts and email campaigns. Marketing has greatly morphed into so much more than even 2 years ago. Today marketing must have predictive analytics experts, technology savvy leaders and financially astute team members and the team must be aligned so closely to sales and the markets you are targeting that it feels like one organization. Marketing and Sales can not longer live successfully as Marketing and Sales. Creating a seamless Marketing Selling organization who intimately knows their target customers will prove to be a core differentiator should you design it that way.
4. Create more face time ability for the sales team by relieving some of the time pressure activities on the sales person’s plate. For a frame of reference on the Time Demands of Sales People we created this chart you see in this article. Time is not on the side of a sales team.
Overall, if you build it they will come rarely works. The best and largest organizations in the world have invested heavily in creating expert, long lasting sales teams which equals a growing and long lasting set of happy customers in the end.
Flip through the 2014 trends ebook, download Turning Trends Into Products: A CEO’s Checklist For Success
Follow Teresa Spangler @composerspang or Plazabridge Group@plazabridge.Teresa often speaks on trends, disruptive technologies and adoption, leadership and growth during rapid economic changes. She is the author of the Game of Life Book Series, a contributing author to OpenForum. Click to learn more about Plazabridge Group.