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    « Greed and Fear | Main | Moving from Transactional to Consultative »

    May 05, 2006

    Different Strokes for Different Folks

    One of the most profound concepts aligned with the previous post it is very difficult if not impossible to have the same people working in both models. The reason for this is each model requires different skill sets and more importantly different mindsets. This could be proven with some sort of personality tests like Myers-Briggs or Kolbe. A sales representative who excels at making many phone calls and sending out many quotes and has been successful working this model will have a very difficult time if he must walk customers through a sales process that may take 3 or 4 months. Conversely a sales person who has been successful closing large sales by consulting with customers on their business processes will not be successful in a job where he must make 100 phone calls a day and visit 10 customers a day.

    A sales manager who must manage a sales force will similarly have problems. A transactional sales manager will manage the activity of his sales reps, where a consultative sales manager will focus more on managing the qualifying the opportunities, and executing an effective process.  

    I was at a Neil Rackham seminar where he gave an example of company that sold high-end telecommunications switching equipment. These are very expensive, very complex and highly customizable. The average sales price was over $200,000. These sales arguably required a consultative sales process. Management was not happy with the sales results so they sacked the current sales manager and brought in a very successful sales manager from another division of the company. The division he worked in previously sold cellular phones. After interviewing his new staff and looking at the results he proclaimed to his new bosses, “the problem here is simple – these sales reps are not making enough calls”. He developed a system of measuring phone calls and customer visits. He feverishly held his sales reps accountable to goals measuring their activity.

    The result was a sudden increase in sales productivity…followed by a dramatic decrease. Within a few months most of the sales reps were either fired or left the company looking for a job where their consultative selling skills could be used. New hires would most likely be unsuccessful. The manager would hire sales reps that have been successful maximizing their activity and thus feel comfortable being measured this way. The type of product and the type of customer this division sold require a sales representative who can help them analyze their complex needs and consult with them to devise a solution – not push a product in a short period of time. The change in sales manager may have been justified, but without understanding the difference between transactional and consultative models the results were disastrous.

    Do you have any sales reps who have been successful selling traditional reprographics services who are having a difficult time selling document management solutions?  How are your sales representatives managed?

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