In most industries today, a handful of ideal customers have become universal targets. Nearly every industrial salesperson dreams of calling on the CEO's or managing directors of those top companies, which logically means that there are maybe 500 customers for millions of sellers.
With such intense competition, conventional approaches are not equal to the challenge. Salespeople need to develop strategies that distinguish their products, services and their organisations in the mind of the customer.
Making a sale has always involved an element of systematic planning, but strategic selling means more than rehearsing product information and timing the close. Strategic selling begins with understanding your company's strategy, vision and distinctiveness and then selecting high profile customers.
The next step, logically, is anticipating each stage of the buying process - from analyzing the competition to identifying the influencers and decision-makers and being switched in to the buyer's political issues.
In other words, there is a need for a comprehensive strategic profile and rigorous opportunity assessment process.
Most important, strategic selling means strategizing from the customer's point of view.
Top achievers see strategic selling as a routine part of their work - not a final resort.
What Are The Implications For Sales Management?
For companies to remain competitive now, their sales organisation must be able to respond positively to changing economic tides. As businesses strive to establish customer orientation, sales partnerships and a strategic approach to selling, they are demanding more and more from their salespeople, but ensuring that these new methods are widely practiced and smoothly implemented falls to sales management.
Sales productivity is a strategic issue. That's why problems in this area stem from salespeople being unclear about their company's priorities - i.e. what their message should be and what they should be selling.
The trend in industry of removing layers of management between the sale force and the general manager presents a challenge to those sales managers who remain. To begin with, the sales manager becomes an essential link between company strategy and what takes place in the customer's office. He or she must not only grasp the corporate vision, but be able to communicate it to the sales force in terms of the real effects on sales practices.
PS: Why 99%? Because 99% of companies in North America have less than 100 employees, and we can therefore assume that at least one resident of the "C-Level Suite" will be involved in the decision making process.