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No Sales Model Is Forever, What To Do When What Worked Isn’t Working

by David Brock on May 18th, 2011

Often, I go into a sales organization that is struggling and am amazed to see they are approaching the market and customers the same way they always have.  They have the same sales deployment model, their sales process hasn’t changed in years, the profile of the people they recruit and hire hasn’t changed, same metrics, same compensation system……..  Everything that has served them well in the past, is no longer serving them effectively.  Some are caught in a precipitous downward spiral in terms of sales performance.  Others are struggling to stay even, they are working harder, longer, faster; but it’s harder and harder to stay even, let alone pull ahead.

I walk in and see things basically haven’t changed in the past 5-10-15 years.  Some small tweaks and adjustments, maybe more technology supporting their model, but substantively their go to market strategy has not changed.

Then I  ask them about their customers.  They immediately respond, everything has changed with the customers–who they are, how they behave, what they need, how they buy….. everything has changed.

Then I ask about the competition.  The response is immediate and predictable, they’ve changed–there are more, they are different, they compete differently.

There are a few other questions, all with predictable answers—everything has changed!

Everything has changed — but them.  They may have started with a direct sales model—they still have it, yet competitors are leveraging channels, telesales, eCommerce or some other route to market!  They haven’t changed their sales process, yet customer are buying differently!

All of us, individuals an organizations, get stuck with what worked.  We continue to try to make it work, even in the face of mounting evidence that what worked is no longer working.   The longer we try, the more difficult, the more expensive, and the more opportunity is lost.

We have to constantly reinvent ourselves and our organizations.  If everything around us is changing, and we don’t, the outcome is clear.

As individuals, we have to continue to upgrade our skills, knowledge, attitudes.  As organizations, we have to be willing to change our business models, change our processes, change everything we do.  To be successful, we must align ourselves and organizations with the changes going on around us.

Do a quick audit of yourself and your organization:

  1. Have you learned some dramatically new skills in the past year?
  2. Have you ventured outside your comfort zone to expose yourself to new ideas, different points of view, different approaches in the past year?
  3. Have you studied new business models that are cropping up in your customers and competition and assessed how to best align what you are doing to what they are doing?
  4. Have you reassessed and re-validated your target customers and your sweet spot in the past 18 months?  Are your value propositions still creating value for your customers?
  5. Have you seriously reassessed your sales deployment model in the past 18 months?  What about your overall sales strategies? Likewise, your hiring profiles, your metrics, your sales process?  Are you still training your people the same things in the same old ways?
  6. Are you leading the change, responding to the change, or oblivious to the change?

If you respond “No” to one or more of these questions, you are probably being outsold!

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