Does the traditional concept of sales and sales management need to be re-engineered – redesigned in the light of this new world, where products are complex, competition comes from everywhere and customers are King?
The case for the prosecution is compelling, and supported by expert witness – most recently the Harvard Business Review and DePaul University. The reports explain how traditional practice in sales teams hasn’t moved with the times, and how university business courses have so far failed to recognise the strategic role of sales in business. There’s even a suggestion that this interminable recession can be attributed to poor execution by sales teams across the developed economies. Apparently, if the sales people were more capable, customers would be spending instead of hoarding their cash.
It all makes for an interesting read, and doubtless will generate discussion around many a board room table. Bosses love to have somebody to blame for their failures, and those pesky, unruly sales people are always fair game.
And it nicely sets up the sales pitch by universities – send us your young people and we’ll return you sales professionals (that’s an education establishment term for robots who can be deployed like drones, understanding the orders but not the strategy or tactics).
For the business schools this has to be the best opportunity in a generation. Sales operations is a (if not the) strategic business process, and yet its so far untouched by the academic community. The leaders who’ll decide to reorient their sales practices around business school outputs will be graduates of a similar system, and they won’t have to pay for it. And there’s a world full of young people, desperate to climb on the business bandwagon to stardom, but who couldn’t make it as lawyers, or accountants, or doctors, or MBAs. These are the ones who will pay for it.
So that’s the value proposition. Universities will re-engineer sales and sales management through class based education, and turn out the finished article, ready to hit the road running and reach break-even on day one, with a positive cash flow.
The story, like the curate’s egg, is both good and bad, in parts.
We agree with the diagnosis but not necessarily the prognosis, and laugh at the treatment plan.
Whether improved sales skills could end the recession is an absolutely certain ‘maybe’. Our economies are stuck in the doldrums as successive bubbles – dot com, credit and social media – deflate. Our customers aren’t buying because their customers aren’t buying. CEOs find managing the balance sheet easier than managing the business, and that means not spending cash which can be hoarded until more certainty returns.
And the prospect of universities teaching selling and sales management is a hoot. Today isn’t April 1st, but this just has to be an April Fool joke, doesn’t it.
Having said that, why should sales be any different?
Universities turn out mathematicians who bankrupt whole economies when their algorithms collapse under market swings. They turn out doctors who watch death rates in hospitals rise during the first weeks of ward duty. They turn out MBAs who constrain business to grabbing a bigger share of a smaller pot.
Why shouldn’t they turn out sales people who understand every analysis tool, every process system, and every management report, but can’t sell ice cream to arabs.
Why doesn’t the traditional approach to selling and sales management work so well any more? What can the modern sales professional do to stay relevant in today’s customer driven markets? Check out our eBook Reengineering Sales Management for ideas on how to embrace the new order of customer driven buyer/seller relationships.