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  • Writer's pictureCharlie Beveridge

Re-skilling Sales teams is the lazy answer - the REAL question is: are expectations of Sales right?


I don’t disagree with McKinsey, but I do draw conclusions from the same stats differently. Their article[1] states that 97% of B2B sales organisations rank re-skilling as their top priority, and >50% believe their reps don't have the capabilities to succeed.


These stats are telling us that organisations are seeing a rather large problem within sales teams. They’re seeing skills and confidence gaps that need to be addressed. And McKinsey’s take on this is that sales teams should be re-skilled in new things (like data analysis), they should have a stronger focus on the customer (meaning more research), and that they should also be incentivised differently (yearly not quarterly).


I don’t know about you, but I find these figures alarming. If confidence in sales teams is really this low, how has it got this bad? Is it really the fault of the sales teams? Mustn’t there be fault somewhere other than the sales teams? Who’s hiring them? Who’s setting their objectives? Who’s training them? Who’s setting the expectation of what they should do? Who’s empowering them to achieve expectations?


If organisations act on McKinsey’s advice, their sales teams are going to become multi-dimensional. Time will be taken away from selling to re-skill in traditionally non-sales skills - like data analysis, and research. Sales' lives will be materially impacted when compensation schemes are updated to reflect a shift in the sales horizon.


But before any of these changes are put into effect, we really should address one question.

Is it even possible to find a person who is a big:

  • relationship-builder, and

  • numbers-competer


as well as being:

  • technically-fascinated,

  • delivery-orientated, and

  • customer detail-obsessed?


Can these traits really all co-habit naturally in sales individuals?


Are the people who are best at forming relationships with customers really going to thrive in an environment where they are also expected to have strong data analysis skills, as well as research skills that develop detailed knowledge of their customer environment, and technical skills that help them explain how an implementation would work?


In my experience, this mix of qualities isn’t impossible to find, but it’s certainly not common. Some of the very best sales people I have worked with do have both the ability to empathise with customers, form bonds and build trust, as well as the ability to dig deep, really question details and simplify technical complexities. But this trait mix is rare. And if every software company in the world is looking for it, it’s not going to be possible for them all to find it.

So there has to be another solution.


What if sales teams have actually just become a scapegoat in the modern ‘sales’ world - and in reality, the problem is somewhere within the organisation instead? The organisation is expecting sales to evolve in whichever way is trending in the customer market. And it expects that that evolution takes place through things like sales re-skill and amended compensation schemes.


But what if the organisation’s expectation of sales could or should have been different to begin with? The expectation could instead have been that sales should capitalise on their natural strengths, and that any gap between these natural strengths and the evolving requirements of their job will be plugged with supportive action from the organisation. Supportive action that empowers sales to operate effectively in the new context, but that doesn’t require a total shift in personality profile or fundamental skillset.


What if the organisation could believe that sales are going to continue to be great at what they’re supposed to do (which is build relationships and be competitive with achieving targets), and that they could also be even greater when provided with something that truly, and rapidly, empowers them, with little additional effort or time needed on their part?

That “something” would look like:

  1. Ready-made customer research - i.e. head-turning stats and insights

  2. Ready-made storylines, personalised to customer (why the product is the solution they specifically need)

  3. Ready-made simplified explanation of how the product works

  4. Ready-made implementation plan to make moving forwards a reality

Sales are being expected to do all of this themselves because no one else in the organisation has both the ability and bandwidth to do it - let alone the remit. But expecting sales to do it is going to detract from them spending time on what they’re good at (and let’s face it, what they were hired to do).


So that’s the gap Expedeck fills. In short: Expedeck empowers sales with the information their customer needs to see, without sales needing to spend additional effort or re-skill. Expedeck generates customer-specific insight, curates a story that positions your product uniquely as the best solution within that customer’s context, and then presents it in pitch decks, blogs and whitepapers that include business-friendly explanations of your technical product, how it fits within an organisation’s existing product set, and how it can be implemented.


Imagine if Sales were empowered with that ready-made, personalised content for every single customer - whilst spending 100% of their time on building relationships and reaching targets. That could be a very powerful sales function.


References

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/capabilities/growth-marketing-and-sales/our-insights/future-of-b2b-sales-the-big-reframe?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social&utm_content=ap_75com6eu10

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