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A Role for Sales People in 2012 – Customer Experience

Blog post by on October 18, 2011 Editor's Pick 2 Comments

Is there a role for sales and sales management in 2012 and beyond? The traditional sales tasks in prospecting, pitching and closing seem to be redundant now the Internet has enabled customers to do their own research, and marketing to do the pitching.

Maybe 2012 is all about transitioning the role of revenue generation from sales people to web pages. Maybe the new sales tasks are all about Keywords, Content and Adwords auctions. Who needs the additional costs of sales operations when the customer simply wants the lowest price, and the reps and the managers, add no value.

This isn’t a pretty picture for sales people, is it. We seem past our sell by date, redundant in our own time, like so many other professionals replaced by computers.

It’s time for sales people to sell to their own bosses, setting a new role for themselves, and equipping their companies with a new competitive advantage – customer experience.

As much as the bean counters try to commoditise products and services, they fail. Their mistake is believing buyers are only interested in price. But customers only ever buy on price when they don’t care what they’re buying.

In the vast majority of cases customer experience is as significant in the buying decision as price, if not more so. Buying on the Internet is a very sterile experience. There’s no enjoyment, and not much security. There’s very little advice, and a lot of risk. When businesses sacrifice customer experience in pursuit of lower costs they lose control of their markets. The reverse is true. When businesses invest in customer experience they increase control and as result achieve more sales, at higher prices and margins.

The new role for sales in 2012, when so much of the traditional tasks have been automated, needs to be customer experience. Sales people help customers feel good about buying decisions, and that’s what will make the difference between winners and losers in 2012 and beyond.

If your CEO doesn’t agree take her to your nearest Apple store, and ask her to tell you why Apple is the most successful technology company in the world, ever.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

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2 Responses to A Role for Sales People in 2012 – Customer Experience

  1. Andrew Rudin October 19, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    Your blog had me shifting around at my desk, alternately pounding my chest in emphatic agreement, or scratching my head in disbelief. Which is a good thing, because boring is bad.

    I’ll start with emphatic agreement: customers are the new sales force. We’ve dabbled with this idea by creating programs to teach us how to sell through reference accounts. And I have anecdotal confirmation, as I wrote about in a recent blog, What do Tech Buyers Really Think of Salespeople? Three CIO’s Tell All. But I believe the customer-as-salesperson movement is now full-on–for four reasons:

    1. Prospects gain the most valuable buying insight from customers.
    2. They do it because they can.
    3. They’re sick and tired of sales hype that doesn’t transfer to experience.
    4. The consequences of making bad buying decisions aren’t trending toward being trivial. They can tank a career.

    And now my quibble: buying on the Internet is not always a sterile experience, although it can be. There are some websites I’ve visited that are so incredibly fun to use, that I’ve readily returned to purchase additional products.

    They’re rare–but maybe like the Apple Store, they’re designed by salespeople, and not by engineers . . .

    . . . And a quick post-script while I’m at it . . . if you’re considering investing in a sales training program, consider that the effectiveness of your sales force will be governed by what your customers say about you. If you want revenue growth, salesforce competency and happy vocal customers go hand in hand. One without the other is a formula for failure.

  2. Steven Reeves October 24, 2011 at 4:39 am #

    Andrew, many thanks for taking the time to add your thoughts. I couldn’t agree with you more about the importance of customer referrals and recommendations.

    And of course for some things the Internet is close to perfect as a platform for selling, but it doesn’t afford the vendor any control over the conversation so the seller can’t spot where additional information, or reassurance, could add value.

    Happy customers make buyers feel comfortable about the risks involved in purchase decisions, and sales people can do the same thing, provided their bosses understand just how important that is.

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