A sales story – the emerging importance of positive deviants

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In today’s business environment a number of markets are going through transformational changes. The organizations that comprise such a market are changing what they buy, how they buy, and what they are willing to pay for it. Health care is a good case in point.

If you are a company that is selling into one such market, the winning formula is seldom about doing a better job doing what you have been doing. You need to adjust and adapt your sales strategy and the skills of your sales team. In a transformational market future success is about sales innovation.

Historically best practice analysis has been one very effective approach for improving the skill set of a sales team. In the way of a definition a best practice is something your top performers have historically done differently than your average performers.

However if you are faced with the situation where future success depends on doing something significantly different than what you have been doing, than the notion of identifying past top performers and their best practices becomes somewhat suspect.

An alternative approach is to seek out Positive Deviants. Let’s define a Positive Deviant as a sales rep who already has some of the desired behaviors to succeed in the new selling environment. The idea is to locate these individuals and then observe, codify, and build on what they are doing.

In the way of searching, your top performers are probably not Positive Deviants. What is more likely is Positive Deviants are the ones who are trying out new and innovative ideas and practices.

It is therefore unlikely that you can identify these sales reps by simply looking at summary sales figures. The best approach is to appoint your best sales managers to travel with sales people who you believe may fit the bill and have the managers identify selling ideas and practices that seem to be effective in the new environment.

If you are selling in a market that is undergoing transformational changes, when the dust settles there will likely be a new set of winners and losers. The winners will be those that have the capacity to adjust and adapt their sales strategies and the build a new set of innovative selling skills that their sales teams master.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Richard Ruff
For more than 30 years Richard Ruff has worked with the Fortune 1000 to craft sales training programs that make a difference. Working with market leaders Dick has learned that today's great sales force significantly differs from yesterday. So, Sales Momentum offers firms effective sales training programs affordably priced. Dick is the co-author of Parlez-Vous Business, to help sales people have smart business conversations with customers, and the Sales Training Connection.

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