Sales Enablement or the Rise of C-Rate Consultants?


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Technology companies are under pressure to accelerate growth and improve margins. However, the enterprise accounts these vendors sell into are increasingly viewing their offerings as commodities.

Most enterprise technology vendors are feeling these pressures and in a response to the colliding tectonic forces of accelerating growth, improving margins, and differentiating in increasingly competitive markets, one common strategic imperative employed by most firms is to retool their sales organizations.

In most cases, management wants their sales people to become “trusted advisors” to c-level executives. Sales people are brought in and through a “corporate car wash” trained in a day or two how to gain access and influence major executives.

Does this approach lead to “trusted advisor” level sales people?

Not according to emerging data showing a low return on investment for many firms who have implemented consultative sales models. Having a goal to engage decision-makers with deeper pockets is never an issue. However, sending people out into the field poorly equipped to have a value-added conversation with these higher level executives is a problem. We call this phenomenon the rise of the “C” rate consultants, and they are coming to a town near you.

What is a “C” rate consultant?

A “C” rate consultant is typically the by product of a poorly executed transition from a product selling culture to a solution oriented one. He or she is a sales person who is unable to effectively synthesize business information about a targeted account which is relevant to a particular topic, in context of a given executive’s perspective, and articulate specifically how their company can help that executive address those stated problems.

Because they are unable to achieve these outcomes, a “C” rate consultant takes up more of an executive’s valuable time and offers no more insight than their product centric peers. As a result, each c-rate consultant creates conflict with every executive they encounter. A sales force populated by “C” rate consultants contributes to some major problems such as: rising costs of sales, wasted marketing resources, slower than expected traction of corporate strategy, and stagnate organic growth.

Are you creating a crop of “c” rate consultants?

Unfortunately, the answer is probably yes.

Here are a five questions to help you determine if you might be retooling your sales force into “c” rate consultants.

  • How many people in your organization have ever held the position (CIO, CFO, etc) for a company you are looking to target? If that number is less than 30, how do you know you are getting enough of a sample size to build an engagement strategy to target that role?
  • How much access do you have within your client base to that targeted role? Does your organization assist these executives through the entire problem solving process, or typically engage at key points in time?
  • How do you develop hot button topics for that executive, and once you do, how do you maintain that information?
  • How do you connect executive level hot button issues with industry accepted best practices, and then relate that back to the specific capabilities your organization can bring to bear for that customer?
  • If you are creating this program, how do you validate what’s being said, and how do you make sure it’s different than what your competitors may offer?

For your sales teams to effectively execute go-to-market strategies which require elevated access, the information they use to engage with targeted executives must be: authentic, accurate, and actionable. Without that, you’re not really adding value and your sales teams are bound to become “c” rate consultants.

Scott Santucci
As a principal analyst at Forrester Research, Scott Santucci has deep knowledge and hands-on experience working cross-functionally with product, marketing, and sales teams to develop innovative and effective integrated programs designed to improve the entire revenue cycle.


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