In recent decades, sales representatives for manufacturers have relied on their individual talents to prospect new sales leads, develop relationships with customers, and close deals. For many strong sellers, their product knowledge and emotional intelligence was enough to fill the sales pipeline, generate hefty commissions, and satisfy managements prescribed sales targets.
Today, the rules of engagement for sales have changed, and ‘lone ranger’ salespeople are no longer as effective as they used to be. Today’s hyper-connected digital economy has provided consumers with fast access to information that helps them make informed purchase decisions without having to rely on the expertise that sales reps used to provide.
Sales representatives' new formula for success is collaboration with product and marketing teams to understand market dynamics, consumer behaviour, and preferences to build broader solutions that add value for their customers. Sales presentations, sample kits and show rooms have given way to critical thinking, exercises in judgment, technology, and networking to generate business, and build and position broader solutions for customers.
The transactional aspects of sales are disappearing. Brent Adamson, and Matthew Dixon, co-Authors of the seminal book ‘The Challenger Sale’ have documented an extraordinary shift in the relationship between individual achievement and business unit profitability in the article ‘Why Individuals No Longer Rule on Sales Teams’. This is a good read that emphasises why manufacturers must embrace a more flexible and collaborative approach to sales that focuses on insight, judgment and networking.