27 April 2006

Sales - the end result

The key function of the business is to sell something to someone in order to make a living. The old saying used to be “If you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door.” It doesn’t matter if that was ever an accurate description of the way markets behave – it isn’t an accurate picture now.

Whether you choose to use direct or indirect resources will depend to a degree on the maturity of the market. Direct resources tend to be effective in building market awareness for a new product or service, developing initial interest with customers and developing long-term relationships with key accounts. Distributors and other indirect channels are less effective at building market awareness, but they can represent a low cost resource which quickly increases the reach of the business. Indirect channels tend to work best with products where the product is well understood and the primary issues are availability and price.

I have made a number of posts about the Value Proposition. The Value Proposition is the amount of money which buyers could potentially save by using the new product or service. The Value Proposition needs to be backed up by a detailed assessment of market positioning so that the salespeople (and it doesn’t matter if they are direct or indirect salespeople) know where they should be targeting and where they are preferentially attractive to buyers.

That said, an excellent Value Proposition and well-thought through positioning still don't guarantee success. It doesn’t matter if you rely on your own team of direct salespeople, commission agents or distributors. You need to back up your sales efforts with a solid sales management process which delivers:
  • tracking and measurement of opportunities
  • mobilisation of support teams, particularly in relation to teamwork and communications
  • evaluation of win/loss rates
  • performance management
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