The Changing Sales Model

Mike Philie, vice president, Business Advisory Team, NAPL.

Not everything has changed has it? For many years, we’ve heard of the need to change the sales approach, as well as the need to broaden the products and services offered to clients. With that cry has come much resistance and frustration in really understanding what to change to, what should the new model look like and how will it be profitable. Perhaps some of the frustration comes from applying overall absolutes to these objectives.

There probably are core portions of your business that have not changed in any dramatic way. You may also have client relationships that haven’t changed either and, with the exception of reduced client budgets, the relationship remains solid. Additionally, by really understanding your clients’ businesses, you may have recognized that the methods they are using to communicate and get their messages heard have expanded.

To many salespeople, this becomes a threat as their focus was on selling print products. If their focus was helping the client to be more successful, then they’ve probably taken this diversification on as an opportunity.

On the other side of the ledger there are some clients that, for many reasons, you need to filter off your list and, in doing so, will need to replace them with new opportunities. Unfortunately, these new opportunities may not look like the old ones.

You may find that you’re not able to attract this new business with the same approach and skills as you’ve used in the past, since communication and buying styles have changed and the competition is intense. Another hurdle is that many successful salespeople have been consumed with nurturing and maintaining existing relationships [and bringing a lot of work into the business] to the degree that they’ve lost their ability to create new business opportunities. And even when they try, their business development skills and patience aren’t where they should be.

To summarize: you have some core existing business that you need to profitably manage and grow by going deeper and wider into their needs; and you have some clients—as well as activities, no doubt—that you’ll need to walk away from. Using Toffler’s “learn, unlearn and relearn” concept (Alvin Toffler, author of “Rethinking the Future”), it may be difficult to take on the new challenges of selling and growing profitable business without first unlearning some of the strategy and tactics that may no longer apply to your new opportunities.

For more information on this topic, check out this session at the upcoming Vision 3 Summit:

Related Content