Bruce Merrifield, President — Merrifield Consulting
•competitive strategy •sales practices •management strategies •how to compete with AmazonSupply •new opportunities for distribution industry •sales management •sales management styles in distribution •distribution industry sales management •sales training
Wednesday, May 09, 2018—Do you expect your salesmen to act as "one man bands"? In this video interview, Randy MacLean sits down with Bruce Merrifield to discuss how the most successful companies are adopting specialized sales functions.
"We're seeing a lot of specialization in the sales force, and it's having a major impact on the success of our clients and other companies in our view," Randy explained. "Specialization has provided a significant advantage to the companies using it, especially over those companies who have never even heard about it."
"The idea could be seen as an extension of service models," Bruce added. "When a WayPoint client starts using our service, they break their customers into three piles each with its own model. You have an enterprise model where an entire team works on an account, a standard model, and a very bare-bones model for minnows."
"Of course, this takes things a bit further," Randy said. "Most companies recognize the value of having people who specifically handle inside sales, outside sales, and counter sales. In this case, rather than rely on one salesperson to handle every aspect of the sales process, that role is broken up in multiple, smaller pieces."
Many companies have salespeople who only do 1 or 2 presentations a week because those salespeople are busy handling the various other parts of the job. However, if you have a person or team to specially handle each one of those functions (and only that function) – such as prospecting, setting up appointments, responding to customer complaints, making collections calls, and such – suddenly that salesperson who is really good at presentations can go from being able to deliver 2 presentations a week to 20 presentations a week!
The obvious advantage to this system is that you're having a salesperson highly skilled in one specific area working ONLY on that one specific thing. After all, salespeople are often asked to handle 15 or 20 different parts of their job and no salesperson in good in every area. This specialization of labor allows salespeople to shine in their brightest area and streamlines the process so everybody is very efficient at their designated task. For instance, a person who does nothing but prospecting quickly becomes very good at prospecting and will outperform salespeople who only prospect part of the time.
"In all of human endeavors, there's a good deal of specialization," Randy said. "We couldn't have the lifestyle that we do without specialization, whether it's farmers growing our food or factories producing our clothes. The only place where this hasn't been the case is sales."
"There are still a lot of companies that hire the most capable, most persuasive salespeople they can find and then waste those salespeople's talents by expecting them to do their own prospecting, line up their own calls, handle customer maintenance, and a variety of other tasks," Randy continued. "It just doesn't make sense."
The idea that a salespeople should be responsible for any number of administrative tasks goes back to the early days of sales when things were still very growth-oriented and distributors had very large sales forces. Rather than let people go as growth began to slow down, companies tried to find things for their sales people to do. In other cases, it's because the technology wasn't available to streamline some of these processes.
The old sales model is completely dysfunctional by today's standards. Companies that still rely on this system will find themselves outpaced by competitors using a more specialized sales force.
For more information about Bruce Merrifield, visit: www.merrifieldact2.com
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