Sales Essentials

Four Stage Sales Proficiency Model

Based on research from Holden LLC, the world of sellers can be broken-down as a four stage model of proficiency.

Order Takers

Stage 1 – Emerging Seller (pitching/pushing/communicating products and services)

Stage 2 – Solution Seller (positioning products and services with business value)

Demand Creators/Hunters

Stage 3 – Compete Seller (gaining political support from the influential buyers)

Stage 4 – Customer Advisor (involved in the buyer’s strategy and culture)

To successfully drive market share and customer loyalty, “Demand Creators” need the following organizational sales competencies:

  • Provide a Competitive Sales Strategy. Clearly understanding buyer’s future trends, simplifying complex situations, packaging into a single story, knowing who we are competing against, behavioral analytics (tracking of why we are winning or losing), etc.

  • Provide Unexpected Value. It is one thing to respond to stated buying criteria but another thing to provide value that they “needed” but didn’t ask for.

  • Gain Political Alignment. Building relationships with the right influential buyers who have the ability to create new company initiatives & budgets.

  • Overcome Today’s Challenges. In today’s complex business environment, sellers have to meet the following challenges: involvement of more decision makers (e.g. Heads of IT, Sales, Marketing, Legal, Security, etc.), cost and value justification, intensive convergence of competitors, etc.

“Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.” – Zig Ziglar

Sales Metrics

Below are example categories of business sales related metrics or key performance indicators (KPIs).

Achieving Quota/Closing More Deals – Percentage (%) of Deals Won, Lost, and No Decision (for each product category/portfolio) (e.g. 15% higher win rates)

Identifying new opportunities (e.g. 10% higher goal attainment)

Aligning solution to customer needs

Differentiating solution against the competition

Annual salesperson turnover rate

Reducing sales cycle time (e.g. 2.5% shorter cycle YOY)

Increasing average deal size (e.g. 3X the Average Deal Size)

Increasing contract renewals (e.g. 5% higher renewal rates)

Increasing satisfaction (e.g. 15% higher client satisfaction)

Sales Competencies

Consultative Selling. It’s the age of the customer, and digitally empowered buyers expect salespeople to have the skills and knowledge to deliver REAL value and solve complex problems—not just pitch their product. Serves as a trusted advisor to the customer throughout all phases of the sales cycle and project by developing understanding of the customer’s organization and technology environment. (article) (article) (article)

Large Size Organizations = Complex Products + Higher Spend + Consultative Sales Oriented

Small Size Organizations = Simple Products + Lower Spend + Transactional Sales Oriented

Territory / Module Management. Knowledge of and ability to prioritize customers based on immediate-to-long-term opportunity and to differentiate customers into meaningful groups and to establish interactions and service levels appropriate to each group.

Account Management. Knowledge of planning and managing the full relationship between the organization and its customers and understanding of practices, tasks, and tools and ability to provide services and support to key clients.

Competitive Differentiation. Differentiates company from its competitors in terms of solving the customer’s business problems.

Technology & Design Expertise. Develops and demonstrates up-to-date technical knowledge of company products, services, applications, including deep expertise of underlying technology.

Business & Financial Acumen. Knowledge, insight, and understanding of business concepts, tools, and processes that are needed for making sound decisions in the context of the company’s business; ability to apply this knowledge appropriately to diverse situations.

Operational Excellence. Ability to utilize assigned resources and leverage back-channel resources (individuals or teams) to achieve or exceed planned outcomes.

Customer-Centric Solution Development. Designs innovative solutions that solve customer business problems. Ability to understand the customer needs and design a solution. Knowledge of and ability to meet customer needs by offering appropriate solutions through customization utilizing both internal and third party providers (if needed) in an appropriate manner.  (article)

Vertical Expertise. Expertise in different industries such as Energy, Transportation/Logistics, Retail, Financial, Government, Education, Health

Types of Sellers