A brief history of sales

Sales techniques have always adjusted to economic and business trends. For example, the industrial revolution made products available in large volumes for the first time. This created the need for distributors to sell and stock inventory locally. In the ‘60s and ‘70s, corporate sales cycles were introduced by companies like IBM, General Electric, and General Motors. These commercial giants wanted goods sold on their timeline. Eventually purchasing agents railed against this sales technique and relationship selling was ushered in. In the 21st century, solution and consultative-based selling techniques were added. Today, in response to digitization, a new sales process I call enterprise selling has come into play.

Enterprise Selling

By definition, enterprise is a project or undertaking that is difficult or requires effort. It is also defined as a business or company. Enterprise selling is the business of capturing sales in today’s fast paced digital economy and it requires renewed effort.

An analysis

A simple SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat) analysis yields insight to the changes needed in the distributor sales force network. The Strength of the distributor is its local connection to the customer. Proximity allows for better communication and options for delivery from nearby warehouses and facilities. The largest Weakness for the independent distributor is its relatively small eCommerce presence. This can lead to the loss of market share. The bright spot is the Opportunity. As a result of their local relationship, distributors can offer significant and unique solutions to their customers’ needs. The Threat of market share loss to digitization can be mitigated with a rapid sales process adjustment.

Develop Relationships

Building on progressive insights, such as the writings of Roy Chitwood in World Class Selling and Matthew Dixon and Brent Adams in The Challenger Sales, Taking Control of the Customer Conversation, the next generation sales process must occur with collaborative partnerships. To recapture revenue lost to alternate channels and retain existing sales, a relationship among key influencers must be developed.

The Opportunity

You have the same sales opportunity today as you did pre-digitization, but you need a new plan of attack. Use enterprise selling to offer significant and unique solutions for your customers’ needs. Become a strategic partner to your customers. Get tips and tricks like the above in The Art of Sales books. Or subscribe to the FREE monthly articles here.