Sales methodologies - Is there an approach that works well in commercial print sales?
Heard of 'Challenger Selling'? – There are dozens of selling ‘methodologies’ out there, many of which are re-workings of older styles that have been re-wrapped. One of the more recent approaches is ‘The Challenger Sale’ – perhaps not 100% original either, but it does provide a way to both test long standing customer relationships and take those relationships to a stronger place.
The authors say practically every B2B sales rep fits into one of the following categories:
▪ Relationship Builders focus on developing strong personal and professional relationships and advocates across the customer organization. They are generous with their time, strive to meet customers' every need, and work hard to resolve tensions in the commercial relationship.
▪ Hard Workers show up early, stay late, and always go the extra mile. They'll make more calls in an hour and conduct more visits in a week than just about anyone else on the team.
▪ Lone Wolves are the deeply self-confident, the rule-breaking cowboys of the sales force who do things their way or not at all.
▪ Reactive Problem Solvers are, from the customers' standpoint, highly reliable and detail-oriented. They focus on post-sales follow-up, ensuring that service issues related to implementation and execution are addressed quickly and thoroughly.
▪ Challengers use their deep understanding of their customers' business to push their thinking and take control of the sales conversation.
In my experience, an understanding of your customer’s business is almost always important in sales. However, using that understanding to push the customer’s thinking and potentially teach them something new about how their company can compete more effectively is conventionally not something a print supplier would do.
Using a word I’ve grown to dislike (through over use!) a ‘solution’ to a customer need is only part of the answer, the ‘Challenger’ approach is about asking your customer to trust you, to work collaboratively and to do something different to what your competitors are proposing.
When competing in a highly price-driven marketplace such as digital and litho print, the ‘Challenger’ approach appears to offer one way to intensify the value of your customer relationships.
Would be good to hear if other approaches have worked in this scenario and what the key components to making it work were. (Sales people? Marketing? New capabilities? Etc)
This is an interesting video that touches on some of these points.