The Era of Hyper-Specialization in Sales

Marc Miller Uncategorized Leave a Comment


Just ten years ago, the cowboy seller was still in vogue. Picture a lone sales maverick, running every step of the selling process from A-Z.

Those days are GONE.

Right now, an information explosion is causing selling organizations to evolve into selling teams – closely resembling the highly-trained pit crews on a NASCAR motor track.

Call it the Era of Hyper-Specialized Selling.  But whatever you do, don’t ignore it.


 

Today, the modern sales org consists of a team of sellers, each with unique roles who efficiently pass single opportunities from one entity to its desired conclusion.  Each specialist executes within a sub-workflow of steps that align with the buyer decision journey.

Take Salesforce.com. Today, if you’re a Salesforce enterprise buyer, you’re likely to experience a dizzying series of “specialists” – from BDM to Account Executive to Sales Engineer to Prime Sales Engineers to Co-Prime Sales Engineers to Technical Architects to Customer Success Specialists.  You might also be going through an IGNITE consulting process aimed at helping you see the indispensable need for various cloud platforms.  And, there’s a good chance you’re being handled by many of those same titles, but within a vertical team focused entirely on your industry niche.

Buyers need a scorecard these days to keep track of all the players!

Hyper-specialization benefits the buyer just as much as the seller.  The buyer is now surrounded by experts who understand their needs and challenges rather than one smooth-talking “lone cowboy” seller.  It’s a positive change for all parties.

Then again, some things have not changed very much at all.

Organizations still equip their salespeople with individual, not team, selling tools in an era of hyper-complexity.

Early-cycle specialist salespeople are expected to go into a sales call armed with a provocative hypothesis, ask strategic questions, listen deeply – all while having an intelligent conversation and taking great notes.  Later, they must transpose this call data into a CRM for the not-yet-engaged team who will eventually need this data to move their own ball forward.  It’s simply too much, and the results show it.

To meet this challenge, there are powerful tools of choice to capture, debrief, and share these valuable conversations?

Choose from any of the following:

  1. Google Docs
  2. Word
  3. Excel
  4. Note-Taking Apps (Evernote, or any of a host of other individual apps)
  5. Pen & Paper (the norm in over 65% of sales calls)
  6. None of the above (yes, some salespeople take no notes at all!)

The problem is, regardless of your preferred preference, none of the above are team tools.

Until the team standardizes how they capture and share conversations, knowledge transfer will continue to suffer.  It’s like asking members of a pit crew to show up to a NASCAR event with their own individual tools and expecting to win the race.  Professionals standardize.

A recent landmark research study found that people are 80% confident in their ability to accurately recall important information from recent, critical events. The problem is that when those same people were tested for factual recall around those same events, they got over 60% of the answers wrong.

Compound this fact with the data on memory that indicates people forget over 52% of a conversation in an hour, and over 90% within a few days.  When normal memory is combined with misplaced confidence in recall ability, the end result is that a dangerous game of telephone is played out within selling teams.  This communication problem has many negative consequences for specialized sales organization:

  • missed opportunities
  • lost deals
  • misaligned presentations & proposals
  • re-work due to mistaken requirement documents
  • customer churn

In the case of Salesforce.com or many others who have a CRM to store call summary data, perhaps you’re thinking “that’s exactly what a CRM is for!”  The fallacy here is that the average 50 minute sales conversation generates at best a 50 word call summary in a CRM – a 99% data loss.

If you agree that lack of standardization is a major team communication hurdle, then the next step is to consider tools and platforms.  That’s where a commercial conversation manager comes into play to offer new visibility and 24/7 access to conversations throughout every stage of the selling process.

Hyper-specialization in selling is a trend that has just begun.  But, technology needs be applied if collaborative selling is to deliver its promise of better win rate, larger deals, and higher customer retention.

In this new age of team selling, good individual conversations that can be shared always trump great conversations that cannot.   Sales teams prove it every day – that we is smarter than me. 

 

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