There are multiple factors that contribute to a sales force’s effectiveness and profitability. In the past, this often relied on each sales rep’s drive, determination, people skills and even charisma. Today, perhaps more than anything else, it’s a matter of mentality. Does your sales force invite change, adapt to new strategies, and adopt new tools and techniques? If yes, you have a learning sales force and reason for optimism. If no, you have cause for concern.
As we move deeper into the 21st century, the sales landscape is changing like never before – companies can no longer expect to advance or cement their competitive positions on the basis of past performance or the same old sales strategies. In fact, the number of companies falling out of a top three ranking in their industries increased from 2% in 1960 to 14% in 2008.
What does this mean for today’s sales forces?
Assuming stability and predictability in a dynamic business world is a recipe for disaster. Companies stubborn and resistant to change are not only setting themselves up for decline, but potentially extinction.
Adaptability is the New Black
In the 1990s, reps might have been able to get by or even dominate with machismo alone – but it’s a completely different world in 2016. Getting ahead and staying ahead is largely contingent on having a finger on the pulse of your industry. Couple that with an aptitude for self-education and professional adaptability and you put yourself in position to gain an edge on the competition.
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Antiquated sales philosophies and being great at a few things just won’t cut it these days. After all, what happens when the things your team is great at are irrelevant and there’s a newer, sexier sales technique?
To truly gain any momentum in an often-volatile business world, having an always-learning sales force has arguably become more important than simply being great at sales. Or as Martin Reeves of the Boston Consulting Group put it, “Instead of being really good at doing some particular things, companies must be really good at learning how to do new things.”
It’s About More Than Just Products and Services
Sure you can tweak your products and services or even create new ones – but that’s only going to take you so far. To truly prosper in a tumultuous environment, you’ve got to dig deeper and be willing to change your strategies, business model and even methodology.
Having a learned and learning sales force is about adopting a mindset that welcomes change rather than simply enduring it. This doesn’t mean changing simply for the sake of change, but to establish a more adept and better-equipped sales force.
The Always Learning Sales Force: A State of Perpetual Experimentation
What’s the main thing that tech juggernauts Apple and Google have in common? They’re constantly experimenting. They welcome it, they embrace it – they thrive on it.
Of course, not all experiments are successful. Just look at Google’s failed attempt to rival Facebook with Google+. But at the end of the day, these brands not only remain relevant but dominate.
For a sales force to stay ahead of the curve, it’s almost a necessity to establish a culture that values creativity and experimentation. A learning sales force gets past the fear of failure and moves boldly into the future.
Using the Right Tools
Technology can be a double-edged sword because it’s killed certain industries (e.g. video rentals and record stores) and put people out of work, but also provides endless opportunities for those who know how to harness it correctly.
CPQ software is one such technology capable of propelling you to success. Once implemented, a CPQ solution will streamline the sales process while improving order accuracy and enhancing the overall customer experience. Being open to new technology and using the right tools is one of the best ways to prevent your business from stagnating.
The bottom line is this: adaptability and an always-learning mentality is the single most important trait to look for and cultivate in your sales reps. When you’re dealing with a constantly changing market, having an adaptable sales force can make all of the difference, nourishing the longevity and prosperity of your company.
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