Insights- Are you building your platform for the future



Can you answer these three questions?

  • Do you know the difference between serving, attending type of selling and creative type of selling?
  • Is it true that chance and improvisation has more impact on getting more orders than careful planning?
  • Should primary basis to decide sales actions ahead be ‘customer-by-customer-review’ or ‘enquiry-by-enquiry-review’?

Can you solve the following three problems?

  • Kavita Oils manufactures a variety of lubricating oils. These are industrial consumables required by the Engineering Industry. The company has concentrated on Mumbai Customers over years and has established itself there very well. Now they want to expand into the neighbouring markets of Rest of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Adequate field salesforce has been put in place by now. What should the company do to carry out this geographical expansion most systematically?

  • Kaushik Distributors have got a new dealership of carbide inserts and tools from M/s Sophisticated Tooling, USA. Competitors are well established Swedish and German companies. Mr. Kaushik is the owner and he has employed 10 application engineers for selling and technical service. During his survey of the market he found that practically every Customer uses at least a little quantity of carbide inserts from M/s Sophisticated Tooling. Few Customers also used their tools, and assemblies. Almost nobody considered M/s Sophisticated Tooling for Complex Solution requirement.

    Kaushik’s strategy is to increase consumption of inserts first and get a quick foothold even at low margins. Then penetrate the tools and assembly markets within 6 months. After a couple of years he hopes to get some high value Solutions business.

    How can he plan this? What instructions should he give his salespeople? How should he monitor and review the progress?

  • Elegant Ceramic Tiles is a 50 year old well established company. With margins in the ceramic tiles business under pressure, the company decided to diversify into new, high-margin businesses with home styling as a theme. One of the new businesses is Elegant Kitchens, sold to the luxury flat owners in premium housing schemes in A and B towns of India.

    Typically, the prospective Customer is visited by the Sales Assistant, who after motivating her to consider the modular kitchen as a concept, helped her to choose whether L shaped, parallel, straight, U shaped or island type of kitchen would be best suited for layout of flat. Then the lady of the house is guided to decide about specifications of cooking area, cleaning area, storage area and preparation area. By feeding this data into the laptop Sales Assistant comes up with the short list of beautiful kitchen models to choose from.

    During first half of first year, the selling processes have been well set and reasonable data on prospects has been collated. At the end of the first half year, the Sales Director called for first meeting of entire team.

    She started the meeting with the agenda as ‘Actions for Next Year Targets of Sales’. Some of the Sales Assistants protested mildly and said that first everybody should discuss how to maximize current year sales. (Their commissions depend on it). Sales Director said that while she can understand their concern, the sales volume of current year is almost a foregone conclusion and now is the right time to focus on next year sales, particularly the first half.

    What did she mean?

Tonnes of crude oil and gas are available under the ocean bed. Yet, oil does not pop up from where it is. An oil company has to search for oil reserves and then drill from a platform to whatever depth is necessary. When done well, the crude springs out. To an Oil Company, building and managing a strong platform means identifying probable sites under the ocean where oil is likely to be available, then building a base at the site where all of the Company’s resources will converge to do various activities that will tap the potential that’s underneath. In another context, the launch platform for a space ship, is where all the efforts of the Space Agency converge, for a perfect lift-off.

So too, in a Business, a Sales Platform™ is where all efforts of the Sales & Sales Support Teams converge to explore the potential opportunity that is available in an industry. Seasoned Sales Professionals understand that opportunities or leads do not pop-up in front of them. They have to identify or discover a potential lead, and then nurture the potential for a sale opportunity to show up. Fundamental to the role of a Salesperson is the ability to generate leads that go to build and manage a strong Sales Platform™. This insights document briefly addresses how this is done. To this effect, it raises some important questions that provoke thinking around how your Organization manages discovery of and extraction from sales opportunity.

CREATIVE SALES EFFORTS VERSUS SERVING OR ATTENDING SALES EFFORTS ONLY

Traditionally, Salespeople are used to managing opportunities that come their way. Heinz Goldmann defined the role of a Salesperson as follows: “To make a sale happen when there would have been none without him or her”. Opportunity Creation or Lead Generation, needs to be part of the Salesperson’s job.

.. To make a sale happen when there would have been none without him or her..
ARE CUSTOMERS AND OPPORTUNITIES MANAGED?

Does the tool that you use today - be it the Sales Funnel, be it Hot, Warm, Cold classification or be it a good sales automation CRM – help you to manage all Customers well? If the answer is not a firm ‘yes’, do you want to manage all Customers well first so that opportunities will follow?

VALUE OF THE SALESPERSON

Creating an opportunity gives your Salesperson a possibility to identify potential of your services for the Customer and thus add value – for the Customer. Hence focus of your sales management should be in building Customer base for future results; rather than merely serving the enquiries received that were firmed up fully by the Customers.

..focus of your sales management should be building Customer base for future results, rather than merely serving enquiries received..

How does one do this?

SALES PLATFORM™

This is achieved by breaking down your total Customer base into 4 categories and constantly monitoring the number of Customers in each such ‘box’. This is the proprietary tool of Mercuri International called Sales Platform™:

The composition of each of these boxes would change constantly, regardless of whether you put in conscious efforts to change it or not. You can influence it better though, through conscious competence instead of unconscious competence.

By viewing the Sales Platform™ on real time basis.. say every week, you can channel the direction of your lead generation and sales conversion efforts like number and type of sales visits, proposals and its follow up, and reference management, most optimally today, to create results for the future.

ANOTHER WAY TO LOOK AT SALES PLATFORM™

In principle, we are dividing the pipeline of prospects and Customers into six blocks of how interested they are in us. Four of these blocks need to be managed by the salesperson proactively.

Sounds an interesting way to look at own sales efforts? And efforts of your sales team.. right through the sales cycle from Lead Generation to Sales Closure?  In a digital world, when Customers progress through most of the Sales Journey without the involvement of a Sales Person,  the Sales Platform helps Sales People get proactive about moving Customers and Prospects through the Sales Funnel, without unpleasant shocks and surprises. This is the power of the Mercuri International proprietary tool – Sales Platform™ used by discerning Sales Organizations worldwide.

Questions for reflection

  • If you were to draw the Sales Platform™ ‘Box’, to show the proportion of effort required, what would be the dimensions of your 3 sub sections other than Universe of Prospects? Are these okay?
  • If you were to apply this to different products (or product groups), how would these diagrams look?
  • What instruction, direction or plan, if any, is given to your Sales Team to plan their volume of effort into the different parts of the Sales Platform™?
  • How do you monitor and measure the levels of sales effort put into the different parts of the Sales Platform™?
  • What Sales Platform™ building or maintaining objectives do you set for your Sales Team?
  • What quantifiable systems or lists you have for identifying the Market Platform for the individuals in your Sales Team?
  • How do you identify accurately how many prospects are there in the Working Platform of your Sales Team?
  • How do you identify accurately the value of the business these prospects could mean potentially to your company?
  • How do you evaluate what the lead conversion probabilities are for your company winning this business?
  • How do you evaluate how long this potential business lead will take to convert to a sale... to come to fruition?
  • What is the annual dissipation rate of your Buying Platform? What drives your Customer Attrition?
  • What does this mean in turnover terms?
  • What systems do you use to quantify this?
  • How much of this year’s or next year’s business should come from the Buying Platform, including repeat purchases where possible?
  • What implications does this have on Customer Acquisition, Lead Generation and Lead Conversion actions in Market and Working Platforms?
  • What kind of Brickwall building activities do you do towards Customer Retention in your company? 
  • Other than the Sales Department, who else has a specific role in Brickwall building activity, towards Customer Retention?

You may have some of the above questions as pressing needs of the day today. Answering them involves taking Mercuri Sales Platform™ as concept and converting it into working tools in the form of appropriate systems, techniques, methods for day-to-day work of your sales team.

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