A couple of months ago, I was talking to a sales VP at a computer peripherals manufacturer about SalesQB’s sales planning services. She was excited about the fact that we could help her sales reps bridge the gap between their products and their customer’s business issues. But, one of her comments left me thinking. She said, “Our industry is rapidly moving to a solution selling model and, now, we are all about business process improvement.”

Over the past 15 years, sales reps have effectively sold business process improvement products / services (viz. ERP, CRM, SCM etc.) worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Business process reengineering (BPR) was the mantra that was chorused by software / hardware vendors, industry analysts, academia and management consulting firms during the 1990s. The idea looked great on paper and spawned huge process reengineering projects among large and mid-sized companies. Today, most analysts will agree that not all the results that BPR promised have indeed been delivered. In fact, I would argue that the web 2.0 trend is helping us move in the other direction, away from consolidation and best practices to smaller, nimble, personalized services that cater to niche audiences,

The undercurrent here is that industry sectors that have lagged the solution selling cycle are very easily seduced by the BPR value proposition. But it is too little, too late. Yes, end-users and mid-management decision makers might still be receptive to process improvement pitches, but it is now very difficult to make a board-room sale with a BPR value proposition. Executives have a “been-there, done-that”, lackadaisical attitude towards BPR. What executives do care about today are hard KPIs (key performance indicators) that directly impact them. For example, a sales VP cares about deal closure rates, average sales cycle length, sales support costs and new rep ramp-up time. A sales VP today doesn’t care much about improving his sales process or methods.

So, a word of advice for reps who are still selling BPR solutions. Identify your executive sponsor, figure out what KPIs he loses sleep over and develop a value proposition that enables him to improve his KPIs. You will dramatically improve your deal closure rates!

Let me know what you think.


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