This is Part 2 of a two-part interview with Steve Andersen, President and Founder of Performance Methods, Inc. (PMI). Part 1 is here.
Note: Please join Steve and me for a one-hour webinar, live on March 4, 2014 at 12:00 noon, ET. Steve will be discussing Customer Engagement Excellence.
Dave Stein: I must say, Steve, that you’ve provoked some interesting comments and discussion about the need to evolve sales training and get more focused and aligned with what really matters to the customer. Let’s turn our attention to what can be done and why this matters to sales leaders, sales managers and salespeople in 2014.
In our last discussion we talked about the need for suppliers to recognize this gap and begin evolving their sales and account management professionals to this new level of customer engagement. What do sales training firms need to do differently if they are going to earn a seat at the customer engagement table with their clients?
Steve Andersen: It will be interesting to watch how this unfolds, and based on experience from both sides of this table, I’m doubtful that most sales training firms will make this transition. Businesses are at their best being what they really are and the average sales training firm is all about sales training. Further, having interviewed and hired a number of people from within this industry, I believe that it also comes down to DNA and a willingness to change. The typical sales training firm is the last organization that should ever talk about change management – look at how little that industry has changed over the past 25 years!
DS: It sounds like customer engagement is not just about the supplier’s sales quota carrying individuals, but more about the organization on the whole. Since you’ve worked with a number of F500/G500 clients that are selling to F500/G500 customers, how do they approach customer engagement organizationally?
SA: There are companies that are doing this very well today, and if not the entire continuum of customer engagement, at least portions of the whole. Effective customer engagement has to be driven from the top, with senior leadership embracing the idea that it is no longer enough to hit the numbers and then move on to the next account. Where effective customer engagement is at its best is within organizations that believe in this at the highest levels, walk this talk themselves and then lead, manage and measure their customer-facing teams (sales, account management, customer service, marketing, product development…) accordingly.
DS: So Steve, what about the Customer? How do you believe they will react differently to those that are more engagement-oriented and a little less sales/control-oriented?
SA: Customers are tired of being sold to with the sales “tips and trick” of our grandfathers, and they have no use for suppliers that are only there to extract their budgets and then run to the next prospect. What they want is a collaborative relationship with a supplier that is in it for the long haul, and also willing to invest in the development of relationships that are more about value creation and co-creation. It’s amazing to me how many from the sales training space are running around talking about the death of relationships in sales (perhaps because the sales sliver of time is all they are focused on). It just shows how little they understand what their customers really expect from their most important suppliers. Over the next 10 years we will see more and more customers migrate to those suppliers that are more about engagement and less about controlling, manipulating and backing them into the “close the deal” corner – they will vote with their budget ballots.
DS: Finally, what can you offer to the organization that might be trying to understand how to gauge their “customer engagement excellence?” Any thoughts on how to get started?
SA: Absolutely. In the article that you referenced (“Raising the Bar: The Impact of Sales Training on Effective Customer Engagement”) we constructed a sales training impact assessment tool for this very purpose. We believe that there are six sales training “performance zones” that must be considered in determining how well sales training is driving effective customer engagement, and these are outlined in the article. But I will also add that even before assessment, the real question is one of heart and mind: you won’t get to effective customer engagement, much less customer engagement excellence, without a willingness and commitment to embrace some new ways of thinking. It’s time to begin “thinking like the customer” for a change.
Please join Steve and me for a one-hour webinar about Customer Engagement on March 4, 2014 at 12:00 noon, ET.
About Steve Andersen
Steve Andersen is President and Founder of Performance Methods, Inc. (PMI). He is the primary architect of PMI’s Keys to Effective Strategic Account Planning Methodology™, Integrated Opportunity Management Methodology™, Customer Engagement Methodology™, Collaborative Planning Methodology™ and SAM Portfolio™. Steve’s thought leadership in the sales performance industry is demonstrated through his long list of publications and work with many of the world’s largest corporations, and he is an active participant in the Strategic Account Management Association (SAMA) and SAMA’s Conferences, Universities and Academies worldwide.
About Performance Methods, Inc. (PMI)
PMI provides consulting and training services to assist clients in the design, development and deployment of customer engagement best practices. PMI’s unique approach provides clients with customized and integrated solutions consisting of sales processes, best practices and consultative selling skills. PMI has been selected by many of the world’s leading corporations as their sales best practices partner and has been widely recognized for the innovation, effectiveness and strength of its contemporary suite of customized sales performance solutions.
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