At the close of a two day sales strategy and training event with a client last week, the question was asked whether Buyers go through similar preparation and training. Although we made the joke that we were doing the same work with their Buyers next week, there is a certain reality to the level of professionalism, training and certification on the Buyer side. The Purchasing Profession has certifications, standards and training that is outpacing what is going on in the world of Sales.

As we have previously written, Sales Leaders and Reps are more commonly moving into Do-It-Yourself (DIY) modes as Sales Methodology, Sales Process and the corresponding Sales Training has become far less common. Hiring is focused on “job ready” resources who can hit the ground running based on their industry experience and network of contacts. This is a cause and effect of companies not having a common way to on-board new people and train them in their way of doing things. In general terms it is because most companies do not have one.

To link these two conversation paths, Purchasing is getting more sophisticated in their approach to buying goods and services in an increasingly complex world. They have immense pressure on them to reduce costs coupled with increasing complexity in the types of things they are being asked to procure. At a tactical level (also human nature), with increasing complexity, Buyers will try and simplify, which results in commoditization. Commoditization helps drive down cost. Sales has a similar problem in that complexity is also increasing. Complexity not only in their solutions, but in attempting to understand and differentiate in the buying process. As prospective clients increase governance (RFP’s), layers of decision making to reach consensus, and become more risk averse, you could argue that their level of preparation is increasing. As Sales Leaders or Sales Reps, are we keeping pace?

In most organizations that we talk to, there is no consistent approach to how teams prepare or engage in battle. Inconsistent approaches lead to inconsistent results, which is a root cause of why less than half of Sales Reps achieve their quotas. Then couple this with the hyper-competition in most markets and get a clearer view of why win rates are declining, cost of sale is increasing, sales cycle length is increasing and deals become harder to predict.

Sales is one of the largest professions in the world, but there is an increasing need for improved process, structure, tools and training to keep pace with rapidly increasing complexity both with their Buyers and in their competitive markets.



June 13, 2013

Very true. At a meeting today, the sales leader told me that the are seeing 3rd party firms running the purchasing process in their industry for the first time ever. What used to be a relationship driven sale is increasingly becoming an "auction with the lowest bidder winning the business. Talk about commoditization!


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