Creating a sales culture in the services sector

Creating a sales culture in the services sector

We've all seen the shift in profit from hardware/software to a services-based model. Some organisations have happily redefined their business, and others have fallen by the wayside, simply unable or unwilling to adapt to a new way of doing business.

Yet, it's common throughout many service-based IT companies to have a strong focus on process and delivery, and not so strong a focus on sales.

If you're a senior manager in an IT services organisation, and the culture of your organisation is not already focused strongly on sales, you're going to have to make the shift, sooner rather than later. If it doesn't, the truth is that your company won't remain competitive in its market.

So, what's involved in making an organisation sales focused, rather than results focused?

If your company is service-based, you need to:

1. Define what your business is in business to do. What are your company's core activities and non-core activities? This gives a newly trained salesperson the ability to say `no' to business that's not relevant (or profitable) to the central services of your organisation.

2. Define your company's competitive advantage. How do you want your clients to view your company when comparing you with the competition? This helps your salespeople answer the question, `Why should I buy your service?'

3. Work out the benefits clients will gain from buying your service. This helps salespeople make the transition from process- or delivery-focused language, into the language of outcomes and results.

4. Determine the characteristics of your company's ideal clients. What types of organisations most need your services? This information will help your sales force focus their efforts on the area where they will get the best return.

5. Get quality marketing and sales collateral and ensure your Web site remains current and competitive to give your salesforce the sense that they are selling a professional, sophisticated organisation.

6. Share the vision of your new, sales-focused organisation with your salespeople. Explain why the change of focus is necessary, how their roles will be altered, and any new reward systems. This gives everyone a clear purpose for doing what they're doing.

7. Implement a training program.

What sort of training?

Up to this point, all the work you've done ensures your training is focused on the real needs of your salesforce. The next step is to consider the various aspects of the sales process and determine where your first priorities are. The salesforce needs to learn a new, flexible way of communicating. They need to move from being solution focused, to needs and listening focused.

If your salespeople learn presentation skills, for example, they will be able to effectively introduce your company's credentials or relevant services to clients. Simply gaining these skills will boost the confidence of your sales team.

A selling skills program can help dev-elop face-to-face skills for meetings, to build rapport, uncover needs and client values, and position the sales representative for the next step in the sales process.

Jeff Sheard is sales director for Asia-Pacific of Rogen International. Reach Rogen at

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