Category Management: Teaching Ju-Jitsu to Your Sales Organization!!!


Have you often wondered what the sales organization from your suppliers is going through when dealing with you?  Does it change if the supplier is an incumbent?  A new supplier?  Now let’s think about how your sales organization has to deal with the sourcing organization of your customers (especially if you’re in the B2B world)?  Did you ever stop and think that your sales organization could use a lot of help in learning how the sourcing process works and how to deal with the sourcing organizations that they face?  DID YOU EVER STOP AND THINK THAT THERE IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TO CREATE SIGNIFICANT COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE FOR YOUR COMPANY BY WORKING WTH YOUR SALES ORGANIZATION AND HELPING THEM BECOME MORE COMPETITIVE???        

We were approached by the CEO of a major division of one of the world’s largest advertising agencies to work with their Business Development (“BD”) executives to help them navigate this group called “Strategic Sourcing” that they kept running into and were losing deals left and right.  We delivered a highly successful 3 day workshop for them which led to many successful Business Development cycles for them.

Here were some of the challenges that they had:

  • Tremendous waste of marketing and sales expenditures
  • Inconsistent customer messaging
  • Poor or delayed sales readiness
  • Fewer sales calls as a result of protracted sales preparation time
  • Less effective selling dialogues
  • Higher cost, lower revenues, shrinking margins

So, set up a discussion with you sales executive and see if they have similar challenges?  We then convinced the BD group to rethink some basic concepts about their Value Proposition:

  • Value is dependent on the person
  • There are only two perspectives that
    cause Prospects* to buy something:

    • The need to reduce something like costs, time, effort,
      or risk
    • The need to increase something like revenue, quality, productivity, or competitive advantage
  • Value can be experiential, emotional, logical or financial
  • Value is driven by change
  • Strengths, capabilities, assets, etc.
    should improve
  • Costs, liabilities and weaknesses should diminish
  • The more a solution can drive tangible change, the stronger the value proposition is
  • Intangible change drivers* also need to be fully documented

By the way, everything that I’ve mentioned above is also relevant for you in your role to “sell” to your internal stakeholders!!! 

We then moved right into how to deal with their customer’s sourcing organizations by reminding them first that- “Sourcing is usually the most disliked group in the organization.  They rank right up there with the IRS and Internal Audit” 😊.  We told them their job was to figure out how to use that to their advantage and spent a lot of time going through very specific techniques to do just that.  For example, we shared the following:

Top Ten Perceptions of Strategic Sourcing from their Internal Stakeholders –

#10:  Users have no input into the Strategic Sourcing process

# 9:  No consideration is given to incumbent suppliers or customers

# 8:  The Strategic Sourcing process tries to dictate business strategy

# 7:  Strategic Sourcing makes all of the decisions

# 6:  Supplier negotiations are adversarial

# 5:  Best purchasing practices are not considered as part of the process

# 4:  The Strategic Sourcing process seeks only short-term cost savings

# 3:  Quality is the trade-off for better prices

# 2:  Only the lowest cost suppliers are selected

# 1:  Real dollar savings are not achieved

By knowing these, the salespeople could figure out how to better navigate the internal politics.  Similarly, we walked the BD organization through the Sourcing process and how to navigate their way through that.

So, talk to your sales organization and help them understand that you can help them increase their revenue AND margin. 





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