During the 2017 Sales GPS executive workshop, I covered why and how field sales must evolve to meet the changing needs of today’s buyers. During my presentation, I talked about research IRCG conducted for HARDI, the distributor association that serves the heating, air-conditioning and refrigeration industries. I also talk about it during my upcoming webcast on The Changing Role of Field Sales.
I’ve shared this research many times, and I’ll keep sharing it until people take the key takeaway to heart: that a salesperson’s ability to disrupt the current supplier of a product through their own determination is extremely low. The HARDI research found that only 2 percent of products were switched out due to a hard-charging sales rep coming in and selling a better solution, but a whopping 9 percent was due to a supplier failure, which HARDI termed a Critical Selling Event or CSE.
A CSE is outside of the control or influence of a sales rep, so distributors’ best sales reps (and technical specialists and inside reps) – are winning by doing two things:
- Taking care of customers so they never have a reason to leave.
Distributors that design specialized sales roles that fit what their customers really want may find that their field salespeople going forward will play a more consultative role. They will work to broaden the customer’s contacts within the distributor’s organization, making that new customer stickier with each new connection. If you cut churn, you’ll see immediate return on your investment without adding any new customers.
- Capitalizing on your competitors’ mistakes by being there to save the day.
Find out how your customers shop and buy, and use that data to design a sales model that meets those needs, ensuring that you are always there for your customers when they need you. For example, a field account manager role might focus on business solutions and the relationship, spending more than 80% of his time in the field and attempting to intercept more than 75% of the available CSEs. A more transactional customer service rep or inside sales rep role could support those field account manager-driven customer relationships while a technical specialist could support those customers on an as-needed basis.