April 28th 2008

Validation that sales/marketing processes and models need to change- Does yours?

It was mentioned awhile back that many sales organizations/professionals have a problem when customers self-serve on the Web and enter the sales process further along then they are used to. A “cookie -cutter” response and the resultant adjustments to this were described in Marketing Plans for Service Businesses , by Professor Malcolm McDonald

One-to-one communications and principles of relationship marketing,
then, demand a radically different sales process from that traditionally
practised in service organizations. This point is far from academic, as an
example will illustrate.

The company in question provides business-to-business financial services.
Its marketing managers relayed to us their early experience with a
website which was enabling them to reach new customers considerably
more cost-effectively than their traditional sales force. When the website
was first launched, potential customers were finding the company on the
Web, deciding the products were appropriate on the basis of the website,
and sending an email to ask to buy. So far, so good.

But stuck in the traditional model of the sales process, the company
would allocate the ‘lead’ to a salesperson, who would telephone and make
an appointment, perhaps three weeks hence. The customer would by now
probably have moved on to another online supplier who could sell the product
today, but those that remained were subjected to a sales pitch, complete
with glossy materials, which was totally unnecessary, the customer having
already decided to buy. Those that were not put off would proceed to be
registered as able to buy over the Web, but the company had lost the opportunity
to improve its margins by using the sales force more judiciously.

In time, the company realized its mistake, and changed its sales model
and reward systems to something close to our ‘interaction perspective’
model. Unlike those prospects which the company proactively identified
and contacted, which might indeed need ‘selling’ to, many new Web customers
were initiating the dialogue themselves, and simply required
the company to respond effectively and rapidly. The sales force were
increasingly freed up to concentrate on major clients and on relationship

The changing nature of the sales process clearly raises questions for the
design of marketing communication, such as: Who initiates the dialogue,
and how do we measure the effectiveness of our attempts to do so across
multiple channels? How do we monitor the effectiveness not just of what
we say to customers but what they say back? And how about the role of
marketing communications as part of the value that is being delivered and
paid for, not just as part of the sales cost?

Thanks to Simon Backer for telling me about Professor McDonald this AM.

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One Response to: “Validation that sales/marketing processes and models need to change- Does yours?”

  1. Reg,
    A pretty good discussion here and begs me to add that a financial services company that I worked for was forwarding all the web based leads onto the branch based inside sales people to handle, with no face-to-face intervention from the outbound sales team.
    In many cases the leads ended up as short term sales as the sale was based on price alone and none of the other key business differentiators. Key differentiators are the reasons that businesses change vendors to get some thing that they are not already getting for the incumbent relationship, not simply price. My point here is that in leveraging the strength of the web in marketing for increasing sales velocity is to add a proper feedback mechanism to validate the positive outcome and if the outcome is not positive then change can be implemented quickly.

    Chris Jordan said on 28 Apr 2008 at 12:53 pm #

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