What's the Best Sales Model for Your Company?

By Rick Roman, Director of Association Management, Caliper Corp. Caliper consults with executives on hiring, employee development, team building, executive coaching succession planning and organizational performance. Roman facilitated an Interactive Roundtable Discussion Group at the recent TMSA Logistics Marketing & Sales Conference in early June. The topic? Effective Sales to Improve Your Performance. This is the first installment of a three-part series that outlines his primary observations from these discussion groups.

To say that the business environment is growing more complex for most companies is to understate a rather obvious truth, and the impact is perhaps most evident in the world of sales. Today’s customer expects unique value, meaningful business impact, and measurable ROI from partnering with vendors. Success often hinges on the sales professional’s ability to act as a trusted adviser by packaging solutions and conveying value in accordance with those expectations.

At the same time, certain traditional aspects of sales continue to bring value to the process, such as networking for connections, building rapport and developing relationships, establishing credibility and trust, asking questions, tailoring communication to the audience, and then using personal impact to promote solutions. 

What did we learn from our roundtable?  Each TMSA member company requires differing levels of sophistication from sales. However, it was clear that traditional “hunter” and “farmer” characteristics, while still important, are insufficient. Our group indicated that their sales roles fit into one of these three sales models. These models are:

  • New Business Development: This model is similar to the traditional “hunter” role, as this “type” is expected to bring in new accounts through some combination of professional networking, cold-calls, and following up on leads. Negotiating acumen is important, as is persisting to close business.
  • Consultative Sales: This model, developed in response to the information-age sales environment, requires someone who can frame the sales role to customers as a business partnership and work collaboratively on solutions. Top performers leverage the relationship to ask probing questions and systematically uncover root causes of business issues, and then take ownership of whatever solution is applied.
  • Strategic Sales: Successful salespeople in this role not only display a deep understanding of products, industries, markets, and clients’ business practices, they also bring new insights as well as challenge assumptions and conventional approaches.

As the marketplace evolves, it is a major competitive advantage for hiring managers to be looking for trusted advisors who bring insight and wisdom to the customer as well as differentiate themselves by becoming true strategic partners for their clients.

As the first in the series, this article has laid the groundwork for upcoming pieces that will dive more deeply into each sales job model to give a more detailed outline of the behaviors and competencies that go into each model. 

Review the other two parts of this series:
Part 2: What Do You Actually Need from Your Sales Force?
Part 3: Consultative + Strategic Selling

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