How Your Sales Team Can Set You Apart in a Commoditised Market

In the past, business success was all about size – the large eating the small. Today business is all about speed – the fast eating the slow. However, most people and organisations react to a change in the market by protecting and defending. People prefer the status quo because change is hard, scary and unknown – it goes against human nature to embrace change.

We need to get over this fear. The speed of change in the current business environment is unprecedented, and one of the most rapid changes in recent years is the way in which people buy and the subsequent impact on the role of the salesperson. By 2017, according to Forrester Research, 56% of B2B buyers will do most of their purchasing research online without any interaction with a salesperson. By 2020 this will rise to 74%. Forrester predicts that, as a result, search engines will replace 22% of B2B sales jobs by 2020.

At the same time, we are witnessing the mass commoditisation of many markets. To most businesspeople, commoditisation means that competing products are indistinguishable in terms of tangible features and capabilities. However, according to research by Harvard Business Review, commoditisation is as much a psychological state as a physical one. A commoditised market is one in which buyers have a strong preference for swift and effortless transactions and are sceptical of any real product differentiation, and so just rely on price.

The key to escaping a commoditised market is not what you do to your product – it’s what you do to your customer and how your salespeople act as the catalyst to re-engage the customer. If you successfully give your salesforce the skills to behave like genuine business partners and create value for their clients, then your clients will re-engage. Companies that don’t make this change will remain commoditised and battle it out on price. The salesperson now becomes the differentiator.

This might sound like just a theoretical discussion, but it is actually one of the most common challenges presented to us by potential clients. Imparta recently supported a large technology firm that was losing market share to cheap alternatives coming into the market from Asia. Together, we entirely changed the conversation their salespeople were having with clients. As a result of our partnership, they increased their market share by 28% in two and a half years. The sales team had become the differentiator.

Differentiating your sales force in an increasingly competitive market is imperative, if you would like to know more about how this can be done, please contact us.

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